CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators say a Hope College documentary helped crack a 2002 cold case murder investigation that started in Ottawa County.
The unidentified body was discovered in a wooded area near a blueberry field in southeast Grand Haven Township on May 8, 2002. Investigators say they determined the homicide victim was beaten to death, but they couldn’t identify him.
Detectives say they exhausted all their investigative leads and the case went cold. Then in April 2015, they got a break in the case: Someone came across a Hope College documentary about the murder and contacted Detective Bob Donker with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.
“They found the information on the internet, reached out to our detectives and the case took off from there,” Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker said during a Thursday news conference.
The sheriff says those emails and phone calls eventually led detectives to the identity of the victim: 37-year-old Roberto Caraballo of Charlotte.
From there the mystery unraveled, leading to three arrests: Caraballo’s wife, 58-year-old Beverly McCallum; her daughter, 38-year-old Dineane DuCharme; and DuCharme’s friend, 40-year-old Christopher McMillan of Grand Rapids. All three face charges of homicide, conspiracy to commit homicide and disinterment and mutilation of a dead body.
Investigators Thursday wouldn’t elaborate on a motive for the murder, but said they determined Caraballo was killed in the basement of a home on Horacio Street in Charlotte before his body was dumped in rural Ottawa County.
“I don’t know if they knew the area or what. We don’t know at this time. But that’s where they placed the body,” said Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich.
They said McCallum and DuCharme lived in Charlotte at the time of the killing.
The investigation also led detectives to Florida and Texas, where the wife and daughter lived.
DuCharme was taken into custody in Texas. Investigators are still trying to track down McCallum. They believe she is living outside the U.S., possibly in Pakistan. They’re working with authorities there to try to find her and extradite her to the U.S. to face charges.
McMillan remains in the Eaton County Jail awaiting trial.
“It’s a big relief. Going many years with a body that you can’t identify or how it occurred, it’s a big relief. Now that we have three suspects face charges in this murder, I think it’s a big relief for Ottawa County as well as Eaton County Sheriff’s Office,” said Reich.
Investigators say Caraballo was never reported missing in Eaton County, further complicating the case.
Capt. Mark Bennett said investigators first named the murder victim “Jack” in hopes it would spur interest in the case, leading to a break. That name prompted the documentary’s title: “Jack in the Box.”
The documentary’s website says the film was created by the Hope College team at the request of then-Ottawa County Sheriff Gary Rosema, who hoped someone would see it and come forward with the victim’s name.