Justice for Janette walk scheduled for Jan. 18
REED CITY -- Family and friends of murder victim Janette Roberson will gather once again for the annual 'Justice for Janette Walk,' which will take place from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18.
Participants will meet at the Reed City Depot and will walk to the former Gamble's store in downtown Reed City, where the murder occurred 37 years ago.
This event is held every year to bring attention to the unsolved murder in hopes that new leads will come forward, Roberson's sister, Lanna Jarvie said.
"The killer needs to be found," Jarvie said. "Every year we do this, and it generates tips. We are hoping one of these pieces of information will set off a chain reaction that will lead to the case being solved."
Thirty-seven years ago, on Jan. 19, 1983, 27-year-old Roberson was found brutally beaten on the basement floor of what was then Gamble's, where she had been working.
The murder took place in the middle of the day, in broad daylight, with customers shopping on the floor above.
Roberson had been bludgeoned with a blunt object and stabbed multiple times with several objects found in the store. The case remains unsolved today.
"Somebody out there knows something, and they need to come forward," Jarvie said. "I just hope they never have to go through this."
Police first looked at Roberson's husband, Alvin Roberson, but soon ruled him out as a suspect.
Shortly after the murder, he took their children and moved out of town.
Jarvie said she has not had any contact with her sister's family since the murder because they have chosen not to talk to her.
"I have been Alvin's greatest champion," Jarvie said. "I never thought he did it. The police will have to convince me to the last breath before I will believe it. There is no way he could have done this."
Over the years, the Reed City Police Department has partnered with the Michigan State Police to collect countless tips and perform dozens of interviews to try to piece together what happened that day, so far, to no avail.
"In 2015, Michigan State Police formed a cold case task force to investigate unsolved cases," Sgt. Mike Stephens said. "Part of that assignment includes following up on any tips we receive on this case."
Detectives put together binders of background information and ordered evidence collected for new testing.
Trace evidence such as hair, fibers and reliable DNA is being looked at.
New technologies could possibly point to a potential suspect and shine a light on the decades-old mystery.
"We are in constant contact with our laboratory scientists inquiring about any advances in technology and evidence items are considered for re-examination based on these advances," Stephens said.
Jarvie said she has not heard of any new developments in the case, but she has not been kept informed.
"Every time I see a new method of testing, I send it to the detectives looking at the case," she said. "But they don't keep me up-to-date. This is still an open and active case."
Stephens said they have received several tips over the past couple of years, but nothing has led to the identity of any new suspects.
While they have not been able to identify any new suspects, they do not consider anyone "cleared" and will not until the person responsible is convicted, he added.
"An unsolved homicide case is never closed, and we follow up on any leads or tips as they come in," he said.
Jarvie said she has suffered from anxiety since the murder, and her stress level is through the roof at times.
"I question peoples' motives," she said. "I don't believe in human kindness anymore. Somebody out there knows who did this, and they are not coming forward."
Jarvie said she hopes bringing attention to the case through this annual walk will lead to solving the case.
Anyone with information about the case may contact the Reed City Police Department at (231) 832-3743, the Michigan State Police at (989) 773-5951, or the Michigan State Police Crime Stoppers tip line at (800) 773-2587.