WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (WOOD) - Cecil Wallis Sr., connected to the unsolved 2004 murder of Amanda Lankey, died a "self-inflicted" death, the Newaygo County Sheriff's Department said.
Authorities confirmed that Wallis was found dead in a remote location in Goodwell Township in Newaygo County around 10 a.m. on Thursday.
They said that the death was "self-inflicted."
His family had reported 43-year-old missing prior to the discovery of his body.
It is not yet known when Wallis Sr. died or the exact cause of death, according to the Newaygo County District Court.
He was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Thursday afternoon regarding a separate case. He had been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with teenagers during 1998-2002. He was not in custody at the time of his death.
The judge dismissed the charge due to his death.
Wallis also was considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Lankey. It was his home where the 13-year-old was last seen alive in June 2004. Her body was later found in the Manistee National Forest, not far from her hometown of White Cloud.
Detectives have investigated several people in the Lankey case, including Wallis' son, Cecil Wallis Jr.
Victoria Foster, Amanda Lankey's mother, said that news of Wallis's suicide has left her conflicted.
"Right now, I'm still not sure how to feel. I'm mad. I feel that he knew something," she told 24 Hour News 8.
She said the police told her there was no suicide note. "Whatever he knew is gone with him," she said.
"I feel like... Pretty much like I've been slapped in the face," she said. "I was hoping today would -- I don't know -- I was hoping that it would all be over with."
But Fosters said that she's not done looking for answers.
"She wouldn't want us to stop because that person's out there and might do it to somebody else. This isn't the end. This isn't the end of Amanda's case."
Wallis Jr. has not been charged in the Lankey case either. Although, he was imprisioned after pleading no contest to a 2009 assault charge. He was released on parole in May, according to state records.
The investigation of Wallis Sr.'s death will continue pending the results of an autopsy.
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