BYRON CENTER, Mich. (WOOD) — The suspicious death of retired pastor Dale Cross Sr., whose body was found six weeks ago next his disabled truck, was at first considered a suicide until an autopsy confirmed the path of the fatal shot.
The autopsy found he was shot in the top-left side of his head and that the bullet exited below his right ear, according to a search warrant affidavit released Thursday.
“This wound path was found to be suspicious as the victim is known to be right handed and carried his pistol on his right waistband,” a detective wrote in the affidavit.
Passersby found Cross’s body just before 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 next to his disabled SUV along 68th Street SW between Burlingame and Clyde Park avenues in Byron Township.
They said it looked like Cross was changing a flat tire when the shooting happened.
Cross’s wife told deputies her husband had left their home not far away about an hour earlier to return something at Menard’s. He was planning to pick up ice at a gas station before returning home, she said.
Less than an hour later, the passersby found his body.
One witness told deputies he wanted to check for a pulse, so he pulled the victim’s left hand from under his head. A handgun, registered to Cross, came out with it. That’s when he noticed the gunshot wound.
Deputies said that Cross’s wife stumbled onto the scene while out looking for husband.
She told deputies she didn’t believe her husband, former pastor at Abundant Life Church in Byron Center, would commit suicide because of religious beliefs and because it would void his life insurance policy.
The search warrant was for Cross’s two cell phones. Investigators said they were trying to see if he’d researched suicide or had left a suicide note. It wasn’t clear what, if anything, they found.
Authorities are trying to track down possible witnesses, though they haven’t said anything about any suspects. The possible witnesses have been described as a white man in his late 20s or early 30s standing about 5-foot-5 with a thin build, and a white woman with longer dark hair. They were in a small pickup truck with a regular cab. It may be white or light gray with a red or maroon hood.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s department at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.