Fatal stabbing suspect on the loose; butcher knife found near his abandoned SUV

Posted at 7:01 PM, Apr 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-27 19:01:06-04

CASCO TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- While investigators continue to search for Monty Menefee, the sole suspect in his mother's stabbing death, a family in Casco Township  tells FOX 17 that they found a butcher knife near Menefee's abandoned SUV.

Sara Hallgren told FOX 17 News that her father was walking near the woods at the back of their home, located near 111 Avenue and 62nd Street, when he noticed something strange.

"My dad found a knife down there," Hallgren said.

He walked a bit farther and noticed a GMC Yukon stuck in a swamp.  Hallgren said it's not unusual to find random things in the woods near their home, but it is odd that a butcher knife would be there -- and near a stabbing suspect's vehicle.

However, authorities have not said that the knife is considered evidence in their investigation.

On April 26, multiple law enforcement agencies searched the area for Menefee using tracking dogs and a Michigan State Police helicopter.

Ernest Weber, who owns the land where the abandoned vehicle was found, was with Hallgren's father when it was discovered. He said that at first they thought it was left by a hunter, but as they got closer to it, something didn't seem right. "The thing was still running, and we looked inside, and it was half-burned up inside, like somebody tried setting it on fire," Weber said. "I said, 'Well, don’t touch anything. We’ll call police.' There was no license plate, either."

Investigators said they've been looking for Menefee since Friday, April 24, when Menefee's mother, Lavonne Monta, 79, was found stabbed to death inside an old canning factory in the 500 block of Washington Street in Coloma Township. The Coloma Police Department said the family was living there.

Lt. Jason Roe said they were first called to the house on a suicide. They said Menefee's wife found a note, then went upstairs, where she found her mother-in-law's body.

Lt. Roe didn't want to comment on if he thought the note was written by Menefee.

Shortly after ditching the SUV on Sunday, Menefee drove back to Coloma Township in a stolen pickup, investigators said. He was last seen on surveillance footage at the Wesco Gas station in Coloma at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday.

Police describe the truck as a maroon two-door 2004, Chevy 2500 pickup.  It has a silver diamond-plate tool box, and a 100 gallon, black fuel tank in the bed.

Anyone who hears from Menefee or knows where he might be is asked to call 911.