SULLIVAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of a Muskegon County man murdered in 1990 learned of his killer’s impending release from the prisoner herself.

Amy Black, once a so-called juvenile lifer, announced she’d been granted parole during a restitution hearing in late July.

“I had no clue,” said Barb VanBogelen, whose husband, David VanBogelen, was robbed and killed just before Christmas in 1990.

A photo of David VanBogelen.

Barb VanBogelen, who participated in the July 29 Zoom hearing, said she was stunned when Black “blurted out” that she would be released from prison Sept. 7.

“It’s not right that Amy gets a ‘get out of prison free’ card,” she said. “Dave doesn’t get a ‘get out of the grave’ card for free. … A calculated murderer is what she was, and still is, and will always be.”

Black was 16 when she and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Jeff Abrahamson, lured David VanBogelen to the couple’s apartment before robbing, beating and stabbing him.

“(Dave) went out with the guys after work, and they went drinking,” explained Barb. “He left the bar, and he went to a restaurant to get something to eat. That’s when he met up with Jeff and Amy.”

Black and Abrahamson dumped the 34-year-old husband and father’s body on a Muskegon County two-track.

Both teens were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Left: A Jan. 23, 2020, photo of Amy Black. Right: A Nov. 2, 2017, photo of Jeff Abrahamson. (Courtesy Michigan Department of Corrections)

But in 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional because they fail to take into account adolescents’ immaturity and still-developing brains.

Black, now 48, was re-sentenced to 35 to 60 years in August 2021.

She was recently granted parole and is set to be released from the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility the week of Sept. 4 to Sept. 10, according to Chris Gautz of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“Whoever lives next door to her better have their eyes open at all times,” said Barb Vanbogelen during an interview at the Muskegon County home she and her husband bought two years before his murder.

“She’s manipulative, (and) she’s a liar,” she said.

At the re-sentencing hearing in August 2021, Black’s attorney, Kimberly Stout, told News 8 her client has changed.

“She’s incredibly remorseful,” Stout said. “I think she’s ready to go back in society.”

Matt Tjapkes of Humanity for Prisoners told News 8 Michigan’s legal system does not put minors away for the rest of their lives.

“These types of cases always spur strong emotions. There’s no denying the horrific crimes that happened, but there’s also no way to change it. … Miss Black has spent more of her life in prison than she has as a free citizen, and she’s taken numerous programs through the MDOC to prepare her for a return to society. Amy is more than the crime she committed, and the state has declared that she’s earned a second chance,” wrote Tjapkes in an email to News 8.

Amanda VanBogelen, who was 7 when her father was murdered, said it was traumatic to learn about Black’s parole from the convicted killer herself.

“To find out from her, it was very hard. … Scariest moment of my life,” said Amanda. “It’s not fair that we have to find this stuff out on our own.”

Gautz, MDOC spokesperson, told News 8 it’s possible the victim notification system was not set up in 1990.

“Sadly, this does come up from time to time with older crimes and victims or their remaining living relatives unaware,” wrote Gautz in an email to News 8.  “We regularly encourage the public to sign up if they were the victim of a crime in the past.”

“Victims may request notifications by completing an MDOC Crime Victim Notification Request Form available from the Prosecuting Attorney, contacting Crime Victims Services or the MDOC victim services website,” Gautz wrote.

The VanBogelens told News 8 they are signed up for notifications through VINElink.

David VanBogelen, who was 12 years old when his dad was killed, called Black’s impending release and the way the family discovered it “infuriating.”

He said he remembers riding dirt bikes with his dad and going to wrestling events and rodeos.

“I can remember him showing up to my baseball game, where all the other parents were wearing sweaters and cardigans, and he’s on a Harley with just a vest on with tattoos. It was awesome. He was the greatest. He didn’t care. He was who he was, and he was the best because of it,” he recalled.

Barb VanBogelen described her husband as a “jack of all trades” who could fix anything, and a “fun guy” who was liked by everyone.

“He was not perfect, no one is, but he took care of his family and went to work every day,” she said. “The criminal justice system has failed us miserably, but you know what, I will not allow her — or them — to ruin who we are and how far we’ve come.”

Barb VanBogelen, who was working part-time at a convenient store when her husband was murdered, is proud she’s never received a shut-off notice from a utility company nor missed a house payment.  

“I hold my head high,” she said, noting that she will never forgive Black and believes she should remain in prison for life.

“(But) karma is a b—-, and Amy Black is going to have her day. It’ll come back and bite her,” she said.

Amanda VanBogelen said she wants people to focus on her dad, not Amy Black.

“People should remember his name and not hers, and that’s why I share his story,” she said.