Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 28, 2013

Police chase leads, but no suspects in hit-and-run

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Police still have no strong suspects in a three-week-old investigation into the hit-and-run death of a Traverse City bicyclist, but have developed -- and, in at least one case, moved beyond -- more than one "person of interest."

Authorities thus far logged more than 500 tips generated by the July 5 death of Kelly Ann Boyce, 29, who was hit by a driver in the 600 block of Washington Street as she pedaled home. She was dragged hundreds of feet to a Railroad Street alley and died a short time later at Munson Medical Center.

Traverse City Police Sgt. Jim Bussell said some tips spurred "active leads."

"This by no means is closed and is still a very active investigation," he said. "And we're still looking for more information."

Bussell said detectives have more than one "person of interest" in mind, but no definite suspects. No one is in custody, he said.

City Police Capt. Mike Ayling said investigators identified a Traverse City resident as a person of interest in the investigation's early days, but don't have enough evidence to make a case.

He said the man, who was held on an unrelated charge, did not have his own vehicle, but "had access to" a vehicle similar to the dark pickup truck or SUV witnesses said struck Boyce.

"We felt we had a person that was a better suspect than anyone else," he said. "Since we interviewed him, we don't believe he's of any more interest that anybody else at this point."

Ayling said a search warrant on a vehicle found no evidence that could be tied to Boyce's death.

Police also found no evidence to link Boyce's death to a dark SUV that was the subject of an Internet rumor. Local bicyclists circulated a picture of the vehicle on Facebook after a road incident. Bussell said the driver contacted police, who inspected the vehicle and do not believe it was involved with the Boyce hit-and-run.

"The driver was obviously very concerned that this appeared to have went viral on Facebook," he said. "The actual bicyclists had called the police department and were supposed to come into the police department to file a report and never did."

Bussell said rumors about the case can complicate the investigation.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said his office provided legal advice to detectives during the investigation. He didn't specify how many search warrants have been authorized.

Police found little physical evidence at the scene, other than a long road mark that extended from the collision site to the alley. Charles Funk is a senior consultant with Armstrong Forensic Engineers, a private firm with a location in Detroit that conducts crash investigations and accident reconstructions.

He said the longer the investigation, the more likely it is that physical evidence could disappear.

"The longer that it goes where the vehicle is not found, the more time the person has to get the vehicle repaired or altered to mask anything that happened," he said.

Bussell said detectives speculated about numerous theories: intentional attack, drunken driving accident, Traverse area resident, or Cherry Festival visitor -- but still don't know where the trail ends.

"We have tips that support any and all of those theories," he said.

There is a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the driver. Witnesses described a dark pickup or SUV, or a silver SUV, that drove away at about 1:50 a.m. Members of the public with information on the case can call detectives at 231-995-5152 or call the anonymous tips line at 231-947-8477.