Justice for Janette walk to take place in Reed City

Annual event brings attention to 40 year old murder

The murder of Janette Roberson 40 years ago in Reed City remains unsolved. The annual Justice for Janette walk attempts to bring attention to the case and turn up new leads.

The murder of Janette Roberson 40 years ago in Reed City remains unsolved. The annual Justice for Janette walk attempts to bring attention to the case and turn up new leads.

Pioneer file photo

REED CITY — The annual Justice for Janette walk in downtown Reed City will take place from noon to 3 p.m., Jan. 21.
Participants will meet at the Reed City Depot at noon and walk to the former Gamble’s Department Store in downtown Reed City, where the murder took place 40 years ago.

This event is held every year to bring attention to the unsolved murder case in hopes that new leads will come forward and one piece of information will set of a chain reaction that will lead to the case being solved.

On Jan. 19, 1983, 27-year-old Janette Roberson was found brutally beaten on the basement floor of what was then Gamble’s, where she worked at the time. 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 at the store.Police first looked at Roberson's husband, Alvin Roberson, but soon ruled him out as a suspect.

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 told the Herald Review previously. "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 like 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.

Stephens said they have received several tips over the 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 tips or leads as they come in," Stephens said.

Anyone with information about the case can 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.