Archived Story

6 months later, father still wants answers

Published 9:41pm Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Carolyn and John Tarwacki
Carolyn and John Tarwacki


Niles Daily Star

Six months ago, John Tarwacki Sr. lived out a parent’s worst nightmare.

On what could have otherwise been a normal winter’s day, his life — and that of his family — would be changed forever when his son, John Tarwacki Jr., and wife Carolyn were found dead in their Niles home on Carberry Road.

Beloved members of the community, John and Carolyn’s shocking and sudden death devastated all who knew them and has kept a community guessing as to who could be responsible for such a senseless and violent crime.

For friends and relatives of John and Carolyn, it cut a hole through the heart.

“We’re just kind of taking it one day at a time,” John Sr. said Tuesday. “It’s about all we can do. We still feel a horrible void in our lives.”

On Feb. 5, police reported to John and Carolyn’s home, the scene of the double-homicide that has yet to be solved.

A full force investigation ensued, with Michigan State Police detectives turning over every rock, responding to every phone call and conducting countless interviews in the hopes of finding John and Carolyn’s killer.

Their quest remains amidst a sea of unanswered questions.

“(It’s) the most difficult case I’ve ever had to deal with,” said Det. Fabian Suarez of the Michigan State Police Niles Post.

Suarez has been working the case from the very beginning.

Police have been tight-lipped about details surrounding what happened to John and Carolyn in the early morning hours of Feb. 5. And they’re not planning on divulging any details any time soon.

“Once you release important information, you can’t use it again,” Suarez said. “And this is a very difficult case.”

Immediately following the double-homicide, between five and 10 detectives were assigned to the investigation each day, coming from posts in Niles, Bridgman, South Haven, White Pigeon and even Paw Paw.

That number has since decreased, but Suarez said there are four detectives still working the case each day.

“We’re still getting tips in,” he said. “A lot of the tips may not be helpful, but we still have to run them all down.”

Since the murders took place, police have interviewed an estimated 286 people and have fielded “well over” 700 tips.

“We’re working this case every day,” Suarez said. “We’re not giving up by no means.”

Knowing John and Carolyn’s killer is still free, “I don’t sleep well,” Suarez said.

While each day is another in the investigation, for the family, each day is another day without the people they love.

“(John) wasn’t just my son, he was my best friend too,” John Sr. said. “We were together a lot … it’s been very, very hard for all of us. Life will never be the same.

“We’re hopeful somebody will say something or come forward,” he added.

There is an absence of answers.

“That’s the worst part of it,” John Sr. said.

Talking about a day so many are certain never to forget, he is soft-spoken and thoughtful.

In a wedding photo of John and Carolyn that was released at the time of their death, one might imagine the son to take after the father.

But in the smiling faces of two who have been described as “soul mates,” there is a sick feeling as their loss hangs over the community.

“John and Carolyn were just good people,” John Sr. said. He describes them as “generous to a fault,” hard workers who “never took a day off work” and gave back to their community.

“It’s hurt our family a lot,” he said. “(But) the support we’ve had from the community in general and our church group and the state police” has helped.

Still, six months later, emotions run close to the surface.

“You go from being horribly sad to being totally angry,” he said. “It’s still not real. You wake up and you think, ‘oh gosh, was I dreaming?’ (It) feels like it was yesterday.”

Suarez has no plans on letting the Tarwacki case go cold and perhaps one day, when John and Carolyn’s killer is in custody, he and the community will breathe a little easier.

But John Sr. said he tries not to think about whether or not the end of the story will bring him relief.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I find if I dwell on that part too much it might make me crazy more than I already am.

“It won’t bring them back,” he continued. “Would it provide some closure? Yes, I guess it would.”

John Sr. is asking the public again to come forth and call police if they have any information about who might have killed his son and daughter-in-law.

“If anyone out there knows anything about this we would really appreciate it if they just come forward and contact the Michigan State Police and just let them know,” he said.

To do so, call 683-4411.

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