Cold case progress shows benefits of collaboration

Last week, Cass County law enforcement leaders announced that an arrest had been made in connection with a cold case they had unthawed a year earlier.

During a press conference at the Cass County Law and Courts Building Thursday afternoon, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz and Edwardsburg Police Chief Tim Kozal announced that charges had been authorized again South Bend’s Raymond Robert Richmond in connection with the shooting death of his cousin, Robert Stasiak — a crime that occurred nearly 40 years ago, on Nov. 2, 1977. Richmond, who today is 57, was awaiting extradition to Michigan at the time of press conference.

The case of Stasiak’s death, which at the time was classified by police as a suicide, was reopened by Kozal soon after he took the reigns of the Edwardsburg police department in 2014. A former cold case detective in Kalamazoo, Kozal appeared to be the right person to launch such an investigation.

As part of the new investigation, officers interviewed former and new eyewitnesses and executed several search warrants. In addition, the police exhumed and examined Stasiak’s body, something that did not occur at the time of his death, before reinterring it.

Edwardsburg officers didn’t have to handle the case by themselves, though, as officers with the Dowagiac Police Department, Cass County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies were essential to providing manpower to the investigation, helping out with witness interviews, forensics and other tasks.

While it remains to be seen whether Richmond is indeed the culprit, the fact that an arrest was made and progress has continued on an old murder case is a sign that Cass County law enforcement isn’t content with sitting on old, unsolved crimes.

That is a positive thing, in our opinion.

With several prominent Cass County murders still unsolved, the fact is that many local families still must deal with the loss of a loved one to a senseless violent act. Police owe it to these victims — and the greater public they serve — that these households see justice.

The teamwork between the agencies working on the cold case was impressive as well.

While long known for their ability to work together, such as through the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team, it is great to see to so many different entities get together to help solve these major issues.

We hope that the model of cooperation seen over the past year continues with future cases, and that every family dealing with an unsolved mystery can move that much closer to healing.

 

Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.

 

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