Battle Creek family hopes to find their mother’s killer after 28 years

Posted at 11:01 PM, Oct 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-10 00:28:53-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Gayle Barrus went out one night in 1988 and never came home to her children. She was found stabbed to death in the woods two weeks after her disappearance in Battle Creek.

It's a case that remains unsolved 28 years later. Her children, after all these years, are begging for closure as to why someone would take their mother's life and ruin theirs.

FOX 17's Cassandra Arensault talked to two of her children about their pain and their suspicions. Melinda Holtz, 41, said she has never been able to move past the fall of 1988. It was just four days before Melinda's birthday when she learned her mother was never coming home. She was 12-years-old at the time.

"It was the worst day of my life to find out that my mother was never coming home," said Melinda Holtz.  "She was getting ready to go to to work just like any other day. I gave my mother a hug and a kiss, and I said 'I love you. I will see you when I get back'."

Melinda went to girl scout camp that weekend and when she came home that Sunday, her mother did not. Her mom was reported missing and it was two weeks later, Melinda and her siblings found out their mother had been murdered, stabbed to death.

James Barrus, one of Gayle's sons, requested his mother's file from the Battle Creek Police Department to review it himself to find some answers.

"[I] guess when you grow up in an environment like that, you know a lot of false stories going around," said James. "A lot of things are made up."

The case of Gayle Barrus is about one of 50 cold cases the Battle Creek Police Department has and they say they don't have the resources to solve. Both Melinda and James have their suspicions on who killed their mother.

"The thought of it being someone close to her, I think that would hurt me more than if it was someone off the street," said Melinda.

But they won't point the finger without the facts, and they're hoping the police can take another look and give them the closure they deserve.

If you have any information, call the Battle Creek Police at 269-781-0911 or Silent Observer at (269) 964-3888