Prosecutor: DNA led to release, dropped charge in 1986 murder

Southwest Michigan

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — New DNA analysis led to the release of a man charged with the 1986 murder of a Van Buren County woman, authorities say.

Michael Leon Curry was charged with first-degree murder in the strangling death of his former neighbor, Wilda Wilkinson. However, Van Buren County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Keith Robinson says court documents show the charge against Curry was dismissed “based on new information, to allow for further investigation.”

Robinson said that new information came from DNA test results, but refused to comment further.

Michigan State Police say the homicide investigation is open. The new DNA evidence requires further investigation and they are looking into new suspects in the murder case, MSP said. 

Michigan court records indicate the decision to drop the first-degree murder charge came on April 26. Jail records show Curry has since been released from the Van Buren County Jail.

Curry was arrested for Wilkinson’s murder in March.

He had 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 previously served time in prison for nearly beating his roommate to death in 1989.

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