Community unites during Justice for Janette walk

REED CITY — Nearly 32 years after the murder of 27-year-old Janette Roberson, community members showed their support with the friends and family of the woman by joining the second annual Justice for Janette walk, which took place in downtown Reed City on Saturday.

The walk began last year as a way to increase awareness of the case of Roberson's unsolved murder, which took place on Jan. 19, 1983. Her body was discovered in the basement of the Gamble’s store in downtown Reed City where she was employed. Though the event has helped bring the crime to the forefront of people's minds, it also led to an increase of tips and information for the Michigan State Police and Reed City Police Department.

The Justice for Janette walk began at the Reed City Depot, with organizer and family friend Carrie Hudson thanking attendees, media and the police departments for their continued support and faith, as well as setting a firm belief that the case will finally be put to rest.

"We'd love to see this case solved and give closure to Janette's family and the city of Reed City as well," Hudson said. "Her murder left a wound on this town that has never healed."

She described Roberson as incredibly kind to everyone she met, as well as an animal lover and an artist.

"Janette was a lovely woman and an extraordinary mother," Hudson said. "She was patient, gentle and one of the sweetest people ever."

After a welcome and prayer by Jeff Cole, walkers headed downtown, stopping at Reed City Hardware, the former Gamble's store. There, Roberson's niece, Elena Cavendar, read a passage from her mother, Lana.

"For 32 years Janette has not received justice, for 32 years the person who killed her has been free to do as they please, not Janette," Cavendar read. "For 32 years this person has been able to live, not Janette. For 32 years this case has been stagnant because no one has come forward with a name or a memory. For 32 years Janette's family has waited. For 32 years there has been nothing. For 32 years this person has robbed Janette's family of her personality, her knowledge and her artistic talent. If any of you have ever had to pleasure to meet her you know this is true. Janette and her family deserve justice, they don't deserve platitudes or excuses, they deserve answers."

Walkers continued marching downtown before making their way back to the depot for refreshments and fellowship.

"I loved the support today," Hudson said following the event. "It makes us know that Reed City community is behind us and wants to see the case solved as much as we do. People want to clean the stain off the city and people have picked up the fight right along with us."

The event, called a "positive pressure," could be just the thing to give witnesses strength to come forward.

"We encourage people to think about what they saw and heard that day she was taken," Hudson added. "The littlest thing could help."

Cavendar said solving the case is always the goal for her and other family members.

"People need to talk to the police," she said. "Closing the case would be a weight lifted off my shoulders and it would mean I could sleep better at night."

To share information or tips regarding Roberson's case, call the Reed City Police Department at (231) 832- 3743 or the Michigan State Police at (989) 773-5951.