GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The disappearance of 14-year-old Deanie Peters from her brother’s wrestling practice more than 41 years ago remains one of West Michigan’s biggest unsolved mysteries, but recently unsealed court records obtained by Target 8 show Kent County cold case detectives are still chasing down leads.
Deanie disappeared on Feb. 5, 1981, from Forest Hills Central Middle School. Though presumed dead, the eighth grader’s body was never found.
In the search warrant, detectives were going after Deanie’s medical records from around the time she went missing in 1981.
A close family friend who has followed the case closely questions why they didn’t pursue that avenue four decades ago.
“I was kind of surprised when Deanie disappeared that nobody followed up on that,” Ariadyne Herbert said.
According to the search warrant, Deanie told a teacher she planned to miss school soon for a doctor’s appointment. The teacher passed that along to the original detectives, records show. But according to the new search warrant, detectives didn’t confirm it with Deanie’s parents.
Deanie’s mom, Mary Peters, told Target 8 Tuesday she recalls nothing about a doctor’s appointment. But Herbert, the close family friend, said she remembers it. She said she and Deanie’s mom planned to go to lunch the same day.
“It was because Deanie wasn’t feeling well,” Herbert said. “She was having stomach cramps really bad.
“I remember everything about that time frame. It’s burned into my brain,” Herbert added.
Just like she remembers being at the gym when Deanie disappeared,
“She was right at the doorway that went toward the cafeteria, waved at me and said, ‘I’ll be right back,’” Herbert recalled.
The Kent County cold case detective now working the case was recently going through documents when he came across a note about an office visit with Dr. Robert Bakeman around the time of the disappearance.
Bakeman, a family doctor, died earlier this year, but his records were stored at University of Michigan Health-West, according to the search warrant.
Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young told Target 8 that the warrant turned up nothing. Deanie’s records, she said, no longer exist. She called it another dead end. In a text message, the sheriff said detectives were “just looking in all directions.”
It’s not clear what, if any, connection the medical records would have had to the arrest of James Frisbie, a 62-year-old Caledonia man who is charged with perjury in the case. Frisbie was ordered to stand trial in Kent County Circuit Court but that case is pending after his attorney filed an appeal with the state Court of Appeals.
Among the lies Frisbie is accused of telling: In 2008, he came forward to tell detectives about a man he suspected could have killed Deanie. But last year under investigative subpoena, he denied that he ever suspected the man.
Deanie’s mom and the close family friend say they’re both grateful that detectives won’t give up on the case.
“There’s definitely something that we’ve all missed in this disappearance, so there’s something that hasn’t been investigated or looked at apparently or we’d have an answer to what happened to her,” Herbert said.