Amanda Lankey's body was found in the Manistee National Forest in 2004.
Cecil Wallis, Sr.
WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (WZZM) - The Newaygo County Sheriff's Department has made an arrest in connection with the Amanda Lankey murder investigation.
Candace Wallis-Baumgartner was charged with two counts of making false statements during investigative subpoena testimony. Baumgartner is a former White Cloud Police officer and city council member.
Wallis- Baumgartner works as a social service manager for the Department of Human Services. She is suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Amanda Lankey was murdered in 2004. Her mother, Victoria Foster, tells WZZM 13 that Baumgartner was among several people who were questioned recently in the murder case. According to Foster, police determined Baumgartner lied under oath.
Amanda's sister, Wanda Lankey-Foster says, "this might be it. We got to stay positive and keeping hoping, praying that this is what we need and the truth is going to come out. You know, after eight years, it's what we need. Every little thing that comes out is a step closer to justice and closure for us."
Foster says Baumgartner is the sister of Cecil Wallis Sr., who was a person of interest in the Lankey murder before he committed suicide in November 2011. Before his death, Wallis was arrested and charged on allegations he has sexually assaulted two teenage girls.
Amanda Lankey was 13 years in June 2004 when she disappeared from Wallis' White Cloud-area home, where she had been spending the night with his step-daughter. Mushroom hunters found Lankey's body weeks later in a wooded area of Big Prairie Township.
The perjury charges against Wallis-Baumgartner carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, the same penalty for the crime that was being investigated. The crime being investigated was the 2004 homicide of Amanda Lankey. Perjury during investigative subpoena charges were also authorized against another individual, but that individual has not been arrested yet.
"By investigating these charges, law enforcement is making the statement that they are willing to hold fellow officers accountable, and that they are committed to identifying Amanda Lankey's killer," said Newaygo County Prosecutor Robert Springstead.
Springstead would not rule out the possibility that more civilian witnesses could be charged with giving false testimony.