NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) - When Cecil Wallis Sr. committed suicide in November, he was still seen as a key figure in the Amanda Lankey murder - but the Newaygo County prosecutor told 24 Hour News 8 the investigation is still active.
Wallis, 43, was considered a person of interest in the disappearance and death of Lankey, who was 13 when her body was found in the Manistee National Forest in 2004. The last place she was seen alive was at Wallis' home.
At the time of his "self-inflicted" death , he was facing charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with teenagers during 1998-2002. His body was discovered in a remote area in Newaygo County's Goodwell Township the very day he was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in the CSC case, police said.
24 Hour News 8 obtained police reports through the Freedom of Information Act about the investigation. Though much of the information was redacted, the victims said the assaults happened at a White Cloud house where Wallis lived.
They said Wallis would often order them up to his bedroom and engage them in sex acts, and on at least one occasion crept up to an alleged victim while she was sleeping. And while they often expressed hesitation, the victims claim they didn't argue with Wallis because they were intimidated and he was known to be a violent person.
Wallis, they said, would often give them large sums of money they believed were bribes to keep quiet.
Despite his death, Newaygo County prosecutor Robert Springstead said the investigation into the Lankey death continues, and will remain ongoing.
"The interesting part of the CSC investigation simply is that the victims of the case were of a similar age to Amanda when she was killed," Springstead said. "The girls had frequented his house, as did Amanda."
He added, "If (Wallis) wasn't the killer, we're still coming after (whoever killed her.)"
Tom Verhoy, Lankey's grandfather, told 24 Hour News 8 he's glad the prosecutor is keeping the cse open and active since he believes other people besides Wallis Sr. may be involved.
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