Keith James Lintz was formally charged Thursday on two counts of first-degree felony murder in the killing of John and Carolyn Tarwacki. Submitted photo

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Suspect charged in Tarwacki murders

Published 1:30pm Thursday, October 18, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — Keith James Lintz, 28, of Niles, was arraigned Thursday morning on two counts of first-degree felony murder and one count of felony firearms in the killing of Niles couple John and Carolyn Tarwacki in February 2010.

Lintz, who has been living on N. 16th St. with his grandmother, is facing mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for each count of premeditated murder.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz provided to the court some details of the murder, which occurred in the Tarwacki’s home on 979 Carberry St. in Niles on the morning of Feb. 5, 2010.

Fitz said John was stabbed 10 times and shot twice, while his wife, Carolyn, was severely beaten, stabbed four times and shot twice. Both died at the scene.

“He brutally killed both of these individuals,” Fitz said.

Judge Stacey Rentfrow denied bond for Lintz, as requested by the prosecutor.

Fitz told the court Lintz has a history of violent behavior, including beating two other persons, including an “out-of-state person” and a South Bend, Ind., woman. That woman, Fitz said, received injuries similar to the ones sustained by Carolyn, although not fatal.

Lintz also was convicted twice of assaulting a police officer, once in 2004 and once in 2006.

Lintz is scheduled to appear in Cass County Court for a pre-exam conference on Oct. 31, and a preliminary examination on Nov. 1.

The case will be prosecuted jointly by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office. Doug Baker, special assistant prosecutor with the state attorney general’s office, will act as lead prosecutor.

Michigan State Police arrested Lintz without incidence at 2 p.m. Wednesday near his grandmother’s home on North 16th St. in Niles.

“He had just left in a motor vehicle at which point he was pulled over and arrested,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Chuck Christiensen in a press conference at the Cass County Courthouse following arraignment.

Lintz’s name was unearthed early in the investigation. Christiensen said police made first contact with Lintz a week after the murders and interviewed him on at least two other occasions.

For the past 2 1/2 years, Christiensen said, police received 725 tips and interviewed 381 people in the states of Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Fitz said he couldn’t discuss Lintz’s motive or relationship to the victims, although “some of these things will come out in court during proceedings, including potentially preliminary examination.”

Fitz said investigators have uncovered a number of persons who said Lintz admitted to them his role in the crime.

Fitz would not say if the murders were the result of a burglary gone wrong or if investigators had secured the murder weapons.

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