GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the first and only person ever charged in connection to the 1981 disappearance of Deanie Peters was in court Thursday, the evidence laid out had more to do with a man who died more than a decade ago rather than with James Frisbie.
During Frisbie’s preliminary hearing in a Grand Rapids courtroom, the judge heard the recording of a rambling 40-minute police interview with Frisbie from 2008. In it, he gave two possible leads: One involving suspects from Lowell and the other involving men he knew, including one named Kyle Fate, who died that year.
But prosecutors say Frisbie recently lied under investigative subpoena when he testified he had never mentioned Fate or the other man he knew as possible suspects. Frisbie, 61, of Alto, is now charged with perjury.
Before the recording was played, much of the witness testimony focused on Fate, who worked at Frisbie’s sign shop and was his friend.
Testimony showed Fate was Deanie’s boyfriend. His ex-wife said that in the 1980s, before they got married, she found a 5-by-7 school photograph of Deanie among Fate’s belongings. On the back, she said, was a full-page, “very detailed” love letter to Fate signed by Deanie.
Another former girlfriend of Fate told the court that Frisbie called her the day Fate died.
“He (Frisbie) said, ‘Yeah, I think he lived his life with drugs and alcohol because he felt guilty about killing Deanie Peters,'” Susan Timmer testified.
Todd Parks, a friend of Fate and Frisbie, testified that Frisbie told him in 2009 about his “theory” that Fate killed Deanie. Frisbie, he said, also talked about a possible burial site in the area of 68th Street and McCords Avenue near Alto.
“Something was mentioned about the possibility of being buried in a swamp,” Parks said.
Deanie was 14 when she went missing from Forest Hills Central Middle School on Feb. 5, 1981. She stepped out of her brother’s wrestling practice, telling her mom she would be right back — but no one ever saw her again. Searches for her body have never yielded anything.
At a preliminary hearing, a judge hears at least some of the evidence against a suspect and decides if it is enough to send a case on to trial. The hearing didn’t wrap up Thursday; it’s expected to continue Sept. 20.
If convicted, Frisbie could face up to life in prison.