By Kelli Stopczynski (email@example.com)
5:44 PM EDT, October 18, 2012
NILES, Mich. – There was a sense of relief in a quiet Cass County neighborhood Thursday.
The bright fall colors provided a much different backdrop than those Carberry Road neighbors saw more than 20 months ago when police cars, their K-9 partners, crime scene technicians and a fresh blanket of blowing snow set the scene for a brutal crime.
“It’s about time; it’s two years too long,” said Niles resident Brandie McMichael, who babysits in that neighborhood daily.
But police were still somewhat tight-lipped about an investigation that Thursday revealed John and Carolyn Tarwacki were stabbed, shot and beaten inside their Carberry Road home on February 5, 2010.
That brutality, investigators said, happened at the hands of 28-year-old Keith Lintz, Jr. They also said he thought about it before he deliberately killed the couple.
Lintz was charged with two felony first-degree premeditated murder charges and a felony gun charge Thursday after officers arrested him during a traffic stop near his grandmother’s Niles home.
A judge denied him bond, meaning he has to sit in jail while the case plays out in court.
Still, investigators wouldn’t talk about a motive or say whether the Tarwackis knew Lintz, only that he lived nearby when the murders happened. They also wouldn’t say who Lintz allegedly confessed the crimes to, only that they’re acquaintances.
“I heard it was brutal,” said Bruce Anderson, who lives a few houses down from where the crime happened.
Anderson said the rumors about what happened in that home started flying around the small Niles community almost immediately after a family member found the Tarwackis dead in their home in February 2010.
“With a little town like this, people are so close,” McMichael added. “You pretty much know everyone. But to have someone that's a killer amongst us, it's not safe. And for him to be behind bars, it's good.”
Police said Lintz became a person of interest in the case a week after the murder happened. Even though they thought they had their guy from the beginning, it took more than two-and-a-half years for an arrest in the case. In a move we don’t often see in local murder investigations, Michigan’s Attorney General’s office ultimately filed the charges against Lintz.
"When you know you have your person, you're just going to keep working on it," said Michigan State Police Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen. "So that kind of takes the frustration out of the equation. That's exactly what Detective Sergeant [Fabian] Suarez and Trooper Investigator Bailey did. They just kept working on it. They lived and breathed this case for the last two years and lost a lot of sleep over it. I can tell you that."
“In a case of this complexity, it is always prudent to maximize your resources,” said Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast.
Lintz was soft spoken during his video arraignment in front of a judge Thursday. His dad told WSBT off camera his son “didn’t do it.”
Another family member said, “If we knew he did it, believe me, he would have been turned in a long time ago. This has been a nightmare."
It’s also been a nightmare for the Tarwacki’s friends and family. Investigators invited the family to the police station Wednesday night shortly after the arrest to bring them up to speed.
“This was to bring justice for the Tarwacki family,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.
But so many questions remain.
“I’d like to know why. I’m sure everybody would like to know why,” said Anderson.
“Why did it take so long for them to get him? If he's the one who did it, why did it take so long?” asked McMichael.
For right now, those are answers both Fitz and Pendergast said would come out in court. They would not talk about it at Thursday’s news conference.
Michigan State Police led the investigation, but lots of other agencies helped. They told reporters they followed up on more than 725 tips and interviewed 380 people in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan. One of those interviews was a Tennessee woman police say Lintz assaulted.
Investigators also said he beat a South Bend woman in the face in a similar way he's accused of beating Carolyn Tarwacki. Both alleged incidents happened after the Tarwacki slayings.
Lintz’s next court date is October 31.
Copyright © 2013, WSBT-TV