Police: Fatal hit-and-run suspect moves woman's body from scene

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:45 PM EDT
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VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - A 29-year-old White Pigeon man is in jail and is expected to face multiple felony charges at his arraignment Thursday after he reportedly hit a pedestrian earlier this week then moved her body from the scene.

Police will release his name once the hearing takes place.

Sheriff Daniel Abbott told 16 News Now the husband of Melody Rohrer, 64, called 911 sometime around 8:15 Monday morning when Rohrer, of Decatur, hadn’t returned home from her daily walk. Investigators retraced her route. Dozens of officers across different agencies searched from the sky and ground, ultimately finding skid marks, car parts, plus three of Melody’s belongings near C.R. 215 and 84th Avenue in Hamilton Township.

Still, Rohrer was nowhere to be found.

“...not knowing if she had been hit and wandered off - or if our fear was correct, that she had been hit and somebody removed her,” said Sheriff Abbott.

Over the course of Monday, Abbott said the description of a suspect driver - a male - took shape. Undercover detectives sat near his residence and waited for him to leave to build more on the case. Ultimately, detectives located the suspect in a parking lot. The 29-year-old man from White Pigeon later told investigators what they feared had happened.

“He did take us to where the body was moved,” Abbott said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the suspect led police to a wooded area in St. Joseph County, Mich., near where four counties (Kalamazoo, Van Buren, Cass, and St. Joseph) intersect. There, officers found Melody Rohrer, whom the driver reportedly hit Monday morning near C.R. 215 and 84th Avenue.

“We’re grateful that we got closure for the family. We were able to come to a resolution within 24 hours, which is hard to do when you had nothing to go on. It falls 100% on the investigators investigating the case and everybody putting forth the effort they did,” remarked Abbott.

The sheriff says the suspect and Rohrer did not know each other. There are no crash witnesses who have come forward. Abbott said he can’t release, at this time, the suspect’s motive for moving Rohrer’s body.

The suspect could face three felony charges at his Thursday arraignment, including vehicular manslaughter; failure to stop at a scene of a serious personal injury accident; and concealing the death of an individual.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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