WALKER, Mich. -- A death initially ruled natural, then suspicious, is now being called a homicide, as the U.S. Marshals join the search for the man they’re calling a person of interest.
Casey Wybenga, 81, was found dead Tuesday at America’s Best Inn Motel in Walker.
FOX 17’s Ann Marie LaFlamme sat down with Wybenga's family for an exclusive interview, where they said they know who killed their loved one.
Matthew Brunn, 29, is a parole absconder, and Walker Police say he's now a person of interest in Wybenga's death. Sources say Brunn cut his tether the day before Wybenga's body was found.
Sources tell FOX 17 Brunn was spotted Friday morning in metro Detroit at a relatives house in Wybenga's vehicle. Authorities say he should be considered dangerous.
“In my opinion, Matthew is taking advantage of the situation,” said David Newton, a friend of Wybenga's.
Wybenga’s niece Rosemarie Gallaspy says she knows Brunn is responsible for Wybenga’s death.
“(Wybenga) was a good guy. He didn’t deserve this, and I know that guy killed him. I just know it in my heart he did,” she said about Brunn.
Brunn absconded the day before Wybenga’s body was found.
He's believed to be driving Wybenga’s car -- a 2005 Ford station wagon/SUV crossover with Michigan plate CEV8669.
Brunn has a long criminal history dating back to 2004, including armed robbery and vehicle theft.
“Uncle Casey told me that he was afraid he (Brunn) was going to kill him or do something bad to him,” Gallaspy said.
The family says Wybenga’s credit card was used after his death and that Brunn has been seen in Wybenga’s vehicle.
Family says Wybenga knew Brunn through his restaurant, set up in the Heartside district to help feed the needy.
“He always fed people even if he didn’t have any money,” great niece Shelia Shockency said. “If you went in there hungry, you didn’t walk away hungry.”
Brunn is 5’11” and 190 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He has a tattoo on a finger on his left hand that says “lil b” and a lower lips scar.
If you have any information on Brunn's whereabouts, call Silent Observer at 616 774-3245 or Walker Police at (616) 453-5441.