Fatal car fire on I-96 now called a murder

Becky Vargo • Nov 9, 2015 at 2:11 PM

WRIGHT TWP. — What was thought to be a fatal crash and car fire early Monday morning on I-96 is now being called a murder.

Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said the investigation has revealed a 37-year-old woman was killed in Grand Rapids, and her body and car were brought to Ottawa County, lit on fire and abandoned.

Motorists passing by reported the car fire at about 2:30 a.m. on eastbound I-96 near 24th Avenue in Wright Township.

Emergency crews responding to the scene found the car fully involved in fire. Once it was extinguished, they discovered the burned body.

Traffic was backed up on eastbound I-96 for several hours during the morning rush hour, as only one lane of traffic was open during the police investigation. The highway wasn’t fully opened until shortly after 10 a.m.

Bennett said the incident was initially investigated as a car fire, but evidence at the scene indicated otherwise.

Shortly after responding to the scene, deputies noticed a 45-year-old Grand Rapids man walking along Ironwood Street near Eighth Avenue, a couple of miles away from the incident location.

“Deputies found him to be connected to the burning vehicle,” Bennett said.

The man was arrested and the ensuing investigation revealed the homicide information.

The case and the suspect have been turned over to the Grand Rapids Police Department. The incident remains under investigation, Bennett said.

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