Death in a Cemetery
by Robert A. Waters
November in Constantine, Michigan is usually bitter cold, but on the 8th, in 2007, it was shirt-sleeve weather. The girl riding the slick silver Mongoose bike wore a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers. It was 4:45 in the afternoon, and Jodi Christine Parrack was on her way home after visiting a friend.
She had straw-blond hair and brown eyes. She was pretty, in the tom-boyish way of eleven-year-olds. Her friend’s house was less than three blocks from the home Jodi shared with her mother and siblings. But somewhere along the route, she disappeared. When she wasn’t home by 5:30 (her curfew), Valerie Carver and several friends began looking for her.
At about 7:00, Valerie reported her daughter missing and police joined residents in searching for the girl. A few hours later, her bicycle was found leaning against a tombstone in the Constantine Township Cemetery. Jodi’s body was nearby, still clothed. Her mother was one of those who found her. The cemetery is about a mile from Jodi’s home. The ironic thing is that the child hated graveyards and wouldn’t go near them, so it’s highly improbable that she went there on her own.
Constantine is called the Seed Corn Capital of the World. It has all of 2,065 residents and a small police force. Jim Bedell, who retired as a detective after 25 years with the state police, was recently hired by the village as chief of police. He announced that his top priority is solving the girl’s murder. To help him, he asked his old employers, the Michigan State Police, for help. In January, 2011, they sent a team of experienced cold case investigators in to help work on the case.
Unlike many jurisdictions, the local police have released little information about the case. Even the cause of death has not been given out. It is known that a DNA profile was obtained from the scene of the crime, although whether it was discovered on her body, her clothing, or elsewhere is unknown. Numerous people have been tested, but there have been no matches.
It is also known that police interviewed more than two dozen registered sex offenders in the area.
Bedell claims that no one, not even relatives, have been ruled out. The killer is likely someone who lives or works in the area. The police chief thinks the murderer may have known Jodi or her family. With such a small pool of possible suspects, it’s likely that the case will eventually be solved.
It’s unfortunate that Michigan has no death penalty. When he’s caught and convicted, the killer will live the rest of his life eating, sleeping, and doing many of the things that pleasure mankind.