Michigan Archives:

DETROIT, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — A federal report released on Thursday has harshly criticized the handling of an improvised explosive device (IED) that was discovered at a federal building in Detroit in March 2011 but had already gone unnoticed for almost three weeks.

The incident began on February 26, 2011, when an employee with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found a black Husky tool bag at the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit. He reported the abandoned bag to Federal Protective Service (FPS) officer Ralph Smith, who seized it and stowed it under a desk.

The bag, which contained a metal rectangular cash box, went unnoticed for three weeks until FPS officer McManus ran the bag through an x-ray machine on March 18 and discovered the cash box appeared to contain wires and other suspicious material. He then called the Detroit Police Department Bomb Squad, which took the bag to Detroit’s Belle Isle Park where the bomb went off as experts were attempting to render it safe.

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general reviewed the incident and harshly criticized the handling of the suspicious bag at the McNamara building, which is home to many federal agencies, including the United States Secret Service (USSS), the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations Bureau.

“Although the IED did not explode, it represented a serious risk to the safety and security of the building and its occupants,” the 37-page report said. It also criticized the training, hiring practices and oversight of security guards at the building, where an FPS inspector failed to identify the suspicious bag during four inspections.

As a result of the mishandling of the suspicious bag, three guards were fired, including the one who brought the bag inside, and a fourth guard resigned before being fired. Five other guards at the building were given suspensions ranging from one to five days, according to the report.

Days after the incident, 42-year-old Gary John Mikulich of Kingsford, Michigan, was arrested on one count of maliciously attempting to damage or destroy, by means of an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or property in whole or in part owned or possessed by the United States government.

Mikulich had a long history of threatening and complaining about the FBI, including an October 1996 incident during which he told Secret Service agents he “felt like” shooting a couple of FBI agents. And in a number of fax messages sent to the Iron Mountain Police Department in early 2011, Mikulich accused the FBI of murdering his father, three specifically named individuals, and “about a thousand people in town here.” He also believed the FBI wanted to kill him.

Mikulich, who repeatedly called himself “President Mikulich” and claimed to be a “nominated president of the United States of America,” remains in custody but has been deemed incompetent to face trial. If he will ever face trial, Mikulich faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — Cereal product giant Kellogg on Wednesday announced that it has reached an agreement to buy potato chips brand Pringles for $2.7 billion.

Originally developed in the United States by Procter & Gamble in 1968, Pringles has spread around the globe as it is currently sold in 140 countries with annual sales of $1.5 billion and manufacturing operations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The agreement is expected to significantly advance the Kellogg Company’s goal of building a global snacks business on par with its global cereal business. With sales of more than $13 billion in 2011, Kellogg Company produces its brands in 18 countries and markets them in more than 180 countries.

“We are excited to announce this strategic acquisition,” said John Bryant, president and chief executive officer of Kellogg Company, who also welcomed Pringles’ 1,700 employees. “Pringles has an extensive global footprint that catapults Kellogg to the number two position in the worldwide savory snacks category, helping us achieve our objective of becoming a truly global cereal and snacks company.”

Kellogg Company’s other snack products include Keebler, which was acquired nearly 10 years ago, Cheez-It, and Special K Cracker Chips. Other products include Coco Pops, Corn Flakes, Eggo, Frosted Flakes, Mini-Wheats, Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies, Special K, and others.

The companies are expected to complete the transaction by the end of the summer, pending necessary regulatory approvals.

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DETROIT (BNO NEWS) — Three of the four women who were found dead in Detroit last week were all working as escorts who advertised their services on BackPage.com, police said on Monday, raising fears of a possible serial killer.

The first victims were found at around 3 p.m. local time on December 19 in the trunk of a 2009 Chrysler 300C which had been parked in the driveway of a vacant dwelling on Detroit’s east side. The victims were identified as black females, 23-year-old Renisha Landers and 24-year-old Demesha Hunt.

Two more bodies were found on Christmas Day, at around 1 a.m. local time, after the Detroit Fire Department responded to a vehicle fire on Lanette, also on the city’s east side. After extinguishing the fire, the bodies of two black females, aged 28 and 29, were found in the trunk of the 1997 Buick LaSabre.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said the first two victims had no outer signs of trauma to the bodies, and their causes of death are still being investigated. The other two victims were burnt beyond recognition due to the car fire, and their causes of death were also not immediately known.

“At this time, we are awaiting the Medical Examiner’s final report for the determination of the cause of death for each of the females,” Godbee said, adding that detectives are investigating all four deaths as homicides.

The chief said at least three of the victims were working as escorts and had posted ads on BlackPage.com, a website which is similar to Craigslist but allows postings for adult services such as escorts, massages, strippers and fetishes. “The link between the three females and this website specifically dealt with prearranged adult dating services,” he explained.

Police stopped short of calling it the work of a possible serial killer, but Godbee warned people using the site to be careful. “We are not passing judgment on any individual who is utilizing this website, yet we felt it was imperative to alert the public that deciding to meet unknown persons via the internet, can be extremely dangerous,” he said.

“We implore people to be careful and always let someone know exactly when and where that intend on meeting this person or persons, which should be in a public place. Our sole purpose is for the public to be cognizance of this website when engaged in adult activities,” the chief added.

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GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — Two bank robbery suspects and a police officer were killed on late Thursday morning during a car chase in Michigan, local media reported on Friday.

The Choice One Bank in Ravenna, a village in eastern Muskegon County, was robbed at around 10:45 a.m. local time on Thursday. It evolved into a car chase shortly after as police tried to apprehend the suspects, WZZM 13 reported.

Police began chasing the bank robbery suspects on eastbound I-96 before turning westbound near Alpine. During the car chase, Walker Police Officer Trevor Slot, 41, was placing stop sticks on the road when he was hit by the speeding vehicle driven by the bank robbers. He died due to the impact from the car.

The suspects were later stopped at approximately 11:20 a.m. local time after fleeing for around 35 minutes following the bank robbery. Near 8th avenue and I-96 in Marne, police officers shot and killed both suspects.

Muskegon Prosecutor Tony Tague said the bank robbers were armed with at least one long rifle, adding that they might be suspects in other robberies in the area.

The Northview Public Schools expressed deep sadness over the death of Officer Slot, a father of two. His wife Kim teaches at the Crossroads Middle Schools. “We have activated our district crisis team which will be available for students and staff,” the schools said.

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — Two people were killed during the weekend when their helicopter crashed in the U.S. state of Michigan, officials said on early Tuesday. The wreckage was found on Monday.

The accident happened in a remote area of Alcona County near Hubbard Lake in the northern portion of the state’s Lower Peninsula, local authorities told the Macomb Daily. Two people were on board the aircraft and were both found deceased.

One of the victims was identified as 46-year-old Dan Logghe of Richmond Township in northern Macomb County. He was also the co-owner of Loggh Stamping Company in Fraser. The other victim was believed to be an employee of the company.

The individuals had taken off in the helicopter, which belongs to the Logghe Stamping Company, on Friday afternoon for a regular hunting trip, but their family members became concerned when they failed to return on Sunday, Michigan State Police Sergeant Gary Nesbit said.

While family members filed a report in Richmond, state police officers located in Alpena informed that helicopter wreckage was found in the area. The wreckage was discovered on Monday morning by a hunter, but it was not immediately known when exactly the aircraft had crashed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.

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GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — At least seven people were killed during a series of shootings in the state of Michigan on Thursday, before the killer committed suicide, officials said Friday.

Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, 34, shot and killed seven people – including five women, one man, and a 10-year-old girl – in two different homes in the northeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Police Chief Kevin Belk told WZZM.

Local authorities began searching for Dantzler throughout the city with the help of a Michigan State Police helicopter, and after being located, a dangerous high-speed car chase began on I-96 in downtown Grand Rapids. The chase caused two other vehicles to crash, as Dantzler repeatedly shot at police. At least two people were shot at, although their wounds were not fatal.

The violent car chase ended when Dantzler exited the vehicle, ran off while police continued the pursuit on foot, and entered a residential home near the scene of one of the previous shootings. Three people were held hostage, including a 53-year-old woman, who was later let free.

According to Belk, police officers were able to enter the house where Dantzler continued to hold two hostages, threatening to shoot them, and asking officers to open fire. Suddenly, Dantzler fatally shot himself in the head, ending the hostage scene at around 11 p.m. local time.

The shootings are said to be related, as police said Dantzler had a previous relationship with at least one of the fatal victims in each of the homes. However, the reason behind the shooting remains uncertain.

Dantzler had a previous criminal record that included felony assault less than murder, misdemeanor assault and battery, domestic violence and breaking and entering. 

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GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — At least seven people were killed during a series of shootings in the state of Michigan, officials said Thursday.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk told WZZM that seven people – including five women, one man, and a 10-year-old girl – were shot dead in two different homes in the northeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The shootings are said to be related, although the reason remains uncertain.

Local authorities have named Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, 34, as the main suspect, who remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous. A Michigan State Police helicopter was deployed to join the search efforts.

Dantzler was described as a 6 foot 2 inch black male, weighing 260 pounds and was reportedly seen at the York Creek Apartments near Alpine Avenue and Four Mile Road. Police are also looking for a tan-colored 2003 Lincoln Town car with license plate BWK 2308.

The suspect has a previous criminal record that includes felony assault less than murder, misdemeanor assault and battery, domestic violence and breaking and entering. 

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MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — A Michigan man who operated a residential youth facility in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince for more than a decade has been arrested and charged with the sexual abuse of at least eight children at the facility, U.S. prosecutors announced on Friday.

66-year-old Matthew Andrew Carter, who is also known as William Charles Harcourt and Bill Carter, was charged on Thursday with four counts of traveling in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors. He was arrested in Miami on May 8 and remains in custody.

Since the mid-1990s, Carter operated and lived at the Morning Star Center which provides shelter, food, toys, money, and schooling to Haitian children who are orphans or from impoverished families who cannot not support them.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection travel records, between December 1994 and April 2011, Carter traveled between Haiti and the United States at least 36 times. During these trips to the United States, Carter raised funds for the continued operation of the center.

But as alleged in court documents released on Friday, Carter required at least eight children to engage in illicit sexual conduct in exchange for gifts or money or in order to remain at the center and continue receiving food, shelter and schooling. “Few crimes are as despicable as the ones committed against these children in Haiti. For years, he sexually abused poor and orphaned children who depended upon him for food and shelter – all under the guise of doing noble work,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.

One victim who was identified in court documents as ‘John Doe #1′ told investigators that he moved into the center after Carter had asked his mother if John Doe #1 could stay at the Morning Star Center. The victim explained to investigators that his mother was very poor and could not take care of him, so she agreed to let her son live with Carter at the center.

John Doe #1, who was approximately 10 years of age at the time, told investigators that, after about a month, Carter called him to Carter’s room and instructed him to lie down on Carter’s bed. Carter then took off John Doe #1′s pants and performed oral sex on him, after which John Doe #1 was forced to masturbate Carter.

After the first instance of alleged sexual abuse on John Doe #1, Carter bought pizza and ice cream for the boy. The sexual abuse would then continue for approximately six years and take place about three to four times a week.

“According to John Doe #1, the only way for him to continue living at the Center was to do what Carter wanted,” the criminal complaint details. “John Doe #1 endured these sexual encounters with Carter because Carter provided toys, food, shelter, and schooling, and the alternative was to live in severe poverty.”

But in 2000, when John Doe #1 was approximately 16 years old, the victim told Carter that he did not want to do sexual acts anymore. In response, Carter stopped buying clothing, shoes, and books for John Doe #1.

The accounts of seven other victims are also detailed in the court records. And a ninth boy explained that Carter had on several occasions attempted to force him to do sexual acts, but that he continued to refuse. In response, Carter allegedly struck him with a black stick.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said the shocking child abuse case shows that U.S. prosecutors will not allow sexual predators to commit their crimes in foreign countries. “The acts that the defendant is charged with committing, quite simply, defy belief. As charged in the indictment, he preyed upon and terrorized impoverished Haitian children who were in dire need of the services offered by the Morning Star Center – the very children he was purporting to help,” Breuer said.

According to one of the victims, 14 children are currently living at the Center, and that an additional three boys live at the Center on the weekends. The victim told investigators that Carter has also engaged in sexual conduct with the minors who are currently living at the Center, and said that the conduct occurred as recently as a few days before Carter left Port-au-Prince on April 7.

In addition to the sexual abuse, Carter owns a .22 caliber gun and has allegedly on multiple occasions beat the boys with his hands or with a stick when he was in a ‘bad mood.’

If convicted on all four counts, Carter faces a total of 115 years in prison. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for one count of child sex tourism and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each of the other three child sex tourism counts.

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ROYAL OAK, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — Dr. Jack Kevorkian, also known as “Dr. Death,” on Friday died at age 83 due to pneumonia and kidney problems, CNN reported.

Kevorkian was hospitalized at the at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan on May and his health deteriorated quickly. His attorney Mayer Morganroth said he died peacefully and in no pain.

The 83-year-old physician was known for being an advocate of the assisted-suicide. An estimated 130 people were assisted by Kevorkian to end their lives. The first one occurred in June 1990 when a Jane Adkins, a 53-year-old Oregon woman, ended her life on the back of a van using Kevorkian’s death machine the “Thanatron.”

The suicide device released a lethal mix of drugs into the patient’s blood stream by just pushing one button. Kevorkian never regretted his actions as he claimed that it was his duty to help ending suffering of patients.

He was acquitted in several times during the 1990s and had his doctor’s license removed. Between 1990 and 1998, he assisted in the death of around 130 patients suffering terminal diseases. In 1998, he authorized the broadcast of a video recording showing him injecting lethal drugs on 52-year-old Thomas Youk.

He was convicted of Second Degree Murder after a long trial which included Kevorkian’s self-defense and was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. He only spent eight years and two months in jail and released on parole in 2007.

After his prison term, he was prohibited from engaged in assisted-suicides. In his last years, Kevorkian unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Michigan and focused on promoting a better understanding of the assisted suicide. He also criticized the states where assisted suicide was legalized, it is not being done right. Kevorkian said that the law allowed patients to take a pill to end their lives but he claimed that a doctor has to be present and do it.

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — Federal agents on Thursday arrested 12 people, including ten current or former Delta Airlines employees, for their alleged participation in international drug trafficking operations at airports in Detroit, Michigan and Houston, Texas.

In an investigation that began in January 2010 and dubbed “Operation Excess Baggage,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents from the ICE’s attaché office in Kingston, Jamaica, contacted Detroit-based HSI special agents to alert them of a seizure by Jamaican Customs of approximately 53 pounds of marijuana.

The seizure was discovered in a suitcase on Northwest Airlines (now Delta) flight number 2321, which was bound for Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The suitcase was tagged with a Northwest Airlines baggage tag, bearing the name of an uninvolved passenger, but agents suspected that additional baggage containing narcotics might still be on the aircraft destined for Detroit.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at DTW were notified, and HSI agents, along with CBP officers, seized an additional five suitcases containing nearly 16 kilograms of cocaine and close to 130 kilograms of marijuana.

Initial investigations suggested internal involvement of Delta/Northwest employees, and during a March 18, 2010 surveillance operation, agents seized an additional 45 pounds of marijuana from two Delta/Northwest employees at DTW.

The individuals were alleged participants in another smuggling operation between Houston and Detroit, and a separate Houston-based investigation was then launched.

Earlier in the month, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued 12 sealed complaints for these individuals known to have participated in these drug smuggling operations.

Ten were issued for current or former Delta/Northwest employees stationed at DTW or at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, and two additional warrants were issued for individuals involved in the scheme who were not airline employees.

“Today’s arrests and charges close a major vulnerability at the airport,” said ICE Director John Morton. “We can’t have people working in and around aircraft exploiting their positions for criminal ends.”

All 12 individuals were charged with drug trafficking and related charges, including conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute and illegal importation of narcotics.

Penalties involving the shipment of cocaine and marijuana range from 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000,000 for cocaine, along with five years to 40 years in prison for marijuana.

In the case of the marijuana shipment from Houston to Detroit, the penalty for less than 50 kilograms of marijuana is up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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