Baldwin couple murdered in Missouri vacation home

12:40 AM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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  • Seasonal residents Paul and Margaret Brooks were found dead at 1722 Trace Hollow Road in Lampe. Two teenagers are in custody. Valerie Mosley/News-Leader
  • Margaret Susan and Paul Brian Brooks. / Submitted to the News-Leader

UPDATE: (News-Leader) - After retirement, Paul Brian Brooks, 70, and Margaret Susan Brooks, 69, spent winters at their son Patrick's lake house off Table Rock, escaping Michigan's cold.

They had three sons, three daughters-in-law and nine grandchildren. In July, they planned to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

"Susan and Brian spent their retirement years watching each of their nine grandchildren grow, filling their days with more memories than any one person could possibly remember," a statement from the family said.

The couple, who the family referred to by their middle names, retired to what's described as a 'modest' lake home in rural Baldwin, Mich., after years of work, he in the Detroit auto industry and she as a homemaker.

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LAMPE, Mo. (News-Leader & WZZM) - Two juveniles suspected of killing an elderly West Michigan couple Thursday had run away from a local at-risk boys ranch earlier this week, officials have confirmed.

"The boys had run away, and we had reported that to the proper authorities," said Richard Bottorf, chairman of Lives Under Construction Ranch.

The two are suspected of killing Paul and Margaret Brooks in a Table Rock Lake home Thursday night. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said police had no indication from the report that the boys were dangerous.

Stone County deputies received a call from a resident of Trace Hollow Road at 5:43 p.m. Thursday. The man reported that he was holding two young men at gunpoint after confronting them for suspicious behavior.

The man continued to hold the juveniles, ages 15 and 16, at gunpoint for 14 minutes until the first sheriff's deputy arrived at 1722 Trace Hollow Road. The suspects are in custody but are not being held in Stone County, juvenile officer Keith Parris said. There is no juvenile facility in Stone County.

Paul Brooks, 70 and Margaret Brooks, 69, of Baldwin, Mich., were found dead inside the home. The bodies have been sent to Columbia for autopsies, after which the sheriff hopes to know more about how they died.

"Apparent signs of foul play prompted further investigation," Rader said.

The two juveniles were first spotted taking items from the house next door, according to a neighbor. Jack Martin, who owns the house next door to the victims, a rental which had been vacant for several months, received a phone message from Rick Balsley.
Balsley lives across the street from where the victims lived.
Balsley's first message was that the youths were in a blue vehicle with no front license plate. The second phone message he left was shorter. He told Martin to call him as quickly as possible and that it was "important."

Martin did not listen to the voice messages until after returning from work at 9 p.m. He then called Balsley, who told him that the Brookses were dead.

"I just could not believe it," Martin said.

Balsley would not talk to a News-Leader reporter Friday afternoon. Martin said he did not know if Balsley was the person who held the juveniles at gunpoint until police arrived. Martin lives near his rental house on Trace Hollow Road. He said Friday that the house was, in fact, burglarized and that there were two burn marks on the bedroom carpet.

"It looked like someone had burned hard plastic," he said, adding that it did not appear as if anyone had been living in the house without his knowledge.

Martin said the residents of the dozen or so houses on Trace Hollow Road are a mix of year-long and seasonal residents.
The Brookses were seasonal residents, according to a neighbor who declined to give his name. They typically arrived around Thanksgiving and returned to Michigan in April or May.

Family member Tina Brooks confirmed the couple had lived in the Baldwin area, north of Grand Rapids, for the past several years.

"They were great people," the neighbor said. "They were both in poor health. He had had surgery on his foot and had lost a toe. She had had knee surgery."

The Stone County Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control are continuing an investigation into the deaths.  At a press conference Friday morning, the sheriff praised the neighbor who held the suspects.

"I'm very proud of him," said Rader.

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