Authorities in Michigan have identified a person of interest in custody for an unrelated crime as the prime suspect in the disappearance of a mother of eight last year. Heather Mae Kelley, 35, of Portage, was reported missing for the first time in December after she failed to return from where she was scheduled to pick up a friend.
On Friday, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller III told ABC News that Kelley’s disappearance, more than a hundred days after she was last seen, is being investigated as a homicide. Police have looked into “several different possibilities,” according to Fuller, but they’ve narrowed it down to “one person of interest.”
“That person of interest is still in jail on unrelated charges. But right now, we feel that the investigation continues us on a path toward a possible arrest at some point, down the road, of the suspect,” he stated.
Fuller refused to reveal the identify of the suspect, but four days after Kelley went missing, her 37-year-old boyfriend was arrested for breaking parole. He will be held in a federal facility until late April. Fuller urged the public to keep sharing information.
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“We’ve gotten in some pretty good information … The investigation seems that it’s leading in an area that we are convinced is a solid connection,” he said.
Local law enforcement is now offering a $5,000 reward in addition to the $20,000 being given by the FBI for information leading to Kelley’s location. FBI Detroit Field Office Resident Agent Peter Ellis told ABC News, “I believe at this time we’ve had several tips so far in the last few weeks since the reward did go up, and we are posting this reward up on mobile billboards throughout the area,”
The burned remnants of Kelley’s pickup truck were discovered by her cousin in Comstock Township a day after she went missing, and earlier this month, authorities determined that the blood inside the vehicle belonged to Kelley.
“We believe that given the spring weather and how it’s warming up and more people are out traveling along the edges of the road in this area where we have searched fairly well, we believe that there’s still a possibility that she is in that area and that springtime is when somebody is going to come across Ms. Kelley and then contact us,” Fuller told the outlet.
Nicholas Arnold, Portage’s director of public safety, agreed: “This case is a really sad case,” “I’m very confident that we are going to be able to find Ms. Kelley and bring this case to a close.” It was stated that Kelley made her final call to her eight children around 10:20 p.m. on Dec. 10, and they never came back.
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