More than two years after police say Brady E. Oestrike killed two people before turning a gun on himself, the horror of that day remains vivid for officers involved.
“Those are things that stay with all of us,’’ Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody said Thursday. “You don’t wipe those out of your memory.’’
Newly released documents, videos and photos of the July, 2014 crime spree show just how horrific it was.
Inventory taken from Oestrike’s home on Taft Avenue south of Porter Street SW include numerous guns, ammunition, knives, swords, handcuffs, a cattle prod and bloody clothes, court records show.
“The one thing that struck me on that house was the amount of weapons he had in there and how they were placed,’’ Carmody said.
Police say Oestrike killed 25-year-old Charles Oppenneer at Wyoming’s Gezon Park and cut off his head. Oppenneer had gone there with his girlfriend, 18-year-old Brooke Slocum on July 12, 2014. The trio arranged an online meeting for sex, police said.
Slocum was then forced back to Oestrike’s home and held captive for five days before she was strangled. Her body was found in the trunk of Oestrike’s car after it crashed on Burton Street over U.S. 131. Oestrike was found dead in the front seat from a self-inflicted gunshot.
Shortly before his July 17, 2014 death, Oestrike fled the house as Wyoming police prepared to search it. Police identified him as a suspect in Oppenneer’s death after a computer forensic expert linked him to messages involving Oppenneer and Slocum.
Wyoming police spent three days sifting through evidence in Oestrike’s home. It wasn’t easy, Carmody said.
“My concern certainly was with my staff,’’ he said. “They lived down there for three days and the impact of what they saw . . .oviously very bizarre.’’
They found evidence that Slocum was held by a chain around her neck; the chain was bolted to a bathroom floor. Her arms were held by a pulley system attached to the ceiling. For five days she was sexually assaulted and tortured, police said. While this was going on, police found Oppenneer’s 1995 Saab at Gezon Park. It did not raise red flags at first.
Three days later, after determining that Oppenneer had not shown up at work or been in contact with family, police searched the park. Oppenneer’s headless body was found in weeds and covered with logs.
After learning that Oppenneer and Slocum were dating, police searched cell phone and computer records. They learned that Slocum and Oppenneer were posting ads on Craigslist seeking sex for cash. A state police trooper assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found messages from a person identifying himself as “Hard Mike.’’
“They jumped on this thing, they made it a priority,’’ Carmody said. “That was critical to this case.’’
It led them to Oestrike.
As police prepared to search his home, Oestrike left. Police followed, leading to a brief pursuit before his vehicle crashed on the Burton Street overpass to U.S. 131. Camody described the experience of looking into the trunk as “horrific.’’
“Certainly most disturbing was seeing that young girl’s body after they had removed the suitcase from the trunk of the car,’’ he said. “And then knowing that with her was the eight-month-old baby that really didn’t have a choice in the situation.’’
Wyoming Police sent information about the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if the circumstances here matched cases elsewhere. That was done, in part, because of a large map of the United States found in Oestrike’s home; several locations were marked with push pins.
“This was so bizarre, and we knew that he travelled,’’ Carmody said. “So we wanted to make sure we covered all of our bases to see if we had someone that had travelled all around the country committing similar acts.’’
No evidence was found to indicate Oestrike’s criminal behavior reached beyond West Michigan, Carmody said.
In nearly 28 months that have passed since the murders, police have been unable to determine what happened to Oppenneer’s head. But it’s not from a lack of effort.
“We looked in Dumpsters within a mile radius of that place,’’ Carmody said. “Our detectives jumped right into those places and tore through the garbage hoping they would be able to find something. We walked those fields, we brought in officers and used a drone because it was very heavily overgrown. We brought in cadaver dogs from across the state.
“And unfortunately that secret died with Brady Oestrike.’’