Prosecutor tight-lipped about Niles woman’s death

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2003

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- No other information was available this morning from the Cass County Prosecutor's office on the death of Karen Elizabeth Reeves, 34.
Reeves, who lived at 1113 Carberry Road in Niles, was found dead, reportedly from a gunshot wound, at that home shortly after noon on Monday.
Authorities are treating the death as a possible homicide.
Reeves' death is the second at the residence, owned by Steven Phelps of Niles, who also lives there. Phelps is the owner of Beachcombers Resort, a tavern on Rose Drive in the Barron Lake area of Howard Township.
Patricia Jo Lutin, who lived with Phelps, was shot to death at the home on May 24, 1982. Phelps was charged with second degree murder in Lutin's killing. However, he was acquitted by a Cass County jury.
Phelps claimed he shot Lutin in self defense while the two struggled with a .38 caliber gun. The Cass County Prosecutor unsuccessfully argued at Phelps' trial in January 1983 that Phelps waited for Lutin inside his home with a gun and shot her when she kicked in the door.
On Tuesday morning, Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Victor Fitz released Reeves' name and age, but would provide no other information.
He said Michigan State Police officers and investigators, including those called to Niles on Monday from the State Police Crime Lab in Grand Rapids, worked throughout the night gathering evidence. He said investigators met back at the scene on Tuesday to review evidence.
Authorities also said an autopsy was conducted on Reeves' body on Tuesday at a Grand Rapids hospital, but no information was available.
On Tuesday, Fitz would not confirm that investigators had spoken to Phelps about Reeves' death or and it is unclear if Phelps is involved in any way.