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Parents of murder suspect headed to trial

By Audra Gamble/The Holland Sentinel • Jan 11, 2019 at 7:00 AM

GRAND RAPIDS — The Holland parents of murder suspect Jared Chance will both be headed to trial in Kent County Circuit Court.

James Chance, 76, and Barbara Chance, 63, were each charged with being an accessory after the fact to the mutilation of a body and perjury after their 29-year-old son was arrested.

Jared Chance, a 2007 Holland High School graduate, is suspected of killing and mutilating 31-year-old Ashley Young from Kalamazoo County.

According to the Facebook page “Justice for Ashley Young,” she was a 2005 graduate of Grand Haven High School. 

Young’s torso was found by Jared Chance’s downstairs neighbor in a shared duplex at 922 Franklin St. S.E. in Grand Rapids on Dec. 2. More of Young’s body parts were found in Chance’s upper-level apartment.

Police believe James and Barbara Chance were aware their son had killed and mutilated Young by Dec. 1, when the parents and their other son, Konrad Chance, drove to Grand Rapids to pick up Jared. Jared loaded boxes into the family Honda CR-V, then the family went to Costco in Wyoming before heading back to Holland.

When Grand Rapids police searched the Chances’ Holland home on Dec. 5, police found a bloody Skil-brand saw underneath the living room love seat. Police also found an empty lemon ammonia bottle, an empty box of latex gloves and a white piece of paper with blood stains on it in the Chances’ car.

In the basement of the Holland home, police found a washcloth with human blood on it, along with a pair of gardening gloves, large blue athletic pants, underwear, socks, a T-shirt, a purple hand towel, jeans, a needle, a spoon with apparent residue and an empty prescription bottle for Jared Chance.

Both James and Barbara Chance appeared in Grand Rapids’ 61st District Court on Thursday for preliminary examinations, which determine whether there is enough evidence to send a case to trial in Circuit Court. Barbara Chance waived her right to a preliminary examination, meaning her case was automatically sent over to Circuit Court for further proceedings.

James Chance’s preliminary examination, however, included the testimony of seven witnesses. After several hours, Judge Michael Distel decided there was enough evidence for a jury to consider at trial.

Much of the testimony focused on the order of events after the Chances picked their son up from his Grand Rapids apartment on Dec. 1. According to Konrad Chance, the three Chances in Holland loaded up in the car and went to Grand Rapids that day. Once they arrived at Jared’s apartment, Jared loaded a cardboard box with a bag inside of it into the car, along with a mop and a trash bin.

″(Jared was) very disturbed,” Konrad said in court. “We went and drove around. My brother was looking for something.”

The Chances stopped at a car Konrad had recognized as Young’s, from which Jared took a pair of black boots and at least one other box.

“I thought Jared stole her car,” Konrad said.

The family then briefly stopped at the Costco in Wyoming, something none of the family members told police. During his testimony, Konrad said he didn’t remember going to the store, but agreed it was possible after seeing store footage of the family inside the store at 10:52 a.m.

The Chance family was back in Holland by 12:30 p.m., because the two brothers were captured on a Holland liquor store’s video surveillance buying hard cider. This directly contradicts the information James Chance told police in an interview, stating it was dark out by the time he and his family got back to Holland.

Jared Chance slept on his parents’ couch that night and was taken back to Grand Rapids the next morning. With the boxes in the back of the Honda, the Chance family made a stop at the Grand Rapids Police Department. Konrad and Barbara stayed in the car, but James took Jared into the police station to make a statement. The pair were inside the lobby for less than two minutes, but said they were turned away and told to contact the Kalamazoo County police about Young’s whereabouts.

The Chances then took the boxes and cleaning equipment back to Jared’s apartment, where Konrad helped his brother unload the boxes from the car and into the stairway leading up to his apartment.

Not immediately contacting the police and moving around the boxes (which potentially contained Young’s missing body parts) helped Jared Chance hide evidence, prosecutors say.

In an interview with Sgt. John Purlee, James Chance told the GRPD sergeant that he didn’t look inside the boxes his son loaded into the car.

“He expressed he was frightful of the contents of the box,” Purlee said. “The boxes were in his Honda, and had (police) had the opportunity to look in them, we would have found evidence — even possibly the head.”

Police have yet to find Young’s head, neck, feet, hands or a .22-caliber handgun investigators believe was in Jared Chance’s possession at the time of Young’s murder.

James Chance is a 24-year veteran of a police department in Illinois and was a sergeant when he retired. Because of that history, prosecutor Lawrence Boivin said James Chance knew exactly what he was doing when he lied about what time his family got back to Holland on Dec. 1.

“Time is crucial, garbage gets taken out,” Boivin said. “It deprives us of the ability to follow up on leads. A cop of 24 years knows that. He tried his best to put us off the scene. He gave Jared the perfect opportunity to continue dismembering Ashley and getting rid of evidence.”

In his initial interview with Purlee, James Chance talked about his police background.

“Within the first few minutes of me sitting down, he said he was glad he wasn’t working this case,” Purlee said. “I heard him say it ‘was a tough case.’”

Further court dates have yet to be set for either James or Barbara Chance. Jared Chance was expected to appear in court today for a preliminary hearing on his open murder charge.

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