GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man has been accused of murder after a body was found in the car he was driving while he was being arrested for stalking, authorities say.
Devon Matthews, 26, is expected to be charged with open murder and felony firearm in the death of Richard Jekel the Grand Rapids Police Department said.
Jekel, 69, was a former University of Michigan football player who was friends with former Kansas football coach Les Miles. Family said he loved helping people and often gave them free rides around town.
Information about the killing came out in court Tuesday, when Matthews stood before a judge on a bond hearing in an aggravated stalking case. Prosecutors said Matthews was free on a $100,000 bond after being charged with aggravated stalking out of Wyoming and was on a GPS tether when a second aggravated stalking complaint was made out of Grand Rapids. Police went to arrest him, prosecutors say, and found him outside his stalking victim’s home armed with a gun. That was June 6 on Horton Avenue SE near the intersection of Alger Street SE and S. Division Avenue.
There, prosecutors said in court, officers found Jekel shot dead in the back seat of the car Matthews was driving. They added that a gun that Matthews “dumped” matched the bullet used to kill Jekel.
Jekel’s death certificate indicates he died around 10 a.m. June 6.
At the hearing, Matthews’ bond in the aggravated stalking case was raised from $10,000 to $50,000. He is expected back in court next week.
Prosecutors would not comment on a possible motive.
Authorities say Jekel was homeless, but family said he always had a place to stay with his children who live locally.
Family said the car where he was found dead belonged to Jekel and that he frequently gave free rides. They fear that may have led to his death if Matthews wanted a ride.
“There is no motive,” daughter Melissa Jekel told News 8 Wednesday. “They haven’t been able to make any connection between my dad and Devon at all. … It was just a random wrong place, wrong time. He was trying to get to his stalking victim.”
She said her father’s wallet was still on him.
“Sometimes people are just crazy,” she said.
“He killed my dad for no reason. He definitely would’ve killed (his stalking victim) because she was the focus, and then their poor child would grow up without either parent,” she added. “So I mean it sucks, but I just don’t want to be bitter and let it consume me.”
She said she last time she talked with her father was June 5.
“I was like, ‘OK, love you,'” Melissa Jekel recalled. “And he was like, ‘I love you, too.'”
When she tried him again on June 6, no one answered.
“His phone went right to voicemail. I thought that was odd,” she said.
His body was found later that day.
Melissa Jekel said her father played football at the University of Michigan in the 1970s.
“He had a Rose Bowl ring, and that was claim to fame, too,” she said of her father. “He played with Les Miles.”
Miles was the best man at Richard Jekel’s wedding.
Melissa Jekel said her father loved to create a number of Facebook pages with quirky personalities.
“That was one of his Facebook pages, the Traveling Taxi Man, and sometimes he would post, ‘Oh, I’m up over here now,’ that he’s older — it’s the Traveling Grandpa,” she said. “He had his own special way of doing things and that was my father.”
*Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the date Jekel’s body was found. It happened June 6. We regret the error, which has been fixed.