Wife knew of murder

Published 11:53 pm Thursday, March 9, 2006

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - Hoping it would never surface again, the fiancee of Michael Dunnuck, 34, decided to marry the man she loved even though he told her he had shot and killed someone.
Michael Dunnuck, 34, of Byron, and formerly of the Niles area, is on trial this week in Cass County Circuit Court charged with open murder and felony firearm against William Whittaker, 42, of Niles.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Michigan State Police reopened the case upon hearing statements by Dunnuck that he allegedly killed Whittaker who was found dead at the kitchen table of his camper trailer on March 7, 1990, in Pokagon Township. He had been shot through the head with a .22 caliber bullet, Fitz said.
Fitz said the murder was about revenge and money.
On Wednesday, the second day of the trial, Francine Schrock, ex wife of Dunnuck who is remarried and lives in Massachusetts, testified she and Dunnuck met over the telephone when they talked about marketing and sales. She said they met and fell in love and agreed to get married in Las Vegas. Their family and the wedding party had plans to go to Las Vegas for the wedding.
Then one night before the wedding while they were dining in a fancy restaurant, Dunnuck said he had something “serious” to tell her. He told her he used to hang out with a guy. They smoked pot. Then the guy molested him in his trailer. He got mad about it and went back and shot him. She said she was upset, confused, shocked and felt sad for him. They decided to marry as they made their plans already.
The couple stayed married for three years and lived in Midland. After their divorce in 2000, Schrock went back to the east coast.
She said Dunnuck was never violent and didn't possess a gun. She said they traveled, visited with friends and had some homosexual friends.
Leonard Whittaker, 64, testified about the death of his younger brother. Whittaker said his brother was seven years younger. He graduated from Niles High School and served in the Army for two years in 1967-68 and was honorably discharged. He worked in heating and air conditioning after serving in the Army.
He said they raced cars and drank heavily.
He said William led a homosexual lifestyle and lived with their mother until she died in 1989. The last time he saw William was Christmastime in 1989 at a family gathering.
The family held an auction of their mother's things with William being in charge.
Defense Attorney Jonathan Jones of Southfield questioned Leonard if he knew his brother was in possession of silver. He answered not until after the sale. He knew he had some cash from the sale but didn't know what he did with it.
Also testifying was Det. Sgt. David VanLopik of the Michigan State Police in Paw Paw.
VanLopik worked at the Niles State Police post in 1990 and had been called to a possible suicide at 3136 M-51 North on March 7.
When he arrived, he was flagged down by a neighbor, Skip Goodman. He had been contacted by Dunnuck, who had found Whittaker in his camper trailer.
VanLopik went into the trailer and saw blood around Whittaker's face and at the table.
There was a dark mark on his forehead which he thought was a bullet hole.
He checked the trailer, which was messy and cluttered with trash.
Other police departments and state police arrived at the scene as well as an ambulance.
VanLopik looked for a weapon but didn't find one. The next day he looked for silver bars but found none. There was $2,850 hidden in a Tupperware flour container. There were pornographic magazines, homosexual in nature, he said. He found a .22 caliber cartridge there that day.
Others who testified for the prosecution were former Howard Township Police Chief Rex Clark, retired Cass County Sheriff's Det. Robert Babcock and Sgt. Kevin Dowling with the Michigan State Police, assigned at the forensic lab in Grand Rapids in the 1990s.
The trial is expected to last through Tuesday of next week.