Students in the WMU Cold Case Program assist Michigan State Police detectives in their investigations on some of Michigan's unsolved cold and missing person cases.  We work with detectives from multiple districts in Michigan, and with victim’s family members in many cases that span decades.  The Program has already helped detectives bring closure to two decades-old murders with possibilities for more solved cases on the horizon.

Solved Cases

Solved Cases

Roxanne Wood

A 30-year-old woman named Roxanne was found dead in her Niles, Michigan home on February 19, 1987. The identity of her killer remained a mystery for over 30 years. But in 2020, the Michigan State Police reopened the case and enlisted the help of the WMU Cold Case Team and Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick of Identifinders International. With their combined efforts, the long-standing question of who murdered Roxanne was finally answered. The stunning revelation led to the arrest and conviction of Patrick Gilham in 2022.

Cathy Swartz

On a very cold, wintery day, December 2nd, 1988, 19-year-old Cathy Swartz was found dead on the floor of her bedroom apartment by her fiancé when he returned home from work in the afternoon. She appeared to have been beaten and stabbed to death. Detectives also noted there were signs of attempted rape and self-defense wounds. Cathy’s 8-month-old daughter was in her crib unharmed. There were no signs of forced entry into her home so she possibly knew her attacker. The only evidence left at the scene was DNA found on her body and bloody hand-prints in her home.

Current Cases

Current Cases

Ann Paetz

The mysterious murder of 23-year-old Ann Paetz still haunts investigators more than two decades later. Ann was driving from her Saginaw home to Montrose, but she never arrived at her destination. Her body was found 15 miles away from where her car was found on July 2nd, 1999. The case remains unsolved. But hope remains, as the WMU Cold Case Program works with detectives to help uncover the truth.

Janis Sanders

The disappearance of Janis Sanders is a haunting mystery that has remained unsolved for nearly five decades. On July 20, 1975, Janis was last seen leaving her job as a waitress in Niles, Michigan. Her estranged boyfriend, whom she had recently ended things with, followed her to the parking lot as she left work. The following day, Janis was reported missing by her family. Despite their efforts, the case remained cold for years while her two children dedicated decades to finding new leads and convincing authorities to reopen the investigation. In September 2022, MSP reopened the case and enlisted the help of the WMU Cold Case team to help solve this chilling mystery. In November 2022, MSP updated Janis' classification from Missing Person to Homicide Abducted.


Note: Given the confidential nature of investigations and cold cases, the list of current cases is not necessarily reflective of all cases the WMU Cold Case Program is working on.