Unsolved Michigan murder from 1977 sends investigators to West Coast

PORT SHELDON, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – New DNA lab results and tips to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office have detectives looking to the West Coast to interview several people about the 1977 murder of 20 year old Deborah Lynn Polinsky.

Investigative Division Captain Mark Bennett says detectives will be speaking with those who lived near the Holland area in the late 70s during the time of the murder, but have since moved to the West Coast.

“I can’t classify these people as suspects by any means,” said Bennett.

“However, they are some people that might have some good information for us…hopefully it will yield positive and we’ll have some updates later.”

Bennett says the people detectives are hoping to interview have been interviewed before, but the new tips and DNA lab results prompted the Sheriff’s Office to solidify plans to re-interview.

For the last 18 months, Bennett says there’s been a new push to re-evaluate the unsolved murder of Polinsky.

In 1977, Polinsky was found to be stabbed multiple times inside her rented Port Sheldon Township farmhouse.

Hundreds were interviewed including family and friends, but no suspects were ever identified.

New DNA technology recently provided a potential breakthrough in the case. Bennett says the new data shows there was a female present in Polinksy’s home when she was murdered.

Bennett also said based on the crime scene at the time, there did not appear to be forced entry into the home, adding that Polinsky’s notoriously protective dog did not appear to be in distress or phased.

“Maybe she knew her assailant, one would assume that the dog was familiar with the assailant,” he said.

Contrary to initial investigative reports in 1977, Bennett added detectives currently do not believe Polinsky was sexually assaulted.

The farmhouse remains largely unchanged since Polinsky’s murder in 1977.

Bennett says part of the renewed push to solve the crime involved reconstructing the crime scene inside the home, and speaking with those who knew Polinsky.

“We know that Polinksy liked to hang out in the Holland area, she had many friends and was quite a social person…she also liked to hang out in Saugatuck,” he added.

Polinsky’s family still lives in West Michigan.

Her younger sister, Claudia Ganzevoort was 19 when her sister was murdered, and says the new developments in the case bring both optimism and painful memories.

“She would have turned 60 this week,” said Ganzevoort. “We’ve been reliving the murder for 40 years now, but with the new findings we’re really positive and hopeful.

Ganzevoort says both of Polinsky’s parents are still alive, but elderly.

“They’re hoping for closure, if there is such a thing,” she added.

Polinsky’s sister remains convinced that there are some in West Michigan who may hold the keys to solving the mystery of her sister’s murder.

“If anyone has any information, I would just really urge them to come forward,” she continued. “No matter how small you think it is…it could be something they really need to close the case.”

Investigators say they’re hopeful those with any tips on Polinsky’s murder will contact Captain Mark Bennett and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 616.738.4022.

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