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The River: Debunking rumors (Part 2)

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – ABC57 continues its Real Time Investigation, The River, by digging into rumors surrounding some of the cases. Since 1991, the bodies of at least half a dozen African Americans from Benton Harbor have been pulled from the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan. With no eye witnesses, theories and rumors about the cases have developed a life of their own. Our research is shedding some light on some of them.

One of the most disturbing tales involves 34-year-old Dewayne Flowers. He was last seen in November of 2013.

“He walked me half-way to work that day. And, we was texting and talking. That’s when I received one that said ‘You know you’re my queen. I’m your king.’” Arika Davis, who was dating and living with Flowers at the time, said.

When Davis came home that night, flowers was gone. A surprise to Davis because Flowers was on parole with a GPS monitor. He wasn’t supposed to be out of the house at that time of night, she said.

“His telebox was going off. I ran up stairs and was like ‘have you seen him?’ She (a woman they were living with) said ‘no, he should be sitting on the front porch.’” Davis said.

Amateur divers found his body three weeks later. It was about 20 feet from shore, behind the now closed Chase Bank on Riverview Drive. Since that day, rumors about how he died and how he was found have been spreading.

“I heard he was found with, um, weights on his feet. And, they couldn’t detect his tele because he was so deep in the water. Just heard a whole bunch of rumors.” Davis said.

“I heard they pulled him out the river and he had weights tied around his legs with chains.” Tevin Johnson, Benton Harbor resident, said.

“How can a black man drown with bricks on his legs and two 40oz under his body?” Jacqueline Perry, the cousin of another victim, Timothy Allen, said about the Flowers case.

Police records obtained by ABC57 News show there were no weights at all, but reveal how that rumor may have started. In one paragraph, the amateur diver who found the body tells investigators that the person in the water was wearing a knit cap, a jacket, long pants, tennis shoes and what appeared to be angle weights. He was also deep in the water. The diver says Flowers’ body was on the river floor, 17-feet below seas level.

Once Flowers’ body was pulled from the water, investigators realized what was described as ankle weights was actually an ankle monitor from the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“I just want answers. I think I will be at peace if I actually know what happened that night.” Davis said.

Davis still has questions. The autopsy shows flowers died from drugs, before he went into the water. How he ended up in the river is still a mystery. And, there’s still the question of who, if anyone, may have been involved.

Then there’s the case involving Timothy “Bulldog” Allen. His death was ruled an accident drowning. His family and friends all believe someone killed him. He was last seen by police leaving Lakeland Hospital, Crossing the Napier Avenue Bridge in 2011. In the years since his death, rumor of mutilation to his body have spread through Benton Harbor. Some say his braid, on top of his head, was cut off. Others have said his private parts were severed.

“That’s untrue. I don’t know where that came from.” Benton Harbor Director of Public Safety, Dan McGinnis, said.  “Unfortunately, rumors these days , especially with social media, kinda go rampant.”

The autopsy report backs McGinnis, showing at least one of those rumors is false. The report describes Allen’s genitalia as intact.

Click here to read past stories from The River: A Real Time Investigation and listen to the podcasts.

AUTOPSY REPORTS AND RELATED DOCUMENTS

Autopsy report: Alonda Brown

Autopsy report: Dewayne Flowers

Autopsy report: Eric McGinnis

Autopsy report: Michael Williams

Autopsy report: Tim Allen

Autopsy report: Willie Brand

Eric McGinnis report from the Berrien County prosecutor

DOJ report about Eric McGinnis

ISP report about Eric McGinnis

 

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