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December 30, 2002

Police investigate link between armed robbery and drowning

From: WOOD-TV, MI - 30 Dec 2002

By Joe LaFurgey

(Grand Rapids. December 30, 2002,6:59 p.m.) Grand Rapids police say the robbery of a Fulton Street gas station may be linked to the discovery of a body discovered floating in the Grand River Monday Morning.

Two people on a train trestle that crosses the Grand River south of Wealthy Street spotted the victim's body near one of the trestles support column. Preliminary autopsy results indicate the victim died from drowning.

But Grand Rapids Police reveal the victim and a robbery suspect from Friday night were both deaf. That's just one factor that's linked the two cases together. Investigators believe they've traced the victim's whereabouts to Friday night in the Fulton Street gas station.

"An individual went in there, struggled with the clerk and took the cash drawer. A citizen who was nearby actually observed him, following him on foot" says Grand Rapids Police Captain Kevin Belk.

The witnesses saw the suspect duck behind a warehouse, walking along a retaining wall. Police think the man went over the side and down a ladder. Footprints below tracked for about one hundred yards then disappeared into the river. Investigators believe the body found less than a mile downstream is that of the suspect.

"Whether he was naive as to the dangers of the river or why he went into the river, I don't know" says Belk. The drowning victims name is being withheld until his family is notified.

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