Charge dropped against man arrested in 1986 murder

Southwest Michigan

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — A murder charge against a man recently arrested for the 1986 killing of a Van Buren County woman has been dismissed, records show.

Michigan court records indicate the decision to drop the charge against Michael Leon Curry came on April 26. 

Curry had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his former neighbor, 59-year-old Wilda Wilkinson. Wilkinson’s daughter discovered her body in her Bangor home in July 1986. Wilkinson had been strangled.

Curry confessed shortly after the killing to a man in jail and in writing. He also confessed to police, saying he strangled her during a burglary.

However, investigators say he reneged everything when they gave him a polygraph test, and Curry knew few facts of the case.

Retired Detective Sgt. Dana Averill told 24 Hour News 8 they thought Curry was “just screwing with us basically.” Averill also said they thought they had better suspects in the case.

Curry was released from prison in 2017 after nearly beating his roommate to death in 1989. He was arrested for Wilkinson’s murder in March.

Jail records show Curry has since been released from the Van Buren County Jail, but did not list a reason why the murder charge was dropped.

When asked if Curry was still a suspect in the murder, Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Shane Criger wouldn’t comment and deferred to the Van Buren County prosecutor. Authorities expect to release more details Monday.

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