18-year-old woman found dead; teen suspect in custody

Teen arrested in GR Murder

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, MICH. - A 16-year-old boy is being held in juvenile detention in connection with the death of a recent East Kentwood High School graduate, whose body was found Thursday on a trail near Emerald Lake in Grand Rapids Township.

The teen, Savon Eugene Schmus, knew 18-year-old McKenna Elizabeth Hilton, Kent County Undersheriff Michelle Young said Friday. The teens were friends on Facebook.

Schmus was taken into custody early Friday and is being held at the Kent County Juvenile Detention Facility on a five-day hold, which allows juveniles to be detained even though criminal charges have not been filed.

During a brief hearing Friday before a Kent County court referee, Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Vicki Seidl asked that the teen be held for five days while the investigation continues.

Family members of the suspect attended the hearing and wept openly. They declined comment.  

"It was a special adjournment to give us five days,'' Seidl said afterwards. "We are considering charging him with open murder.''

Court referee Marie Kessler ordered that the teen be held without bond as the investigation continues.

The Kent County Prosecutor's Office says charges could be forthcoming next  week.

Kentwood Public Schools officials said Hilton was a graduate from East Kentwood High School.

In a statement, Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff called her an "outstanding person.'' 

"Kentwood Public Schools is a close family built on strong positive relationships,'' he said in the statement. "We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss.''

Counselors were available Friday and will be on hand again Monday  at East Kentwood High School "for students and staff who need to talk,'' the statement said. "McKenna and her family are in our thoughts and prayers.''

Schmus lives with his mother in Kentwood and attended Crossroads Alternative High School, court documents show.

Hilton's body was found near Dean Lake Avenue, just north of Int. 96, less than a mile from a home where the boy's father is living, court documents show. 

Schmus, who recently got his driver's license, has no juvenile record.  

It's not known precisely how long Hilton's body was there, but a teenager who saw the body said it wasn't there Wednesday when he was riding his bicycle.

Anyone with information, please contact Kent County Sheriff Dispatch at (616) 632-6357 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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