KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) - David and Vivian Bouwman had contact with a family member around 6:45 p.m. Friday. Early the next morning, the octogenarians were shot to death inside their Kentwood home by a perpetrator who remains at large.
Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen told 24 Hour News 8 the Bouwmans were last known to have spoken with a family member about eight hours before their neighbors heard dogs barking and other noises.
If that's when the break-in occurred through a back window of the home -- between 3-4 a.m. on January 5 -- it may be the same time someone drove off in the Bouwman's gold 2001 Cadillac from their home on Stowevalley Drive.
The car was driven to Wyoming and set on fire.
Investigators are doing all they can to solve this crime, including asking people to jog their memory.
"Anybody who maybe would have been out at that time of night, maybe even getting gas, may have seen a vehicle similar to (the Bouwman's gold Cadillac,)" Hillen said. "Any tip that you think may be insignificant may be useful to us."
Matching a detail like a car driving down the street at a particular time -- something a witness didn't think was significant -- could break a case wide open.
The car was found around 10 a.m. Saturday, on fire in a Wyoming apartment complex. Witnesses grabbed their cell phones and began taking pictures of the burning car.
"My guess is someone ran from the scene. And if it wasn't right at that location, it may have been down the street or a side street, something like that," Hillen said. "Somebody may have seen that."
The Wyoming police called the Kentwood PD about the burning car. Kentwood officers went to the Bouwman's house and knocked on the door. The officer "wasn't able to get anybody to come to the door," Hillen said.
Around 11 a.m., neighbors found suspicious footprints they believed are tied to the attempted break-ins in the area. Officers followed the footprints to the Bouwman's home and saw the broken window.
David Bouwman, 81, and Vivian Bouwman, 80, were found inside.
While the crime appears random, Chief Hillen said investigators are not ruling anything or anyone out.
Forensic evidence, fingerprints, gun residue and DNA could prove crucial to the case. Hillen said some of that has been processed by the technicians at the Kent County Sheriff's Department. Some of it has been sent to the Michigan State Police crime lab.
All of it was labeled a high priority.
Hillen added the killings have "affected the community. And not just Kentwood. It's affected my department."
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