Families of cold case murders in Battle Creek seek justice

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Families of cold case murder victims are pushing for change, and hoping to finally get justice.

Right now, there are 84 unsolved murders in Calhoun County and no official cold case team to look into them.

Friday night, the group Families Against Murder, for Equal justice gathered at a Battle Creek church to remember all those lives lost.

The vigil Friday was the 14th such gathering for the group that organizer Bonnie Nunnally has put together since her son was murdered 18 years ago.

She says when there was a cold case team in place, she had a real belief she would find justice. Now, she's struggling just to keep up hope.

"He was on his way to his girlfriend's home," Nunnally said of her son Jermell DeShaun. "He got to the steps of the door, and they ambushed him, they opened fire on him."

Jermell was 21 years old.

"It was my youngest son. He was killed in 1996. There was no arrest and there is still no arrest for his murder," Nunnally said.

Since his death, 34 names have been added to the list of unsolved murders in Battle Creek.

"It's just unbelievable for a city this small to have that many unsolved murders," Nunnally said.

The biggest problem came at the height of the 2009 recession, when Battle Creek's cold case team was dismantled.

She says it's given her unsolved murder vigils a new purpose.

Nunnally is hoping city leaders will determine that the list is unacceptable.

"Every time we do a vigil, we invite the city commission," she said.

She wants them to bring the cold case team back, but so far she says all she's received is a cold shoulder, and there's a limit to how much peace of heart and mind that lighting a candle can bring.

"Right now, it's just like our loved ones have been forgotten and nothing is being done," she said.

Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert said Friday night that his office is actively working on several cold cases. He says that reforming a county-wide cold case team is the goal that they are working toward.