BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Police have released new information about a suspicious New Year’s death and arson in Battle Creek and say they have a suspect in custody.
“We’re very confident that we have the right individual,” Battle Creek Police Department Sgt. Jeff Case said.
The investigation began after emergency responders were called to a house fire just before 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day in the 200 block of Graves Street. After the fire was extinguished, the body of 58-year-old Howard Gillette was found. He had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
On Thursday morning, 24 Hour News 8 learned investigators worked backward to identify a suspect in Gillette’s death.
Initially, police thought Gillette was fatally shot Jan. 1. But a Michigan State Police trooper made a traffic stop on Dec. 31 and arrested the driver for operating while intoxicated and found a “large-caliber handgun” in the car, Case said. Police later executed a search warrant on the car and found evidence linking the driver to Gillette, though they did not release specific information on that evidence.
The suspect was taken into custody on an open murder charge and is currently lodged in the Calhoun County Jail. Police are still investigating the connection between Gillette and the suspect, whose name won’t be released until his arraignment on Friday.
“I think everything fell into place on this one, between tips and interviews and everything else,” Case said. “So, we did our due diligence. We put every resource possible towards the problem. We were able to accomplish that, meaning placed him in custody.”
Police are still not certain whether the suspect started the fire.
“We believe accelerants were used,” Case said.
Anyone with information in the case should call Calhoun County Consolidated Dispatch at 269.781.0911.