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Flahive's stolen badge mystery

Kevin Collier • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:54 AM

But it would be another December day that would resurrect despair and create a mystery that some believed would never be solved.

On Dec. 5, 1999, Officer Flahive's police badge, which had been embedded in his headstone at Lake Forest Cemetery, was stolen from his grave. News of the stolen badge quickly made local and national headlines, and a six-year search began.

“I remember when I heard that the badge was taken,” said Lisa Flahive, sister of the fallen officer. “It felt like being victimized all over again. What is wrong with a person that they would pry the very badge of a murdered officer from his headstone?”

From the moment Officer Flahive's badge went missing, the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety made the case a personal matter. Authorities made appeals to the public via the media seeking information as to the whereabouts of the badge. Hope languished.  

“There was a manhunt trying to find the badge,” Lt. Joe Boyle recalled. “(The badge) was out there and people knew about it, but the case went cold for a while and we lost all leads.”

For six long years, the whereabouts of Officer Flahive's badge remained a mystery, until mid-December 2005 when a driver was pulled over in the City of Grand Haven under suspicion of driving while intoxicated. After being arrested, the motorist told the officer he had knowledge of where to find Flahive's badge.

Boyle was quite surprised when the information reached his desk.

“(The offender) knew where the badge was, and said if we could help him out of his situation he might lead us to it,” Boyle recalled. “Well, he ended up going to jail. We don't make deals.

"The more I spoke to this subject, it became more apparent he wanted to provide this information to me," Boyle continued. "I told the individual to come to the department and speak to me the next day if he was serious about providing me this information.”

Four days after the subject had been arrested, Boyle got a pleasant surprise. 

“He had a conscience,” Boyle said. “He called the station and said he had the badge and was willing to turn it over to me, after assurances he would not be charged for anything involving its theft. Although hesitant on coming to the department, the subject agreed to do this for the Flahive family, especially being so close to Christmas.” 

On Dec. 22, 2005, the DUI offender arrived at the police station and handed an mint tin box to Boyle. He opened it, and inside was Flahive's badge.

Authorities learned the person who had stolen the badge no longer lived in Michigan. The individual, a juvenile when the crime was committed, became frightened due to public outcry days following the theft and had hidden the badge inside a wall in his parent's home.

Christmas 2005 became a blessing for the Flahive family.

During its six-year disappearance, Lynn Emmert, Scott Flahive's mother, had imagined the thief tossed the badge into the river so he wouldn't be caught. The officer's father, Craig Flahive, gave the recovered badge to Scott's sister, Lisa.

“Giving the badge to Lisa was a fitting end to the mystery,” Craig Flahive told the Grand Haven Tribune at the time.

“Recovering the badge was not so much about having it back as the symbolism of not allowing evil to win in our community,” Lisa Flahive said, looking back. “The badge gave Scott's buddies, fellow officers and the community a chance to overcome evil with good, and it pulled us together.”

A replica of Scott Flahive's badge is presently embedded in his headstone.

“We can't always stop horrible tragedies from happening, but we can band together in the aftermath and be determined to be better, not bitter,” Lisa Flahive added. “That's what makes Grand Haven special.”

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