Sheriff: Father accused in Stanwood quadruple homicide

BIG RAPIDS — Police have identified a suspect in the quadruple homicide of a family of four last month in Stanwood.

Charles Gillard, 51, of Austin Township, faces multiple charges in the shooting deaths of his wife, Dawn Gillard, 40, and their three children Katelynn Gillard, 6, Ronald Gillard, 4, and Joshua Gillard, 3.

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 27, police responded near 180th and Johnson Road, in Austin Township for a report of a male with a gun and shots fired. Upon arrival, they found three children under the age of 10 years old and an adult female dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

"I don't know if you can ever be ready for what we saw that day — three young lives — but I think it affected everybody that was there present that day," Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller said at a news conference Wednesday, June 15. "A lot of us have children of our own, and it was very hard for all of us."

Police also found a 51-year-old male, identified by Miller as Charles Gillard, at the scene with a gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital, later transferred to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, before being transferred to University of Michigan Hospital, in critical condition for his injuries.

According to Miller, Gillard is due to be released from the hospital in the next couple of weeks. 

Upon his release, Mecosta County Chief Prosecutor Amy Clapp said the attorney's office will issue the following charges:

  • Count 1: Homicide, open murder
  • Count 2: Felony firearm
  • Count 3: Homicide, open murder
  • Count 4: Felony firearm
  • Count 5: Homicide, open murder
  • Count 6: Felony firearm
  • Count 7: Homicide, open murder
  • Count 8: Felony firearm
  • Count 9: Child abuse in the first degree
  • Count 10: Child abuse in the first degree
  • Count 11: Child abuse in the first degree
  • Count 12: Child abuse, first-degree, committed in the presence of another child
  • Count 13: Child abuse, first-degree, committed in the presence of another child
  • Count 14: Discharge of a firearm in a building causing death
  • Count 15: Felony firearm

"Each of the charged offenses, except for the felony firearm counts, are punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment," Clapp said. "Felony firearm is punishable by two years consecutively with and proceeding any term of imprisonment that might be imposed for the felony convictions.

"These are allegations and charges only," Clapp continued. "Charles Gillard is presumed to be innocent and will retain that presumption until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law."

At the arraignment, a probable-cause conference and preliminary examination will be scheduled.

"We expect that to happen in the next couple of weeks as his prognosis from the University of Michigan is good," Clapp said