STATE NEWS IN BRIEF: Pathologist: Mall housekeeper died of heart attack

TRAVERSE CITY (MCT) — A pathologist found that a night shift housekeeper in Grand Traverse Mall died from a heart attack.

A mall walker found Ricky Alan Billings, 64, of Traverse City, dead Tuesday morning, and a cause wasn’t apparent even after a day long investigation by Grand Traverse County sheriff’s detectives.

Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Giddis said a pathologist in Grand Rapids determined Wednesday that Billings died of a heart attack. He said the finding means the probe likely won’t turn into a criminal investigation.

“It’s pretty much taking it to being a natural death at this point,” he said. “We are still tying up loose ends.”

Giddis said a wound to the top of Billings’ head didn’t contribute to his death.

 

Police investigate alleged rape of U-M student

(MCT) — A man identified as a person of interest in the alleged rape of a University of Michigan student earlier this month has contacted police.

The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security posted a crime alert online Tuesday about the Oct. 3 incident, and the man contacted police after one of his relatives saw his picture, according to Ann Arbor Police Detective Lt. Robert Pfannes.

The alert said an unknown man approached a female student who was leaving the 600 block of Church Street between 1 and 2 a.m. on Oct. 3 and took her into a nearby secluded area, where she was sexually assaulted. The alert described the man as a person of interest in the off-campus incident in the 1200 block of South University.

Pfannes said the investigation is ongoing and no arrest has been made.

 

Bashara’s marriage source of friction with ex-mistress 

(MCT) — Prosecutors called her relationship with Bob Bashara “the motive for the crime.”

On Wednesday, Rachel Gillett, Bashara’s former mistress, took the stand and testified about their relationship and plans to make a life together.

Bashara’s marital status, though, was a continuous state of friction in their relationship, causing them to repeatedly break up, Gillett testified.

Bashara would tell her: “I have this plan. I’m working on things,” she said.

She didn’t like that he was married and expressed it to Bashara in words, letters and her behavior, Gillett said.

“There was always something else that had to occur before the divorce could be final,” Gillett said at the murder trial of her former lover.

Bashara is accused of directing his former handyman to kill his wife, Jane Bashara, in January 2012.

He participated in BDSM — bondage, discipline, sadomasochism — with Gillett for years before Jane Bashara’s death, according to Wednesday’s testimony.

Bashara told Gillett in emails that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, and Gillett wanted to get married, too, she said.

In 2010, Bob Bashara gave her a diamond ring. It was a promise ring.

 

Convict gets life for killing elderly Novi woman 

(MCT) — A 47-year-old career criminal was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the stabbing and strangulation death of his elderly neighbor in January.

Peter Gerard Jones was convicted by an Oakland County jury in September of first-degree premeditated murder as well as felony murder in the death of Bernice Schaufele, 84, whose body was found in her tidy Novi condominium by her daughter on Jan. 13.

Jones — who had a criminal record dating back decades, including a manslaughter conviction for fatally stabbing a Detroit man in 1997 — lived two doors down from Schaufele in the 20900 block of West Glen Haven Circle.

During the week-long trial, jurors heard how investigators found Schaufele’s belongings, including jewelry and a make-up bag hidden in the condo Jones shared with family members. Prosecutors contend he killed her because he wanted to sell the items to support a crack cocaine addiction.

Jurors deliberated less than an hour before finding him guilty.

In addition to the life sentence, Oakland County Circuit Court judge Rae Lee Chabot also ordered that Jones pay the victim’s family $8,860 in restitution, $266 in court costs, and that he make no attempt to contact Schaufele’s family.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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