UPDATED: March 30, 2011
Press Releases from 1998
December 16, 1998:
Step-Daughter Charged in Murder-for-Hire
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that an additional person was charged in the murder-for-hire case charged on December 6, 1998. Felony charges of Conspiracy to Murder and Solicitation to Commit Murder were lodged against LOIS ANN PARKER (aged 21) of 509 E. Edgewood, Lansing, MI. Both charges carry maximum sentences of life or any term of years in prison. Ms. Parker was arraigned this morning on the charges before Judge Paul Berger and is being held on a $200,000 cash bond.
Parker's mother, JUANITA VanACKER (W/F, 10/10/1954), was previously arraigned in this matter on a charge of Conspiracy to Murder. The intended victim was her husband, Parker's stepfather. In related events, the charges were amended against Juanita VanAcker to add the charge of Solicitation to Commit Murder. Her preliminary examination was adjourned to December 30, 1998 at 9:00 a.m. The hearing will be conducted jointly for both VanAcker and Parker.
Co-defendants JUAN MARTIN HODGE and BARRY LEE JONES (B/M, 11/30/1964) waived their preliminary examinations pursuant to an agreement with authorities, which will require them to plead guilty to Regarding the agreement, Prosecutor Sauter said: "Additional investigation verified that Hodge and Jones acted under the pretense of the murder for hire scheme, but only intended to steal the money offered by Mrs. VanAcker."
Bonds for Jones and Hodge were reduced to $5,000.00 on motions made by their attorneys.
UPDATE: Juanita VanAcker pled guilty to Solicitation to Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder. She was sentenced on 04/01/1999 in Eaton County Circuit Court to 5-20 years in prison on each count.
Lois Ann Parker pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Murder. She was sentenced on 03/14/1999 to 1 year in jail.
Barry Jones pled guilty to Larceny Over $100. He was sentenced on 08/03/2000 in Eaton County Circuit Court to 2½-5 years in prison.
October 30, 1998:
Terrel Embry Convicted of Murder
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that a Circuit Court jury convicted TERREL LEE EMBRY (B/M, 02-27-1973), this afternoon, of First-Degree Murder (penalty: mandatory Life), Felony Firearm (penalty: two years consecutive to the murder conviction), Discharging a Firearm at a Building (penalty: 4 years and/or $2,000) and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm (penalty: 5 years and/or $5,000.00). Sentencing is scheduled for December 14, 1998 before Eaton County Circuit Judge Calvin E. Osterhaven.
The convictions stem from the April 5, 1998 shooting death of Michele Cox, who was shot while attending a crowded party at 3977 Burnaway, Lansing, Michigan. Multiple shots were fired into the residence, one of which killed Ms. Cox.
The trial began on October 27, 1998. Twenty-three witnesses testified.
A co-defendant, TERRENCE DUANCE HILL (B/M, 09-07-1968), was previously convicted of Accessory After the Fact to Murder and Obstruction of Justice.
[Click here for earlier press release.]
June 05, 1998:
Paul David Coats: More Charges Filed
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today the issuance of additional felony charges against PAUL DAVID COATS (W/M, 01-05-1967) in connection with the June 5, 1998 home invasion, sexual assault and kidnaping of 3 family members. Mr. Coats is charged with committing these new offenses while released into the public on bond for sexual assault charges stemming from a May 16, 1998 attack.
Mr. Coats has not been apprehended and was last seen fleeing the scene of today's assault with his youngest daughter, Cassidy Lynn Coats, age 3. Cassidy is approximately 3' tall, 40 lbs. with short blonde hair. She was wearing a University of Michigan shirt when she was taken by her father.
UPDATE: Paul Coats was located in the area of the Texas-Mexico border on June 7, 1998. Coats waived extradition, and Eaton County authorities brought Coats back to Eaton County on June 10, 1998, for arraignment on his pending charges.
UPDATE: Paul Coats pled guilty to 5 felonies: CSC 2nd Degree (2 counts), Home Invasion 2nd Degree (2 counts), & Kidnapping. He was sentenced on February 11, 1999 in Eaton County Circuit Court to 6-15 years in prison on each count.
May 19, 1998:
Two Charged with Murder
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today the issuance of charges against TERREL LEE EMBRY (b/m, 02-27-1973) and TERRENCE DUANE HILL (B/M, 09-07-1968) in connection with the April 5, 1998 shooting death of Michele Cox (B/F, 03-01-1965).
Ms. Cox, who lived at 4707 Richwood, Lansing, was shot while attending a party at 3977 Burnaway, Lansing, Michigan. Multiple shots were fired at the residence, one of which killed the victim.
Terrel Embry is charged with one count of Open Murder (penalty: life), one count of Felony Firearm (penalty: two years consecutive to the murder charge), one count of Discharging a Firearm at a Building (penalty: 4 years and/or $2,000) and one count of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm (penalty: 5 years and/or $5,000.00). Embry was arraigned in front of 56th District Court Judge Harvey Hoffman, who denied bail.
Terrence Hill is charged with one count of Open Murder (penalty: life), one count of Perjury under a Prosecutor's Investigative Subpoena (penalty: life), and one count of Discharging a Firearm at a Building (penalty: 4 years and/or $2,000). Hill was arraigned in front of 56th District Court Judge Paul Berger, who denied bail. The preliminary examination is scheduled in front of Judge Hoffman on May 29, 1998 at 9:30 am in conjunction with Mr. Embry's hearing.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Sauter stated, "The Lansing Police Department's investigation, headed by Det. Paul Weidner, was conducted in a diligent and professional manner that led to these arrests."
[Click here for update.]
April 03, 1998:
Two Charged with Malicious Torture, Killing of Dog
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that he has filed felony animal cruelty charges against two men for the intentional killing of a dog by dragging the dog behind their motor vehicle.
JAMES WALTER WHITTUM (W/M, 03-26-1947) and KENNETH JACK SEGER (W/M, 10-03-1957) both of Springport, Michigan, are charged with one count of Malicious Killing and Torturing of an Animal, a felony that carries a possible sentence of 4 years and/or $5,000.00 fine and/or 500 hours community service. The defendants can also be held responsible for veterinary care and be prohibited from owning an animal.
On January 19, 1998, the Eaton County 911 Center received a telephone call reporting that a dog was being dragged by a car. The dog was seen trying to run behind the car until it fell. The car reportedly reached a speed of 65 mph. Kenneth Seger was observed getting out of the passenger side of the car and walking back to where the dog laid. Mr. Seger was seen getting back into the car, driven by James Whittum, at which time the car was seen leaving the area, still dragging the dog.
Eaton County Animal Control and the Eaton County Sheriff Department have investigated the case with the cooperation of Michigan State University Veterinary Clinic.
Both men were arraigned in the Eaton County District Court on April 3, 1998. A pre-exam conference for both men is scheduled for April 13, 1998, at 1:30pm, and a preliminary examination set for April 17, 1998, at 10:00am. A $5,000 (10%) bond was set for both men.
UPDATE: In November 1998, a Circuit Court jury found Whittum and Segar not guilty. The defendants claimed at trial that the dog had been shot dead at the dog owner's request before they dragged it away for disposal.
April 01, 1998:
Perry Lee Brice: More CSC & Stalking Charges Filed
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that new charges have been filed against PERRY LEE BRICE (B/M, 5-31-1969). The charges are: Aggravated Stalking, Criminal Sexual Conduct Fourth Degree, and Stalking. The events leading to these charges came to light after the press released information on the current charges.
On March 26, 1998, Brice was arraigned on charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree involving a victim on Brice's Lansing State Journal paper route and with Assault and Battery and Stalking on a second victim who lived nearby. Brice posted the $5,000 bond on those charges the same day.
Brice's new charges involve sexual touching of a fellow employee at a Grand Ledge restaurant in December 1997, and stalking of another employee at that same restaurant from December 1997 through March 1998. With the new aggravated stalking charge, Brice is alleged to have violated the no-contact provision of his pretrial release on the original CSC Third Degree charge. Brice's bond on the new charges totals $21,000 cash or surety. The preliminary examination for all the felony charges is scheduled April 8, 1998 at 1:00 pm in front of Eaton County District Court Judge Harvey Hoffman.
UPDATE: Perry Brice was convicted in a non-jury trial of CSC 3rd Degree, and being a habitual felon. He was sentenced on February 11, 1999 in Eaton County Circuit Court to 25-50 years in prison.