It's strange when old memories will pop up. This week I happened across a picture of a turkey vulture and it suddenly brought to mind a murder case I covered early in my career at the Oakland Press.
Before Rochester Hills was Rochester Hills it was Avon Township. One evening in July 1984, I monitored police scanner traffic that indicated a homicide had occurred at a home there. As more officers arrived it was apparent that this was pretty awful.
I drove to the scene and while watching the front of the house at one point a detective who I saw go into the house, emerged and vomited over the porch railing. That's when I knew it had to be pretty gory inside the house. It's pretty rare that a seasoned detective becomes nauseous at an accident or murder scene.
Later I learned that two men, high on drugs, booze or both, had been left home to party with a woman, her teenage daughter and a nine-year-old niece. At some point the murder frenzy began and all three females were stabbed to death. The nine-year-old was stabbed 27 times. Overkill in its purest form.
The two men took off after the triple homicide, but the husband, father and uncle of the three victims quickly provided detectives with names of the men he had left at home with his family and they were arrested.
Bill Fischer was a truck driver and Michael Kvam (I never forgot their names and check on their prison status at least once a year to make sure they serve every day of their life sentences) a young man that Fischer befriended. The links on their names will take you to a page with their photos and conviction information.
At their arraignment, a photographer and I staked out the back door of the courthouse so I could shout a question at the two men and the photographer could snap a photo. Members of Fischer and Kvam's family were also looking to see the two men and there was a brief confrontation between we and they.
At one point, a friend or family member of Bill Fischer shouted out to me and the photographer that we were "vultures." The irony of being called "vultures" by the family and friends of two men charged with killing a woman, her daughter and nine-year-old niece was not lost on the photographer or me.
This was the case that convinced a circuit court judge who had been opposed to the death penalty that in at least some cases it should be applied.