Kalamazoo cold case may be coming to an end

Posted at 4:08 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 20:36:37-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- It has been over 30 years since Erik Cross was killed.

Cross was 16 years old when police say he died at the hands of a group of teens he met at a party in June of 1983.  Now, with recent national media coverage, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department said the case has been revitalized and that new information may result in an arrest.

Undersheriff Pali Matyas tells FOX 17 that they are close to cracking the decades-old case.

"We’ve gone from something that was set around 4 o’clock in the afternoon to 15 minutes to midnight," said Matyas when asked how close they were to a breakthough.

Ever since the show Crime Watch Daily highlighted the story Tuesday (FOX 17 at 3:00pm), Matyas said new tips and information have been pouring in.  Investigators believe that Cross was walking home from a party when he ran into a group of teens.  He never made it home. They said foul play involving a rope is was led to Cross' death.

“First we thought it was a hit and run accident,” said Matyas. “But then not too long after that it occurred to us and the evidence was pointing more to a homicide. So this has really been a homicide investigation for most all of the 32 years.”

On the program, Matyas and detective Richard Mattison also revealed who their persons of interests were including a man named Brent Spaulding. He's high on the list. Erik's sister Jackie Mitchell said she was happy to see so many details being made public.

"The suspects themselves have put out the myth that it was some kind of accident, which it was not," said Mitchell. "I think it takes away any kind of empathy that people might have for the criminals. And also makes the public realize that we need to act on this."

Mattison was a patrolman in 1983 and was one of the first people to arrive on the scene the next morning.  He believes the case would have been cracked sooner if the people involved didn't stick to a code of silence.

"I think they know enough that if they admit anything they’re going to face the consequences themselves," explained Mattison.  "So I think that keeps the core group quiet."

Matyas said for years they and the Cross family have been vocal about urging people to step forward. But there's too much fear involved and they're hiding behind what he calls a "brick wall."

"You can come in and talk to us and we will help you navigate that brick wall and get around it from your side and we’ll do what we can," said Matyas. "Or you can dance with the devil. Well it appears all of them have chose to dance with the devil."

Both Matyas and Mattison would like to see the case end soon. It would be closure for them and the family.

"The reason why we want closure is because it's the right thing to do for people who have killed someone to be put in jail," said Mitchell. "It's a trial for us to talk to the media. It's horrible for my mother to have this brought up again. I expect the Kalamazoo County prosecutor to make arrests soon."