MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Paul Girard was found stabbed to death on Presque Isle Park in the early morning hours of September 30, 1988. This week we learned there are two persons of interest in this case, and a sketch released of one of them.
Hank Steede was the original detective in charge of solving Paul Girard’s death. Steede says he still remembers the day vividly.
Steede said, “I was at the police station at the time and received a call of a dead body out on the island. I responded there and immediately upon arriving at the scene, I recognized who the victim was. Somebody who we’d had some contact with in the past.”
Steede said one of biggest challenges was the location of the crime. He says it was a wide open area and the crime happened in an area of Presque Isle Park that was supposed to be closed.
“A lot of times in a case like this, you might have witnesses. We had no witnesses. You might have tire tracks, but the island was closed during that time.”
Steede said other roadblocks came in the form of witnesses and someone who said they committed the crime.
“We spent months, even years trying to show that that person did it, and never having any evidence. I believe at this point was not involved. I think it was a mental thing that he was going through and he was saying this stuff. ” Steede continued, “We initially had no suspect, somebody that obviously had a grudge against him or an issue with him, that sort of thing. People would come with information. We would do multiple, multiple interviews. I believe that Detective Heslip is doing a great job of putting together some pieces that we didn’t have.”
Steede said that the scene he discovered on that day are still with him, nearly 32 years later.
“When I drive around the island, I can still see Paul Girard laying there, the whole scene is very vivid to me, even all these years later.”
He is still hopeful justice will be served.
“Nobody deserves to die in this way, and to have the case not resolved.” Steede continued, “I would love nothing more than to have this case resolved and when I go to my grave that I know it’s been taken care of.”
While Hank Steede was running the investigation, at the time, there was a brand new detective also assigned to the case. Mike Angeli is the current Marquette City Manager. He also served as Chief of Police of Marquette City. Angeli reflected on the case and the amount of resources that have been spent on it.
“As a police officer, you hate to have a case like this hanging out there, unsolved. Especially after all the work that was put into it.”
He also recalled the violent nature of the crime, saying whoever killed Girard, did it intentionally.
“Whoever did it was very angry, obviously. I mean, just from the nature of the wounds the number of the wounds. He was stabbed in the 60’s I think and there was a lot of aggression there.” Angeli continued, “This was not a planned crime. This was not an organized crime. That was not something that was very sophisticated. So it’s frustrating that we can’t break through that barrier of just finding out who it was.”
With the release of a new composite sketch of a person of interest, Angeli is hopeful the image will inspire witnesses to come forward.
“Even though it’s been thirty some years maybe to stir a memory or something in someone’s past. Maybe some new information would come forward.” Angeli believes someone knows what happened to Girard.
“There’s someone out there that knows what happened. We’ve either talked to them and they haven’t told us the truth or we haven’t talked to them yet.”
While the initial crime happened in 1988, Detective Sergeant Doug Heslip is now leading the charge to find out who killed Paul Girard. Heslip talked with us about the latest developments in the case and what pointed them toward the two persons of interest.
“Through the course of the investigation I was looking at a particular person. I started investigating this particular person and I got information from an informant with some information they had from the day of the murder. I interviewed that person and it lead to the sketch and I’m trying to identify that person.”
Heslip was careful not to reveal too much information about the person of interest or where the information came from, but says he vetted his source.
“He came forward and I check these people that give me information to see how credible they are. He’s very credible. I know a little bit about him now, why he was up here. I asked him questions and he was able to answer them which leads me to believe he really does know what he was talking about.” Heslip continued, “He remembered these two because the day after the murder, he was with these two particular people and that’s why he remembers them so well.”
Heslip says because of this new information, he has renewed confidence in a resolution to this case.
“I know the players involved, I know the ins and outs. The follow up investigation I have done has led me to believe that I’m looking at a solid suspect.” Detective Heslip continued, “I think I have a pretty good idea where he was and what he was doing, but I haven’t validated that, yet.”
Heslip encourages anyone who may have even the smallest inclination about what happened back in 1988, to let him know.
“No matter what you think, if it’s just a minor thing it might be a big thing to me. One little piece can lead to another piece and another piece and another piece. It’s that snowball effect.” Heslip added, “Don’t be afraid to come forth and talk to me about something that you don’t think is relevant. Because I can take a look at that with the knowledge that I have and it might mean something.”