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16-year-old sentenced to life 30 years ago to reappear in front of Muskegon judge

Amy Black.jpg
Posted at 5:30 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 17:32:13-04

SULLIVAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — David VanBogelen was found dead just before Christmas on a rural Muskegon County road in 1990.

“All this is bringing everything up that we did 30 years ago,” David's widow, Barbra VanBogelen said.

Thirty years ago, Barbra VanBogelen lost a husband, and her two kids lost a father.

Since then, Barbra says she fought for her children. She's proud of the fact that she never had a shutoff notice for a bill when her kids were little. Just 12 and 7 at the time of David's death, Barbra was working part-time at a gas station. Still, she made ends meet.

“She never let us know how bad everything was,” Barbra's son, David, said.

The family is now tasked with another challenge: facing someone who played a part in their loved one's murder.

Family says then 16 and a half-year-old Amy Black bludgeoned VanBogelen by her own admission in December 1990.

“Amy bashed his head in with a Jack Daniel’s bottle full of beer pull tabs,” Barbra said.

Black's then-boyfriend, Jeff Abrahamson, stabbed VanBogelen 9 times, killing him.

The family recounts the story like this:

At a late-night diner in Muskegon Heights, David VanBogelen was lured to Black and Abrahamson's apartment. They saw the cash in his wallet and wanted to rob him.

Barbra says she knows David was drunk at the time, but he didn't deserve what was to follow.

“Like she said. She wanted to know what it felt like to do it, and the cops not know it was you. Her own statement doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference,” Barbra said.

Black and Abrahamson also spent the money they stole from David at a Meijer, Barbra says.

Which is why this family has such a hard time understanding why after all these years, Amy is eligible for resentencing. A 2012 Supreme Court decision states life in prison for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional.

“Would you want to live next to somebody who did that? Who the court says, she’s 16 and a half and her brain didn’t know that it was not right to do that?” Barbra said.

Family of David says Amy Black knew what she did was wrong, and had plenty of time to make different decisions then.

“You learn how to try to live, and put it where it needs to go. You never forget. You put it in your heart or head. You have to go on.” VanBogelen said.

The resentencing hearing is scheduled for August 11.