THE MURDER OF CHELSEA BRUCK
Chelsea Bruck was 22 when she went missing on October 26, 2014 from a Halloween party, where she had dressed as Poison Ivy. Cheslea was from Frenchtown Township in Michigan.
Chelsea was born on January 28, 1992. Her parents are Matthew and Leannda (Brant) Bruck. She attended St. Patrick Elementary School and Monroe High School.
Chelsea was the youngest of five children – she had three older sisters, Jennifer, Megan and Kassandra, and one brother, Nathaniel.
Chelsea had plans to get a culinary degree at the Monroe Community College. She had been employed by Olga’s Kitchen at the Mall of Monroe for four years. Her favorite pastimes included: watching movies, especially musicals; listening to music, of which Queen was her favorite band; enjoyed playing videogames, including Final Fantasy VIII; and her favorite television show, Doctor Who. She also enjoyed reading and baking, and had a special love for her dog and cats. She was raised very close to her siblings and loved being a part of the “Bruck girls.”
Chelsea was described by friends as outgoing, optimistic and a jokester who was always smiling.
On October 25 and 26, 2014, a huge Halloween party was held at Post and Williams Rds. in Frenchtown Township, 35 miles south of Detroit. It has been said that between 600- 1,000 people attended and Chelsea was one of these. The party started at noon on October 25.
The party was held at the home of Michael Williams. Michael would later say that he did not know Chelsea and had not seen her that night.
Chelsea went to the party with a friend, Rebecca Brinson. She took a bottle of wine with her and had labelled it ‘Poison’. I believe that Chelsea left her cell phone in Rebecca’s car so she did not have it at the time she vanished.
There are varying reports as to how much Chelsea had to drink that night. Some people say she drank alot and others say she hardly had anything.
At one point, Chelsea walked into a pole and injured her nose. Her friend Penny Renee Watkins would later talk about this incident.
Watkins told the court that Bruck was distracted during the evening and injured herself walking. She said Bruck struck the bridge of her nose when she walked into a wooden structure. Watkins said she gave Bruck a few sips of vodka after she hit her nose, and some prior to the injury.
The party started to wind up around 2.30 or 3am on October 26. Several of Chelsea’s friends asked if she wanted a lift home but she turned them all down. She was last seen at around 3am leaving with a man who was unidentified at the time.
When Chelsea did not return home, her parents reported her missing and started searching for her. They distributed more than 1 million leaflets. People wore “#FINDCHELSEABRUCK” bracelets.
Jennifer Niswender was a supporter of Chelsea’s family. She was best friends with Kassie Bruck, Chelsea’s older sister. Jennifer’s twin sister, Julia, was killed in 2012 inside her apartment near the Eastern Michigan University campus. The murderer was never caught. Jennifer noted the coincidence of two incidents transpiring among the same families. “How does that happen?” she asked.
A $17,000 reward was posted for any details about her whereabouts. This amount later increased to a reward of $30,000 after donations poured in from the community. Her parents made a public plea for Chelsea to be returned safely to them.
Chelsea’s favorite color was purple, so a purple ribbon campaign began in the community. For more than five months after Chelsea disappeared, everyone wore purple ribbons to work, school and beyond to remind those around them that she had still not been found. By this time, everyone in the community knew it was unlikely that Chelsea would be found alive.
The big break in the case came in April 2015. On April 5, Chelsea’s Poison Ivy costume was recovered at an abandoned industrial site on Peters Rd. south of Van Horn Rd. in Flat Rock.
On April 24, 2015, the naked remains of a woman were found in the same area at a construction site. This scene was ten miles away from where Chelsea was last seen.
Chelsea was identified using her dental records. She had suffered multiple facial fractures and chipped teeth.
The medical examiner said that she was 99.9% sure that Chelsea did not die from being choked. She also pointed out that intense pressure has to be applied for at least 4 minutes straight to strangle someone to death. Chelsea’s cause of death was ruled as blunt force trauma. Her body had been found under a log that had probably fallen on it and had been there for months, and this made the autopsy harder to conduct. As we mentioned earlier, Chelsea did hurt her nose on the night she vanished but the ME said that her facial fractures could not be attributed to an incident like that.
Male DNA was found on the leggings of Chelsea’s costume. At that time in 2015, no match to the DNA was identified.
On July 21, 2016, the DNA found at Chelsea’s crime scene came up with a match in CODIS. The DNA belonged to a man named Daniel Clay.
12 officers conducted surveillance on Daniel’s home after they made the match. When they knocked on his door, Daniel ran out the back.
Daniel was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He would later be charged with one count of concealment of a body. Daniel’s murder charge would eventually be changed to open murder.
“I don’t want a bond,” he told the judge, who granted his request.
Daniel had a long rap sheet for crimes like burglary, drug possession and unlawful entry.
After he was arrested, he left two voice mails to his ex-girlfriend and mother of his son, Jessica Pridyl, confessing to the murder and saying he had “fucked up big time” and “was going to be gone for a really long time.” He also left his then-girlfriend Kelli Richter a voicemail confessing he had killed Chelsea.
Daniel confessed to the police that he had killed Chelsea, but he maintained that it was an accident. He told police that he had seen her walking along the road after she left the party and he offered her a lift.
“He pulled up next to her, asked if she wanted a ride. She said she did. She got in the vehicle,”Monroe County Sheriff Detective Brian Sroka said . “He stated that they drove down the road a little bit and they proceeded to have sexual relations there.”
Daniel told detectives he and Chelsea started having consensual sex, and that she’d asked him to choke her, and he did with his hands for about 20-30 seconds. She stopped breathing and he tried CPR, he claimed, but he couldn’t revive her. He told detectives he “freaked out,” Detective Sroka said. “He didn’t call the police, so he began to drive around… for 30-45 minutes.
Daniel said he drove to some train tracks about 10 miles from the party’s location, then carried the body from the vehicle into a wooded area until he became tired and hid it under some tree branches.. Then he moved the body farther into the woods before leaving it hidden under more tree branches.
During his interview with police, Daniel said “Can I get a cigarette please? This is about to make me have a panic attack.
“I’m literally feeling myself sweating and about to just start crying and passing out.”
Police said to Daniel “You’re smirking right now.”
He responded: “I did stupid s**t. I’m not smirking right now.”
On August 28, 2016, Daniel underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was found competent to stand trial.
In October 2016, one year after Chelsea was murdered, investigators gave an update on her case. 1,000 tips had been gathered from the public, 800 interviews conducted, 34 search warrants signed, 14 subpoenas served and the assistance of 50 law enforcement agencies.
On November 6, 2016, a court hearing was held regarding the sexual assault of a woman by Daniel Clay in June 2016, a month before he was arrested for Chelsea’s murder.
“He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me off the couch,” the woman said on the stand. “I didn’t know what to do. I’m screaming ‘No!’, ‘Stop!’ He raped me.”
On April 12, 2017, Daniel testified during a hearing that he was under duress when interviewed by detectives. “I was really stressed out,” he said on the witness stand. “I was scared.” Judge White ruled after the Walker Hearing that the recording of Daniel’s interview will be allowed as evidence in his trial. Jury selection started on May 8, 2017.
The trial ran for around 10 days.
The prosecution said three things showed that Chelsea’s death was not an accident: blunt force trauma to her face, blood on the inside of her costume and the torn straps and crotch.
We learned during the trial that Chelsea’s tights had been ripped open along the seams and that the straps of her top had been ripped. This did not match up with Daniel’s story of them having consensual sex.
As mentioned earlier, Chelsea died from blunt force trauma, not asphyxiation as claimed by Daniel.
Daniel told the court that he had cried after Chelsea had died and that he felt guilty about what had happened.
On May 16, 2017, Daniel was found guilty of concealing a death and felony murder. On July 13, he was sentenced as Chelsea’s family looked on, pictures of Chelsea scattered about them on easels as they spoke about how a beautiful life had been cut short and the impact her murder had on those who loved her.
Chelsea’s mother Leandra told the court about how she had forgiven Daniel. She also gave him a Bible. “I thank you for that Bible and I will keep it as long as I’m able to,” Daniel said. “I’m sorry for everything.”
The judge gave his thoughts on Daniel. “I spent 10 days in trial with Mr. Clay and I listened to countless hours of him changing his story every time the detectives questioned him or brought up something new,” Monroe Circuit Judge Daniel S. White said. “It was very clear to me, Mr. Clay, you are a liar, a rapist and a killer.”
The judge sentenced Daniel to life without parole for felony murder. He was given an additional concurrent 5-year sentence for concealing the death of an individual. Daniel appealed the murder conviction and his appeal was denied in January 2019. The latter sentence was discharged in July 2021 as time served.
In regards to the home invasion and sexual assault case that was separate to Chelsea’s murder, Daniel was charged with first-degree home invasion and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. On August 29, 2019, Daniel received an additional sentence of 39 months in prison for that crime. He is serving his sentences at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CINDY SONG
Hyun Jong Song, known as Cindy Song was 21 when she went missing from a Halloween party in the early hours of November 1, 2001 from State College in Pennsylvania As of October 2023, she remains missing.
Cindy was born and raised in South Korea. She moved to the United States in 1995 to live with relatives in Springfield, Virginia near Alexandria. She graduated high school and enrolled in Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), where she majored in integrative arts. She was scheduled to graduate during the spring of 2002.
Cindy was described by friends as having an independent streak and they said she liked to be spontaneous. They also said she was hard-working and responsible. Cindy worked two jobs in between her studies.
On Halloween night in 2001, Cindy dressed up in a rabbit costume which consisted of a pink sleeveless shirt with a rabbit design imprinted on the front, rabbit ears, a white tennis skirt with a cotton bunny tail attached to the back.
Her friend Lisa Kim said “She had bunny ears and a tail that she had bought. It was a very cute outfit. It wasn’t like a sexy outfit. It was a very cute outfit. That was her thing, she was very cute. She liked to look cute.”
Lisa and Cindy, along with another friend Stacy Paik, went to a Halloween party at Player’s Nightclub, in the 100 block of west College Avenue. They ended up leaving the venue at around 2am, and went to a friend’s apartment where they stayed until around 4am.
I believe Stacy was driving that night and she dropped Cindy off outside of her residence in State College Park Apartments in the 300 block of west Clinton Avenue at approximately 4:00 a.m. Cindy had been drinking that evening and was mildly intoxicated when taken to her apartment.
Stacy waved goodbye to Cindy but did not wait to see her enter her apartment. Cindy was never seen again after this.
After nobody could get in touch with Cindy, her friends reported her missing on November 4.
When police went into Cindy’s apartment, they found no sign of any struggle. The door had been locked from the outside, indicating that Cindy had locked it after she left for an unknown reason.
Her friend Stacy said “We found her eyelashes on the counter, because she was wearing fake eyelashes. So we knew that she must have at least come in and taken those off. And her backpack was in her room as well, which she had been carrying earlier. So we knew that she at least came in and dropped that off.”
Cindy’s cell phone was still in her bag that was found in her apartment. Her friends noted that she never went anywhere without it.
Detective Brian Sprinkle worked the case when Cindy went missing. He said her bunny costume was nowhere to be found:
“We know that whenever she left the apartment she was wearing the clothes she had on that night. We also know that her purse, her pocketbook, or whatever she had with her that evening that contained her driver’s license and credit cards were with her, too, because we could not locate those in the apartment.”
We have no body, we have no crime scene, and we have no actual crime. So it’s been very frustrating without any of those pieces of the puzzle. And because of that it seems like she just vanished in thin air.”
Detective Sprinkle also checked Cindy’s phone records and found that there had been no incoming or outgoing calls. He also checked her bank and electronic records.
“There was no activity on her credit cards. And there were no e-mails or any activity on her e-mail accounts that gave us any clue as to her disappearance.”
Cindy’s family traveled to the US from South Korea to assist in the search for her. After they arrived, they cleaned Cindy’s apartment shortly after the police’s initial search. This was a mistake as it is believed any further evidence may have been destroyed during the cleaning.
Police looked into possible reasons for Cindy’s disappearance.
One angle that was looked at was suicide. Cindy had broken up with her boyfriend a few weeks before she vanished, but her friends say that she was getting over the break up and was not depressed. Police also found tickets for an upcoming concert in Cindy’s apartment, as well as a receipt for a new computer that was due to be delivered.
Police also looked into whether her disappearance may have been drug related. Cindy did keep a journal in which she spoke about experimenting with drugs. There is no evidence that she used drugs on the night she vanished though, and police eventually discarded this theory.
A few days after she vanished, a woman reported seeing someone who resembled Cindy, in Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood. This is around 200 miles from Cindy’s apartment.
The witness claimed that she saw a woman matching Cindy’s description inside a vehicle with an unidentified male in the city’s Chinatown district. The witness said that the woman called for help, but the man interrupted her and told the witness to leave.
Investigators said that the witness’s story changed several times and they have been unable to verify her statements. Authorities are continuing to attempt to identify the man allegedly seen by the woman. He is described as having an olive or light brown complexion with medium-length hair.
n 2003, bank robber and serial killer Hugo Selenski was brought in as a suspect in Cindy’s disappearance. This info about that aspect of the case is from True Crime Edition.
An informant told police that Selenski had abducted a woman, along with his accomplice, Michael Kerkowski, and kept her in a walk-in freezer until she died.
Selenski admitted to abducting Cindy but told investigators that Kerkowski was the one who killed her, and kept the bunny ears she was wearing as a souvenir. Selenski told police that he and his accomplice mistook Cindy for a sex worker and kidnapped her. He said that Cindy’s body was buried in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
Police searched Selenski’s home and found multiple bodies buried in his yard, but none of them were Cindy. One of these bodies was Michael Kerkowski and his girlfriend, Tammy Fassett. The discovery of Kerkowski’s body meant that investigators hit a dead end with their search for Cindy.
Hugo was acquitted of the murder charges against him but was convicted of two counts of abuse of a corpse in March 2006.
In 2013, with the assistance of the FBI, authorities obtained a DNA sample from Cindy’s biological parents. Those samples are now part of national databases for missing persons and unidentified remains.
October 31, 2023 marks 22 years since Cindy vanished.
Ferguson Township Police Chief Diane Conrad said “The cases are never closed. If anything new comes along technologically or we get any new tips or any other information that comes to us that we think would tie into that case we would go ahead and look at that. It’s not closed.”
At the time she vanished, Cindy had long black hair and brown eyes. She was last wearing a white tennis skirt, pink t-shirt with a bunny logo, brown knee-high boots, and a red hooded parka. She has pierced ears and a pierced navel.
THE LISKE FAMILY MURDERS
16 year old Devon Griffin arrived back to his home in Martin, Ohio on October 31, 2010. His parents were divorced and he had been spending time at his father’s home. He played some video games when he got a call from his aunt. She was concerned that she had not been able to get in touch with Devon’s mother Susan, and his stepfather Bill. Devon started checking some of the rooms in the house for the rest of his family.
He then thought he had been the victim of a Halloween prank. He found the bodies of his mother Susan Liske, stepfather William ‘Bill’ Liske and brother Derek Griffin in the house.
Susan and Bill were found in their bedroom, and Derek was in his bedroom.
He soon realised that there was no joke and he ran from the house. He called his aunt and she called 911.
“This was the most disturbing murder scene I’d seen over the course of my career,” Mark Mulligan, prosecutor, Ottawa County, told Oxygen “I can still see it to this day.”
Police started piecing together the last movements of the family to try to get an idea of what happened to them. Bill had an adult son, also called William, known as BJ, and they had spent the day before the murders hunting. That night, Susan and Bill had a get together with a neighbor and that ended around midnight.
As some other background into the victims, Susan worked as an office manager for Northwest Ohio Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee. She loved gardening, hunting & camping. Her friends and family described her as having a big heart. They said she was a loving mother, sister, aunt & friend. Bill was a retired Air Force veteran & he loved outdoor activities. He was described as an amazing friend & loving husband & father. Derek had a black belt & adored spending time on Lake Erie on his sailboat. A friend said that she would miss their dumb inside jokes, midnight Wendy’s runs & his ability to always make her day & be there for her.
On Halloween morning, Susan’s sister-in-law Laurie Morse grew concerned when Derek didn’t show up to do some work for her husband. Calls to Derek and Susan went unanswered, so she reached out to Devon.
When he went into Susan and Bill’s bedroom, Devon initially thought maybe they were in bed, sick. Devon approached his mom’s side of the bed, tapping her leg & began speaking to her, in hopes of waking Susan; this is when he noticed that her pillow was saturated in what appeared to be blood.
“It looked like Bill had been shot four or five times,” officials said. “Sue was shot three times with a defensive wound to her hand.” Some reports say that Susan had been sexually assaulted.
Blood spatter covered the walls. Derek is said to have had a blunt force trauma wound to his head. The wound was caused by a hammer.
Investigators had a theory as to why two different murder weapons — a blunt object and a gun — were used. They believed Derek was killed first. By using a hammer instead of a gun, there would have been no gunshots and that would mean Bill and Susan would not have awakened.
No shell casings were found at the scene; whoever had killed the family took the time to pick up any evidence. There were no signs of forced entry or a robbery.
A neighbor told police that she had heard banging, which may have been gunshots at around 6.30am on Halloween morning.
Devon was cleared by police quickly. He told them that when he arrived at the home, Bill’s son BJ was loading something into Bill’s truck. Devon said that BJ seemed surprisingly upbeat and talkative, when he was usually slow and gloomy and generally did not want much to do with Devon.
Police started trying to find BJ. Susan and BJ had a relationship that was known to be strained, and had been physically violent at times.
“BJ and Susan had had some altercations,” according to detectives. “She was accosted by him on several occasions … They did not get along whatsoever.”
BJ was described as a troubled person who was dealing with “some obvious mental illness,” according to Oxygen. He had a history of turning combative and violent, and drinking alcohol could exacerbate these behaviors. BJ’s behavior was so volatile that Susan and Bill said that he was not allowed to live in their house.
“They’ve had a lot of trouble with him with the law. And he’s threatened Suzie before, but there’s been all kinds of trouble,” Lori Morse told CBS affiliate WTOL.
The Blade newspaper in Toledo reported that in 2004, BJ was charged with assault and robbery and accused of hitting Susan with a coffee cup and taking her car keys. A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was filed for him. The state later dropped the charges.
Police tracked down BJ at a family hunting cabin in Carroll County. The cabin and surrounding property were searched for possible murder weapons.
“We knew we’re looking for at least one blunt force object. We believed at that time it was a hammer,” said Deputy Mike Balash, of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. “And then we’re looking for a small caliber gun.”
Police found a rifle and blood in the white truck. A bloody hammer was found stashed in a cupboard in the Liske home.
BJ was charged with murder. Evidence confirmed that DNA from BJ’s father, stepmother, and stepbrother were on his clothing. In a jailhouse phone conversation with BJ, his mother asked him about the crime.
“She said, ‘BJ, how could you? And he goes, ‘I wasn’t in my right mind.’ Then all of a sudden he goes, ‘Mom, I can’t talk about this any more,’” said Det. George Byington, of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.
After that last phone call with his mother, BJ changed his plea to guilty. BJ Liske received three life sentences without parole. BJ apologised for the murders at his sentencing and he blamed mental illness and Satan for his actions.
On March 31, 2015, BJ was found dead in his cell at Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio from a self-inflicted wound.