Funeral for Murdered Teen April Millsap Held as Police Search for Killer
(DETROIT) — About 100 people Friday attended the funeral for April Millsap, the teenage girl murdered in Michigan on July 24 while walking her dog.
The funeral took place at around the same time that a father and son were arraigned for growing marijuana inside a house that the Michigan State Police and FBI searched as part of the ongoing investigation into Millsap’s murder, according to the FBI and Michigan State Police.
James Bernard VanCallis, a 66-year-old registered sex offender, and his 32-year-old son, James Donald VanCallis, both had bail set at $75,000, according to state police.
Police searched the VanCallis home on Wednesday as part of the murder investigation but Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Shaw made it clear that the arrests were separate from the homicide investigation. No arrests have been made in connection to Millsap’s murder.
The younger VanCallis began to cry during the arraignment and his father pleaded to be allowed to go home on account of his pets.
“I love my dogs. I just wanna go home to my dogs. I didn’t do nothing,” VanCallis Sr said according to WXYZ.
VanCallis Jr. has a medical marijuana license and is allowed to have 36 plants in his home, but during the search of Goodell, Michigan house, investigators found 52 plants inside, according to WXYZ.
Both men have criminal records: VanCallis Jr. was convicted of breaking and entering in 2005 and failing to pay child support. His father is a tier-3 registered sex offender and was convicted on two counts of criminal sexual misconduct, both in 1995. The second-degree charge related to a person under the age of 13 and the fourth-degree charge involved a victim between the ages of 13 and 16 years old, according to the Michigan sex offender registry.
Neither of the men have a lawyer, WXYZ reported, so the judge entered a not guilty pleas for both.
The Michigan State Police and the FBI are continuing to search for leads in Millsap’s murder. The girl, who was walking her dog on a hiking path, was killed and left in a drainage ditch, where joggers found her body. The cause of death has not been revealed.
Police stopped all traffic going in and out of Millsap’s hometown of Armadad for three hours on Thursday evening in a hunt for leads. Shaw explained that they chose that time because it is the exact time frame when the 14-year-old was killed a week earlier.
“Humans are creatures of habit so we were hoping to speak to some of the same people who had been there when April disappeared,” Shaw told ABC.
He said that the efforts paid off and investigators got “five to eight good tips that we didn’t have before from people who weren’t sure if they should call us or not.”
WXYZ reported that police were seen searching and dredging Omo Lake on Friday, which is near the area where the victim’s phone was found.
Police already issued search warrants for phone records- though they would not specify which phone records- as part of the investigation.
Early reports about Millsap’s murder included claims from a relative that she had texted her boyfriend on July 24 saying “OMG. … I think I’m being kidnapped.” But Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Shaw told ABC News that the message was phrased differently and may not have come from April herself.
Police still have no formal suspects in the case.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio