Archived Story

Tarwacki family speaks out on search for couple’s killer

Published 8:56am Tuesday, April 27, 2010

‘Our lives will never be the same’

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

It’s been almost three months since John and Carolyn Tarwacki were found dead in their home in the 900 block of Carberry Road in Niles Township.

Their deaths left an entire community stunned and devastated by all who knew the husband and wife, and it sparked a forceful reaction by local and state police who launched a massive investigation into the double homicide.

Now, almost three months later, there is still no answer as to who killed the Tarwackis, and John’s family is speaking out.

Kurt Tarwacki, John’s brother, said he is worried local media may write off his brother and sister-in-law’s murder as a case gone cold.

“There is a very bad person or persons still out there – possibly still in the Niles community – that must be stopped,” he said. “It’s not as if this was a kid shoplifting at Wal-Mart. This was a double homicide of two beautiful, incredible people. It seems that the local media has just written it off as another cold case.”

Since the Tarwackis were killed Feb. 5, local police have been very guarded of any information they’ve gathered through their ongoing investigation but continue to work leads and tips they receive on the case.

Since the investigation began, Michigan State Police investigators working the case have released a sketch of one person of interest and described a vehicle of interest that was also witnessed near Carberry on the morning of Feb. 5.

Lt. Michael Brown with the Michigan State Police told the Star in Feburary that police knew the suspect or suspects were “definitely walking on Yankee Street at least twice. Once while it was dark, between the hours of 6 and 6:45 a.m. and once later around, between 7:30 and 8:39 a.m.”
Concern over who killed the couple intensified when Det. John Slenk of the Michigan State Police post in Paw Paw said John and Carolyn were blatantly targeted.

“We don’t have any indication that this was a breaking and entering that went bad,” he said.
Asked at the time if the killer could still be in the community, Slenk answered, “I think they’re in the community, yes.”

The person responsible could very well flee, he continued, but being someone known by the couple, their absence would draw the attention of family, friends and police.

“I’m very confident that they knew their assailant,” Slenk said.

Three months later, Kurt Tarwacki said the family is in continued contact with police.

“The police are working hard to solve this case,” he said. “We try and contact them with any small detail we think of and encourage the public to do the same.”

Not forgotten
Following the Tarwackis’ sudden deaths, countless friends and family members turned out for a candlelight vigil and filled the sanctuary of Hope Community Church, spilling out into the lobby, during their funeral service.

The Tarwackis both worked for the music company Quinlan and Fabish. Carolyn was often busy in the band rooms of many area schools and the two were described as “soul mates,” two people no one could imagine to meet such a violent death.

Friends worked to establish the McKnight Tarwacki Music Scholarship at Southwestern Michigan College and a benefit concert will be held to benefit the fund.

The benefit concert will be held Saturday, May 8 at the Niles High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
The Southwestern Michigan College Brass Band will perform during the concert with special guest musicians Lance LaDuke and William Camp.

Still, friends and family wait for answers and hope for some sense of solace.

“Of course it’s frustrating that it’s been this long,” Kurt said. “But through our faith, and belief in the hard working detectives, we know they will find the person or persons responsible.”

Responsible for the loss of two lives so embraced by the people who knew them it’s hard to imagine what it must feel like months later to know their killer is still free.

“John and Carolyn were the kindest sweetest people you would ever meet,” Kurt said. “They would do anything for anyone without even thinking twice. Their passion for music and the Chicago Cubs brought fun-loving good times to our families.”

Memories, he said, “that we will always cherish.”

Statement by the Tarwacki family
“Our families are still going through a very difficult time. We are hopeful that the person who did this is either caught soon or comes forward on their own. We are thankful for all the tremendous support and prayers for our families. Our lives will never be the same because of this horrendous tragedy. We ask that anyone who has any information at all to please contact the authorities as soon as possible.”

  • acarrico

    My thoughts and prayers to the McKnight and Tarwacki families. Further details on the benefit concert “Brass at it’s Best”: tickets are available at the door with a suggested donation of $10.00 but all amounts will be accepted. 100% of the proceeds go to the scholarship fund and will be matched by the college. Special thanks to our musicians who have volunteered their time, talent and travel. Hope to see you there! Please pass the word to your friends and family…
    On facebook? Search for the McKnight Tarwacki Music Scholarship Benefit Concert page – pass it to your friends.

  • mam8

    I know that this case has been investigated, there was a man who died in Berrien County the same day this happened, and he was from Ludingtion, MI, his pic was in the obit and he looks alot like the composite sketch that they put out, This man died unexped. and he was in his 20′s.

Editor's Picks