I was told by a detective that if I had a name, they’d listen.
I had a name, and I gave them every bit of information I had while detailing why I felt the person might be someone they should look at. That’s the last I heard, and I understand why. Even after sixty years, the murder of Frances Lacey remains unsolved. It’s a cold case, and while it’s inactive, it’s still considered an open case.
After thirty years in law enforcement, I never had the opportunity to work a cold case. After I received the police reports from the Frances Lacey homicide on Mackinac Island in 1960, I started reading. The report was over two-thousand pages. It was a difficult read but not in the sense of understanding each phase of the investigation. The photo copies that were scanned and put on a thumb drive were less than perfect. In some instances, I had to enlarge the image just to make out a certain word. Every name, address, phone number, and other identifying information had been redacted. I chuckled when I realized the redactions even included the name of a horse. The realization of piecing together a decades-old unsolved murder finally set in. I was working a cold case.
I was lucky enough to have a few sources of other information other than the police investigative reports. There were the news articles. In some instances, they identified certain individuals involved with the investigation. Beyond that, there were a couple books that mentioned the murder and suspects the police had interviewed. With a little skill, I was able to match the names with some of the redacted files. Much like the murder investigation, deciphering the police report was a puzzle in and of itself.
I took the time to create a spread sheet to identify specific information in various parts of the report, and that became a very valuable tool as I began piecing together a sixty-year-old homicide.
From the beginning, my intention was simply to write the story of Frances Lacey and her unsolved murder. It never crossed my mind that I might identify someone that I think should be considered a person-of-interest, and that the person was still alive.
There are very specific reasons for my conclusions, and they are a result of closely reviewing the crime scene report, the photographs, the autopsy results, and statements made by people who were in the area at the time of the murder.
Some feel that Frances Lacey was murdered by a local Island resident. I don’t. Others feel that she was murdered for insurance money and inheritance. I don’t. I believe the murder of Frances Lacey involves a killer who, for forty years after her death, sharpened his skill and that, perhaps, France Lacey’s murder was the genesis of his murderous career.
GRIM PARADISE: The Cold Case Search for the Mackinac Island Killer is available now in paperback, hardcover, and ebook and the audiobook is coming soon!
FROM THE BOOK
Frances Lacey’s body was lying on a slope with her head pointed downward to the west. She was on her stomach with her head turned to the right, and her right arm was pulled up behind her back with the palm of her hand open while her left arm laid alongside her body.”