***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Michael Curry as the victim’s roommate. We regret this error, which has since been corrected.***
PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) —A man arrested in connection to the 1986 cold case murder of his neighbor previously spent decades in prison for brutally beating his roommate, a source close to the investigation says.
Michael Leon Curry, 51, appeared in a Van Buren County District Court Monday afternoon where he was formally charged with felony murder in the death of 59-year-old Wilda Wilkinson. The judge denied Curry bond, sending him back to the Van Buren County jail.
Michigan State Police say Wilkinson’s daughter found her dead in her Alexander Street home. A copy of her death certificate states she died on July 29, 1986.
State police say Wilkinson was killed during a break-in. While investigators identified several persons of interest early on, the case eventually went cold.
Three years after Wilkinson’s murder, on Dec. 12, 1989, Curry was arrested for attempted murder, state records show.
Sources close to the investigation say after Curry badly beat a man, he called an operator and identified himself as the “Night Stalker” and said he had killed his roommate.
Police traced the call to a home on Walnut Street in Bangor, where they found Curry and the victim, sources say.
State records show Curry was sentenced to 10-30 years for assault with intent to commit murder. He was discharged from the Michigan Department of Corrections on July 14, 2017.
In 2010, MSP detectives began working Wilkinson’s murder case and narrowed down the list of suspects. A team took the case on full-time last year, MSP says.
Last week, the investigation took detectives to California, where they arrested Curry, who waived extradition to Michigan.
MSP says Curry lived near Wilkinson at the time of the crime. He was initially questioned by investigators and was never ruled out as a suspect, but police had to conduct numerous interviews and gather physical evidence before they could arrest him.
MSP says Wilkinson’s two daughters and two sons were in “continuous contact” with detectives during the decadeslong investigation.