KALAMAZOO COUNTY - Christine Paddock was a mother who was beaten, strangled, and dumped in the woods of southern Kalamazoo County more than 11 years ago. Now, with fresh tips and leads coming few and far between, authorities are sharing new information in their murder investigation.
The 39-year-old mother's body was found wrapped and hidden in a wooded area by water works employees in April 2004. Autopsy results would later reveal her body had been there for months, and that she was likely killed in another location and moved to a spot where the killer hoped she wouldn't be found.
Det. Sergeant Donald McGehee of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office was in this fourth year of detective work with the department when he got the call to investigate Paddock's murder. "She had multiple blunt force trauma to her body, she had broken ribs," said McGehee. "She she had been strangled, and a plastic bag had been placed over her head, so she was also asphyxiated."
McGehee says the investigation hit multiple road blocks from the very beginning, with the delay between the time of death and discovery of the body making it difficult to try to find anyone who may have seen something that would help find Paddock's killer.
"It (her body) had been seen by the farmers who worked in the field during harvest in the fall of 2003," said McGehee. "However, because it was a farm field and he was quite used to people dumping garbage and refuse," the bundle set on the edge of the field for seven months.
Paddock was first reported missing in September 2013, seven months prior to her body being found.
"It extends the time the bad guy has to get away, and it also allows for the destruction of evidence because the body is exposed to the elements for that extended period of time," said McGehee.
A forensic anthropologist was brought in after the body was found to help make an identification, which gave McGehee one of his first leads in the case.
"She had a surgical device inserted into her neck," said McGehee. "That device had a serial number on it, so based upon that, we were able to track that back to a medical supply company."
The results showed Paddock was the owner of the device, one of many dead ends for detectives during the course of this ongoing investigation.
"One of the problems was tht she was a known prostitute," said McGehee. "As a result of that, her being picked up by a strange vehicle at an odd hour of the day or night would not have been unusual."
McGehee says Paddock's life wasn't always so grim.
"She had been married and moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband. They had two children, and for whatever reason she ended up coming back to Michigan," said McGehee. "and it was around that same time she started experiencing some issues in her life and got drug addicted, which we believe probably led to the prostitution."
McGehee says they haven't been able to make contact with Paddock's estranged husband. At one point in the last 11 years, a string of killings involving prostitutes in the area gave detectives reason to look into any possible connection, but none were found.
"This person still deserves a life," said McGehee. "They have family, she had children, there are still people out there that care about her out there. Nobody deserves to die this way."
These are reasons McGehee and his co-workers continue to review the stacks of paper in the case file and preserve the evidence that will be needed to eventually bring Paddock's killer to justice.
"It's disturbing. This may be an isolated incident, it may have been the only crime this person perpetuated, but he still killed somebody," said McGehee. "Or this could be part of a bigger picture. And the only way we will know that is to try and track down whoever it was that killed her."
Paddock's body was found in a wooded are near E. V Avenue and Portage Road. McGehee speculates the area is too close to the Vicksburg community for someone not to have seen or to know something, which could help break this case wide open.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office or Silent Observer at 269-343-2100.