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SMC students assist police with 1977 cold case murder investigation

CASS COUNTY, Mich. -

After nearly 40 years Edwardsburg Police believe they’ve solved the 1977 murder of 25-year-old Robert Stasiak.

And we are learning they didn’t do it alone.

Investigators enlisted in the help of local college students.

It’s called the Seeking Justice Project.

It allows a small group of criminal students the chance to assist police with investigations in Cass County.

 “We have in Michigan since 1970 there have been over 11,000 unsolved homicide cases and that is just an injustice,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said.

One unsolved mystery was in Edwardsburg, the 1977 murder of Robert Stasiak.

In 2015 investigators reopened this case.

They worked tirelessly for a year and a half before charging Stasiak’s cousin 56-year-old Raymond Richmond with murder.  

Police didn’t act alone.

Stephanie Rich along with two other criminal justice students at Southwestern Michigan College and Ferris State University assisted with this cold case.

 “We’d read through the case and make notes of important events,” Rich explained.

“They provided a fresh set of eyes they indexed files,” SMC Criminal Justice Program Director Donald Ricker added.

The seeking justice project was initiated by the prosecutors association and is in its third year.

After a lengthy application process, interviews, and background checks a team of three criminal just students was picked to work on this investigation.

 “They clearly were of assistance and provided some benefit in the way of organizational skills for this case and even some analysis of the reports,” Fitz said.

Students said it was nothing short of a challenge.

They’re relieved to have helped bring a sense of closure to one Edwardsburg family.

 “Yes it’s nice that we got an arrest. But it’s just the beginning so justice will hopefully prevail,” Rich explained.

Richmond’s preliminary hearing was initially scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

It has been rescheduled for June 19th.

Prosecutors are hopeful his trial will begin in a few months.

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