MSP hoping public will help solve 1988 cold case of woman’s body found near I-196

Posted at 8:02 PM, Nov 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 10:42:58-05

PAW PAW, Mich. — Michigan State Police held a press conference Monday afternoon, requesting the public’s help in a cold case investigation from over 30 years ago. 

“This story began back in 1988 Oct. 12 when a skeleton was found out in Covert, Michigan by I-196 and County Road 378,” said detective Scott Ernstes with Michigan State Police. “Since that time the Michigan State Police have used all kinds of means to try to identify her.”

However it wasn’t until late 2018 that police were able to identify her when a Kalamazoo business paid for the skeleton to undergo forensic genealogy testing, Ernstes said. 

In November 2019, results showed that the bones belonged to Marcia Kaylynn Bateman of Oklahoma.

“Today what we’re talking to you about is we are looking for any investigative means possible to figure out how Marcia made it from Oklahoma to Michigan,” Ernstes said during a press conference at the Paw Paw Post.

Ernest’s added that Bateman was 5 feet tall, 100 pounds and often visited family in Dallas, Los Angeles and Oklahoma. However, she didn’t have a car. She hitch-hiked or received rides from family members or friends.

Also, police have since discovered that she was a sex worker and used drugs.

“That put her in contact with a lot of people that could potentially have caused something ill to happen to her,” Ernstes said.

Police believe that her body was lying near I-196, near a state park in South Haven and a campground in Covert, for a few months before it was discovered. 

Police are asking anyone with information to please call 844-642-8384 or email

“We are also asking if you have at anytime from 1988, specifically between August and October, if you were out in the area of 196 and County Road 378 by Covert and you saw something suspicious give us call,” Ernstes said. “You never know what small little detail could actually help us solve this.”