Person of interest in custody in woman’s death

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Hours after a woman was found dead in a Kalamazoo home, a person of interest was taken into custody following a police chase and brief standoff.

Emergency responders were called to a home on Charles Avenue east of E. Main Street around 11:30 a.m. Friday.

“When they arrived, they found a female in her bedroom with a large amount of blood. It was pretty obvious that the female was decesased,” Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Capt. Brad Misner said.

Four children, ages 2 through 8, were in the house when authorities arrived. They apparently told neighbors something was wrong and the neighbors then called 911.

The 35-year-old woman’s name is not being released and authorities are not saying said how she died. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.

A group of friends and family gathered outside the home Friday afternoon, weeping as the medical examiner drove away. They said they were given few details about what happened.

“She was nice. Always there. Always there,” recalled Mara Woodruff, who identified herself as a longtime friend of the victim. “She didn’t deserve this. She was a good mom. She would stay home, work at home so she could take care of them.”

The children were uninjured and are with family members, Misner said. Children’s Protective Services has been called in, which is standard in situations like this.

MAN TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

On the other side of Kalamazoo Friday afternoon, there was a large police presence around an abandoned house on W. North Street at Staples Avenue. Police called in SWAT and ordered whoever was inside to come out.

“We are investigating a serious crime,” an officer at the scene announced over a loudspeaker. “If you hear me, give us a sign that you’re inside.”

After about an hour, a man came out with his hands up and was taken into custody without incident.

KDPS Director Karianne Thomas Thomas later confirmed the man was the person of interest in the homicide investigation. Police said there were no other persons of interest.

Capt. Misner said that when a KDPS sergeant spotted the person of interest’s car and tried to pull him over, the driver took off. He eventually crashed and then ran off on foot. A police dog tracked him to the abandoned house.

Police say the person of interest, a 32-year-old whose name hasn’t been released, is being held on charges of fleeing and eluding and a bond violation.

Misner would not confirm the relationship between the victim and the person of interest.

FRIEND: VICTIM WAS IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP

Woodruff, the friend, said the man is the victim’s ex-boyfriend. She said the pair had been together about five years and had two children together. The relationship was abusive, she said.

“She needed to leave and we all told her she needed to leave. He kept pulling out these guns and putting them to her head and stuff. We kept telling her, ‘You’ve got to go. You need to leave him alone,'” Woodruff said. “It’s just hard when you love somebody and you want them to get off drugs and just try to help. She couldn’t. She needed to leave.”

She said the victim had recently moved to the Charles home to try to get away from him, but “it didn’t take him long to find her.”

“They had been fighting for a while now, a couple of months, but it’s been bad the past couple weeks,” Woodruff said. “She tried to forgive him and take him back but they went through some stuff, personal stuff, that she just was trying to get away.”

THIRD SCENE

Misner said a third police scene on East Main near Fenimore Avenue in Kalamazoo Township was connected to the homicide investigation and that officers were working to execute a search warrant.

A business was blocked off by police tape and and SWAT was on scene. Misner said the tactical team was being utilized there because officers didn’t really know what to expect.

“We’re just trying to keep everybody safe at this time,” he said.

He would not specify how the scene was linked to the investigation.

INVESTIGATION PROMPTS WARNING, LOCKDOWNS

Kalamazoo Public Schools locked down Woodward School for Technology and Research and Hillside Middle School while police were at the North Street scene. The lockdowns were lifted and students released shortly after 3:30 p.m., after the man was taken into custody.

Western Michigan University’s public safety department advised students and staff to “exercise caution” amid the investigation. At 1:15 p.m., the department tweeted that KDPS was searching for the suspect north of campus in the area of W. Main Street. Campus police later tweeted the subject was in custody.

Kalamazoo College, which is located just northeast of WMU’s main campus, posted a lockdown alert on its website early Friday afternoon, urging everyone to shelter in place until further notice. A Kalamazoo College official confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 that no crime occurred on campus. That lockdown was lifted around 2:30 p.m.

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