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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Body found in cemetery identified as sex offender

6-14-2012 Michigan:

We now know the identity of a man found dead Thursday morning in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Around 7:15 a.m. a person walking along a path through the cemetery found the body near the intersection of Eastern and Hall Street SE.

Tracing a license plate of a vehicle near the body, WZZM 13 has learned the man is Robert Shields, 67. He was a registered sex offender living in Omega Life Alternatives, a halfway house on Eastern Avenue about half a mile north of the cemetery.

Records show Shields was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in Newaygo County in 1981. In 1999, Shields was convicted in Kent County of one count of second-degree sex assault involving a victim younger than 13. He was released from jail in January 2011.

Police say Shields was lying next to a grave stone and they also found a van registered in his name near his body. The scene was marked off with crime tape Thursday morning and investigators used several cones marking evidence of some sort.

Authorities have yet to confirm the body's identity to the media or release the circumstances surrounding his death. They tell WZZM 13 the death is "suspicious." ..Source.. by Chris Zoladz, Multi-Media Producer, WZZM 13


Police: Man found dead in Oak Hill Cemetery died of multiple stab wounds

Robert Louis Shields, the man found dead this morning in Oak Hill Cemetery, died of multiple stab wounds and police are investigating the case as a homicide.

Shields, 67, was found by a walker in the cemetery about 7:15 a.m. and police found his van parked on the south side of the grounds this morning.

In a release issued late today, police named Shields as the victim. But he was identified earlier in the day as the victim by officials at Omega Life Alternatives, a halfway house at 722 Eastern Avenue SE where Shields had lived for a little more than a month.

Shields is a registered sex offender and was released from prison in January 2011 after spending several years behind bars for a 1999 sex assault against a 7-year-old.

Oak Hill Cemetery, at Eastern Avenue SE and Hall Street, is not far from the halfway house.

Eric Price, a manager at Omega Life Alternatives, said he believed Shields had been out with his girlfriend Wednesday evening.

He was supposed to return for an 11 p.m. curfew, but did not.

Price was told that Shields' girlfriend was in the hospital, but it was unclear why.

Police released no other details about who may have stabbed Shields or how the van ended up in the cemetery. ..Source.. by John Tunison


Body found in cemetery identified as sex offender

We now know the identity of a man found dead Thursday morning in Oak Hill Cemetery.

The Executive Director of Omega Life Alternatives says the victim is 67-year old Robert Shields. A resident at the transitional home. "Last night was the first night he broke curfew, we knew something was wrong," says Price. He says Shields moved-in a month ago. "We mentor guys who have been in trouble with the law or they don't have family or may have made mistakes in general."

Sheilds had been in prison off and on for criminal sexual conduct since 1981. He was released early last year and had been working as a maintenance man before he moved to Omega Life. "And everything he put his hand to, he saw that needed fixed-up, he did it, so he was kind and generous."

Just after 7am someone walking at Oakhill Cemetery discovered shields body near a grave. Grand Rapids police taped off a large portion of the cemetery and marked potential evidence with cones.

Captain Eric Payne says, "Well, just because of the size of the cemetery, we want to make sure we're not missing anything. it's a large area to process."

Because of the injuries to shields body, police are investigating the death as a suspicious death. At Omega Life, Price says although he didn't know Shields very long, it's sad to hear. "No matter what they've done in the past, you hate seeing tragedy like that." ..Source.. by Chris Zoladz


Girlfriend held in GR cemetery stabbing


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A woman is being held in the stabbing of a 67-year-old man found dead early Thursday morning by a jogger along a path through Grand Rapids' Oakhill Cemetery.

On Thursday evening, Grand Rapids police announced they had ruled the death of Robert Louis Shields a homicide.

Authorities said he was stabbed multiple times.

Christina Miller is being held in the Kent County Jail in connection with the case, 24 Hour News 8 confirmed.

Jail records indicate Miller was charged on two counts of obstructing police, one count of providing false information, and one count is failure to obey instructions on Friday.

No arraignment has been set yet.

Sheilds's brother told 24 Hour News 8 earlier Thursday that Miller was Shields's girlfriend. He also said she is mentally unstable.

"He may have had some enemies I didn't know about," older brother Bill Shields told 24 Hour News 8 before becoming aware of the arrest. "It's hard to say because I don't know."

Bill Shields said he didn't know why his brother was in the cemetery. He said no one in their family is buried there.

"It hurts me, but what can I say or do?" he said. "It's not going to change the fact. He's dead. He's gone. All we can do is live with his memories. And I believe my brother's had a very rough life."

Shields had an extensive criminal record, including convictions for felonies and criminal sexual conduct. He was listed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

Shields lived for six months at Omega Life Alternatives in Grand Rapids. The pastor there, Eric Price, said Shields made his mark in more ways than one. He mowed the lawn and fixed things around the house.

"He came here with a willing heart, not just to hold a bed for him, but he came with a willing heart to really work and to serve. ... Whatever he can to help out things around here," said Price. "Robert tried to live a good life and I'm sorry that this had to happen."

Like Price, Bill Shields remembered his brother as a hard worker.

"He was a hard-working boy, I'll tell you that. He worked all the time," said Bill Shields. "I don't think he's hardly ever missed a day of work."

But Price he said he was aware there was another side to Shields.

"It came as a shock, but the company he was keeping, I've seen it happen before," said Price.

Price said he thinks Shields's friends may have been involved in drugs and perhaps that had something to do with his suspicious end, which he called a tragedy.

"He definitely didn't deserve this tragedy upon this life, no matter what he's done," Price said. "I wouldn't want anybody to suffer that way."

About a dozen officers and a K-9 unit were sent to the cemetery near Hall Street and Eastern Avenue around 7:15 a.m. They taped off a large section of the property and placed several evidence markers throughout the area as they searched for clues.

Police continue to figure out how Shields died and why he ended in the cemetery.

"It's a very large area. We want to be thorough and make sure we check the entire area to see if there's any evidence out there if in fact it is foul play," Grand Rapids Police Capt. Eric Payne told 24 Hour News 8 before the announcement that the death was homicide.

"It doesn't happen every day to have a body discovered in a cemetery, but we're processing it and we'll wait and see on the determination of the medical examiner whether or not it's foul play," he added at the time.

Police towed a van from the scene that family members confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 belonged to Shields. ..Source.. by Amanda Jarrett and Dani Carlson

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