A Michigan State Police lieutenant described how police identified a Hartland man as a suspect in a Clay Township killing more than 25 years after the crime.
During John Germain’s review hearing on Tuesday, MSP Lt. Eric Shumaker said he had been tasked with a cold case investigation for the murder of Virginia Cecelia Farrell, 79, who was found stabbed to death at his Harcus Court home on 17 May. , 1997.
Shumaker said he launched a second cold case investigation in 2019. When the case was investigated between 2006 and 2008, a DNA profile was developed, but no suspects were identified.
Shumaker said he asked for a review of Farrell’s fingernail clippings and other evidence. Investigators developed a DNA profile that was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, a police DNA database used to match potential suspects to DNA evidence from crime scenes.
A match identifying Germain came back from a police report in Louisiana in July 2019, Shumaker said. The police surveilled Germain’s home in Hartland and recovered a Monster Energy Box with Germain’s DNA to match it to the profile recovered from Farrell’s fingernail clippings.
A hair found on Farrell and a rectal swab taken from her also matched Germain’s DNA, Shumaker said.
“The evidence pointed to no one other than Mr. Germain,” Shumaker said.
Graham Rummel, a Clay Township police sergeant at the time of the crime, said he arrived at Farrell’s home on May 17, 1997, and observed tears in the window screens of the house. He said it looked like someone had entered the house through the kitchen window, as the window was smashed and footprints were made on an overturned box placed against the house and under the window.
He entered the house to find Farrell under a bloody blanket on the couch. He said he also saw a pair of blue underwear on the floor next to Farrell.
Rummel immediately left the house and called for backup and the Michigan State Police crime lab.
Kamu Virami, who was employed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner at the time of the murder and performed the autopsy on Farrell, said Farrell had multiple stab wounds to his head, neck, chest and chest. abdomen, as well as defensive wounds to the hands. He called her death a homicide.
Frederick Lepley, Germain’s attorney, said there was insufficient evidence to establish criminal sexual conduct, as there was no evidence of sexual assault or injury to Farrell’s body, and no sperm were found.
There is also no motive, nor eyewitnesses or testimonies to place Germain at the scene. Lepley said it also doesn’t make sense that more DNA from Germain wasn’t found elsewhere in the house.
“When he does a violent attack, there’s no DNA anywhere other than those two little areas,” Lepley said. “It just doesn’t make much sense.”
St. Clair County Senior Assistant District Attorney Amy Goodrich says crime scene DNA links Germain to the murder because there is no other reason Germain’s DNA is on the victim. . Farrell’s rectal swab and the fact that she was found without her underwear and in her undress show that she was also sexually assaulted, she said.
“We know there’s no reason for (Germain’s) DNA to be involved, but for the fact that while he was trying to sexually assault her… she was fighting back,” Goodrich said.
St. Clair County District Court Judge Michael Hulewicz bound the case in St. Clair County Circuit Court on all three counts of open murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree home invasion, which was changed from breaking and entering to better reflect the law and the circumstances of the crime.
Several people filled the wooden benches during the hearing, including the families of the victim and the accused. Sherry Alef, who lives about six houses from Farrell’s former home, was also there with a neighbor.
Alef said that although she never knew Germain, she said Germain’s father lived about two doors down from her.
She was still living in her current home at the time of the murder. She said the crime put her and many other neighbors at risk. While she never used to lock her doors before the murder, she always kept her house locked afterward.
“It was really shocking,” she said. “Kids could camp in the front yard and that ended immediately.”
Alef said several of his neighbors from that time are still living in their homes. She knew the case was being reconsidered, as she was re-examined about it a few years ago. It’s exciting that new technology can be used to finally solve crime and put many people at ease, she said.
Joe Burlager, who said Germain is his cousin’s son, was also present. He said he stayed in touch with Germain throughout his life, but never knew he lived anywhere other than Michigan. He didn’t think Germain was capable of such a horrible crime.
Germain is being held on $1 million bail.
Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]