Archived Story

Trooper honored for work on case

Published 6:06pm Friday, February 10, 2012

A missing mother “snowballed” into a murder case.

Thanks to Trooper Aaron Steensma’s sharp judgment and investigative techniques, Douglas Stewart was successfully prosecuted for the murder of his estranged wife, Venus Stewart, though her body has never been found.

Stewart is serving a mandatory life sentence at Carson Correctional Facility in Montcalm County.

At a Jan. 26 recognition ceremony in Lansing, Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue presented the Niles trooper and 1989 Cassopolis graduate with the MSP Meritorious Service Award for his professionalism and diligence and for going beyond what is typically expected of law enforcement officers.

The award is the top honor given by MSP for work on a criminal investigation.

“His initial crime scene response, briefing of responding officers and observations in this case proved to be critical in the successful prosecution” in 2011 for first-degree murder of Stewart, of Newport News, Va.

He was arrested by June.

Steensma, who still lives in Cassopolis, with his wife, Lesley, and two children, took several critical actions in a matter of minutes, guided by gut instinct that “something was wrong. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.”

“I hope she’s found for the family’s sake so we can give them some closure. Douglas Stewart is the only person who knows where she is,” Steensma said.

The case attracted national notoriety. It was shown on TruTV’s “In Session” and “Dateline NBC.”

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