21 Solved in '21: Day 5: Mary Prieur
Mary Prieur moved to Lennon, MI from Flint, with her husband Leonard in order to get away from the skyrocketing violence and crime rates.
Mary was described as a fixture of the small neighborhood. She attended church often, and would frequent the local diner for both lunch and dinner most days. Mary Prieur was 88-years-old when she was brutally murdered on February 27, 1997.
Mary was a widow, and was discovered to be missing by her brother-in-law. He’d promised Leonard he would watch after her, so in an effort to do that, he stopped by her home around noon. He discovered her door open, and her dog inside. He called the police, then checked all of her usual spots. Mary Prieur was nowhere to be found.
Approximately 2 hours later, Mary Prieur’s body was discovered in a swampy wooded area near a creek within 200 yards of her home. Drag marks at the scene indicated that her killer had dragged her all the way there. DNA was obtained from a person of interest in the case, which then sat in evidence for 24 years.
In 2002, junior detective Swanson joined the case. On October 15, 2004, Swanson interviewed the person of interest, who was now a suspect. When the suspect got up to leave the interrogation, Swanson recalled telling him, “The next time I see [you], you will be in shackles, and you will be charged with murder.”
Advances in DNA technology made those words come true. Forensic investigators at a Michigan State Police Crime Lab were able to determine their original suspect was a match for the DNA found on Mary Prieur. Mary’s alleged killer was in 11th grade at the time of the murder, and lived nearby. The motive in this case appears to have been sexual.
On November 11, 2021, a press conference was held, announcing the arrest of the believed killer on charges of Felony Murder, First-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, and Kidnapping. This case is currently awaiting trial.
Mary was a retired candy maker who was well known in her community. She was described by one neighbor as “the sweetest, kindest lady.” Her niece remembers her as “sweet and wacky and generous and kind.”