Man charged in 38-year-old Cass County homicide once ruled suicide
CASS COUNTY —
There's been a big break in a 38-year-old death investigation in Cass County initially ruled a suicide.
Raymond Richmond, 56, is charged with open murder and felony possession of a weapon in the death of his cousin in 1977.
The investigation into Robert Stasiak's death was reopened about a year ago.
Stasiak's death was initially ruled a suicide, but the family never believed the 25-year-old married father of a 2-year-old killed himself.
Four decades ago, the Navy veteran was found dead in his parent's home on May Street in Edwardsburg.
"When I first started talking to the family, that's the one thing I said to the family. It's time to get some justice," said Edwardsburg Police Chief Timothy Kozal.
Police arrested Richmond on Thursday. He was just 18 when his cousin was found dead.
For the past 38 years, Stasiak has been buried at Adamsville Cemetery in Edwardsburg. His death was ruled a suicide, but in April of 2015, police reopened the investigation into his death.
Earlier this year, local college students joined police and prosecution in their efforts.
"We've indexed the case, we've made timelines and line maps to help the prosecutor. Along with school, it's taken a lot of time to work on it," said Shannon Gonzalez, a junior at Ferris State University.
Gonzalez is part of the 'Seeking Justice' program at Southwest Michigan College. They've been working alongside investigators to try and piece together all of the details in this case, not just to gain experience, but to help families of homicide victims. They'll continue to work on the case to the end.
"Knowing that they're going to have some type of closure hopefully that, I guess that's the motivator, what keeps you going and what keeps you pushing," said Julie Sisk, a junior at Ferris State University.
"The defendant in this case is obviously presumed innocent, but in this case I can assure you that the taking of a life as an extremely serious matter," said Victor Fitz, Cass County Prosecutor.
For police, the prosecutor, and the student, there's still a long road but the goal is clear.
"I want them to be at peace and that's really what I want. And they deserve that. They deserve that closure," said Stephanie Rich, a junior at Ferris State University.
Richmond is awaiting extradition back to Michigan.
He is currently being held at the St. Joseph County Jail and does not have the option to bond out.