Murder mystery solved after 38 years?

Published 6:12 pm Thursday, May 5, 2016

Edwardsburg Police Chief Tim Kozal discusses his department's investigation into a 1977 Edwardsburg shooting death during a press conference at the county courthouse Thursday. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Edwardsburg Police Chief Tim Kozal discusses his department’s investigation into a 1977 Edwardsburg shooting death during a press conference at the county courthouse Thursday. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

A yearlong reinvestigation by several local law enforcement agencies into a 1977 Cass County shooting death may have solved a 38-year murder case.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz and Edwardsburg Police Chief Tim Kozal announced Thursday afternoon that open murder and felony firearm charges had been authorized against 57-year-old Raymond Robert Richmond, of South Bend, in the killing of 25-year-old Robert Stasiak. Richmond was arrested without incident earlier that morning from his residence in Indiana by Ontwa Township Police, with assistance from Indiana law enforcement agencies. Police also conducted a search of the suspect’s home.

Raymond Richmond

Raymond Richmond

Richmond is accused of shooting and killing Stasiak, his cousin, in the latter’s parent’s home in Edwardsburg more than 38 years ago, on Nov. 2, 1977; the suspect was 18 years old at the time.

“Stasiak had been a well known Edwardsburg basketball player in high school,” Fitz said, in a press conference held at the county courthouse Thursday. “He was a Navy veteran. He was also married, and was the father of a 2-year-old daughter at the time of his death.”

At the time, police ruled that the shooting was a suicide, though area law enforcement looked into the case again during the 1990s and in 2008, Fitz said.

Shortly after his hire as chief of police in 2014, Kozal, a 23-year veteran of the Kalamazoo Police Department, decided to reopen the case once more, Fitz said.

As part of their investigation, police interviewed former and new witnesses, issued investigative subpoenas and executed several warranted searches, Fitz said. In addition, police exhumed the victim’s body in November, conducting an autopsy on the body that was never performed after his death in 1977.

Officers with the Edwardsburg department were joined by staff with the prosecutor’s office as well as investigators with the Dowagiac Police Department, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and several other local departments during the investigation, who assisted with interviews and forensic work, Chief Kozal said.

“It was a total team effort,” he said. “This couldn’t have been done without the assistance that we had.”

Richmond is currently being held in custody, where he is awaiting extradition to Michigan. After that is complete he is expected to be arraigned in Cass County Court and formally charged with open murder and felony firearm, Fitz said.

Neither Kozal nor Fitz could divulge further details into the investigation or reasons for suspecting Richmond of the killing due to the fact it’s an ongoing case. However, the chief said they still have a ways to go with the case, and that his department “wouldn’t leave any stone unturned.”

“He [Fitz] mentioned justice — when I first started talking with the family, that was the one thing I said: ‘It’s time to get some justice,’” Kozal said. “I think we’re one step closer with the arrest of the suspect today.”