GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man charged with murdering and dismembering a Kalamazoo-area woman bought ammonia and plastic bags at a store about a block away from his home, a detective testified Thursday.
In a Grand Rapids courtroom, investigators laid out evidence against Jared Chance during the preliminary hearing for his father James Chance, who is charged with perjury and being an accessory after the fact in the case.
Jared Chance is charged with open murder, mutilation of a dead body and concealing the death of 31-year-old Ashley Young of Oshtemo Township.
Young’s mother was in court, holding a box containing her daughter’s cremains. Young’s head, hands and feet have still not been found.
Young was last seen alive with Chance around 1:39 a.m. Nov. 29 at a liquor store about a block away from his apartment on Franklin Street SE in Grand Rapids, according to court documents.
Grand Rapids Police Detective Shawn Harmon testified that a receipt showed Chance purchased the ammonia and beer at the same store after Young went missing.
He said surveillance video showed Chance dumping something into a trash can during his visit. When detectives sifted through the trash, they recovered Young’s purse.
Some of Young’s remains were discovered wrapped in a tarp in the basement and in a box sitting on the stairwell of Chance’s apartment on Dec. 2, according to court documents. The documents also said blood was found on the stairway and in Chance’s bathtub, and human tissue was discovered in his kitchen sink.
Detectives testified Thursday that a mop and sponge found in his apartment also tested positive for human blood, as did plastic wrap found outside his home.
Pants with Chance’s name also had blood on them, a forensics expert said.
MISSING EVIDENCE, ANSWERS
A detective testified Thursday that two shell casings were recovered inside the furnace at Chance’s home. A sergeant said James Chance acknowledged his son had a .22 caliber revolver.
An autopsy previously concluded Young did not die of an overdose or “any natural causes,” but that without her head, the medical examiner can’t determine what exactly led to her death. For now, it has been labeled a “homicide by unspecified means.” Authorities said Young was dismembered after her death.
Detective Amy Lowrie testified Thursday that a trash can on the rear porch of Jared Chance’s apartment building contained two saw blades, numerous latex gloves, a black trash bag and an empty bottle of ammonia.
A Skil saw that tested positive for human blood was discovered under Jared Chance’s parents’ couch at their Holland home, a detective said.
Investigators said they also found an ammonia bottle from Miss Tracy’s store, an empty box for latex gloves and a bloodstained paper in the back of the parents’ silver SUV.
A detective testified a blood-stained washcloth was also recovered from the Holland home, and authorities found a pair of garden gloves, jeans, athletic pants, T-shirt, underwear, empty prescription bottles, and a spoon with residue and a needle in the ceiling framework of the basement.
BROTHER: SUSPECT ‘VERY DISTURBED’ AFTER DEATH
Jared Chance’s younger brother Konrad testified that his brother was “very disturbed” when he and his parents came to pick him up in Grand Rapids on the morning of Dec. 1.
He said a cardboard box containing a black bag with something in it was loaded into the back of their Honda CRV, along with a trash bin and mop. Konrad Chance said they never asked what was in the bag.
Konrad Chance also testified the family drove around because Jared Chance was looking for something. He said they stopped at Ashley Young’s car, where he remembered they picked up a pair of black boots.
James, Barbara, Jared and Konrad Chance were also seen on surveillance video at the Costco in Wyoming on Dec. 1.
Konrad Chance said when they dropped Jared Chance back off at his apartment, he helped carry the box with the plastic bag to the stairwell of his apartment. He said Jared Chance also carried back other items he previously loaded in the CRV.
Grand Rapids Police Department Sgt. John Purle also testified James Chance never admitted to moving any boxes or items from the family’s vehicle to his Holland home.
Police reports obtained by 24 Hour News 8 Thursday show a history of fights between Konrad and Jared Chance, often involving drugs or alcohol.
OFFFICER: MURDER SUSPECT’S DAD ‘FRIGHTFUL’ OF BOX
Purle said when investigators interviewed Jared Chance after his arrest Dec. 2, he told them Young was dead and she had been dismembered.
Purle said Chance’s father, who retired from an Illinois police department as a sergeant nearly 30 years ago, told police he was glad he wasn’t working the case because “it was a tough case.”
James Chance has repeatedly claimed innocence, even saying he went to police, but was turned away. However, a detective testified Thursday that James Chance knew Young was dead and dismembered when he went to police on Dec. 1 and only stayed at the station for two minutes.
Purle testified James Chance told officers he was “frightful of what was in the box they brought in the car to the police department,” but another detective previously testified James Chance never brought anything into the station.
JUDGE: DAD ‘MISREPRESENTED THE FACTS’
Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence Boivin said James Chance gave Jared Chance “the perfect opportunity” to continue dismembering Young’s body by not calling in a tip or telling police about his suspicions.
“‘You can go back to work. I’m not going to turn you in, even though I know she’s dead and I know she’s dismembered,'” Boivin said, describing what he thought James Chance was thinking when he dropped his son off at his apartment.
But the defense tried to argue that James Chance bringing his son to the police department voids any argument that he was trying to help his son get away with the crime.
“Doesn’t that negate any intent of avoidance of punishment?” the defense attorney Laura Joyce said. “‘I’m going walk my son who I believe has committed something, some crime, I’m going to walk him into the police department.'”
The prosecution argued that bringing Jared Chance to GRPD was all part of the cover-up.
“He wasn’t going to allow his son to talk without an attorney. Guess what? The cop of 25 years, that’s a calculated move by him,” Boivin said.
The prosecutor also pointed out that James Chance didn’t mention the visit to Costco when speaking with investigators.
However, James Chance’s defense lawyer said he misremembered events and shouldn’t face a charge punishable by up to life in prison for it.
In the end, the judge ruled James Chance “misrepresented the facts,” and said the felony charges of perjury and being an accessory after the fact were merited.
Barbara Chance waived her preliminary hearing, so the judge only heard evidence in the case against James Chance.