MI MI - Terry Sutter, 15, Frankfort, 2 Sept 1973

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by Nina Michigan, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    Terry Sutter Cold Case

    There are some jurisdictional issues with this case. He was found on a beach in Frankfort, which is in Benzie County Michigan. (we aren't too far from Traverse City)

    15 year old Terry Sutter was supposed to go to the movies in town with friends, then spend the night at his grandmother's house. He never arrived. When his mother called the grandmother's house in the morning, she learned that he never arrived.

    Around noon on 9/2/73 a doctor at his vacation cottage looked out and spotted a body on the beach. He called the authorities who determined that he was dead and notified his family. It was assumed that Terry had drown, but his lungs were not full of water, they were full of SAND.

    Over the years Terry's headstone was vandalized, flowers torn away from his grave. His burial place is unmarked, the only way to leave his grave undisturbed.

    This case reminds me a great deal of the murder of Erik Cross about a decade later also in west Michigan. I don't think they are related, but the circumstances look similar.

    If you have a Newspapers.com subscription you can read more.

    The Benzie county library has a searchable digital archive you can review on their website.
     
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  2. Whirring

    Whirring New Member

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    I wonder what the authorities were looking for when they searched the beach? Did they look for a hole/would be grave? Could Terry have sustained the sprained ankle whilst attempting to get out of the hole/would be grave?

    It doesn't feel as though what happened to Terry was a punishment to his family. It seems very personal.

    Is there a definite or at least widely assumed link between Terry's death and the vandalism of his grave? If they are linked it suggests a really deep rooted hatred of Terry that wasn't extinguished by killing him. Alternatively, the person who tried to bury Terry alive (if that's what happened) may have been filled with rage that Terry manage to extricate himself from the beach grave.

    I'm not a psychiatrist/psychologist but it's almost as though someone thought Terry didn't deserve a marked grave. Maybe he didn't deserve a marked grave alongside 'decent/good people'? Perhaps he didn't deserve a Christian burial? If that's the case, the murderer seems to have thought Terry was responsible for something really terrible. Something unforgivable. That doesn't necessarily mean Terry did do anything wrong, just that it seems that someone had the most incredible anger towards him.

    It's impossible to comment more specifically as I can't find much information.

    But I am thinking of Terry and his family who have suffered horrendously for over forty years. I hope that 2018 will be when the truth finally comes to light.
     
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  3. Moshimo

    Moshimo New Member

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    Based on information from the first link, it sounds more like he was tortured with a sand blaster than buried alive. If that was the case he would have had to have been physically subdued and restrained, possible explanation for the sprained ankle.
    I know that now sand blasters use a variety of medium, often synthetic material, for blasting. I wonder if actual sand was used for sand blasting back in the day of Mr. Sister's death and if the sand associated with his death is a match for sand from the beach he was discovered on?
     
  4. Whirring

    Whirring New Member

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    Good grief. I hadn't understood that part properly. It's a good point raised about the sand in his lungs and the sand on the beach.
     
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  5. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    He had an open casket at the funeral, I think it's likely that his face was pressed into the sand (on the shores of Lake Michigan) and he suffocated, inhaling sand that filled his lungs.
     
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  6. Moshimo

    Moshimo New Member

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    Go read the information in the first link about the condition of his lungs.
     
  7. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    Yes, I've read it. I posted it. I believe he inhaled the sand, his face was bruised, but intact enough that they were able to have an open casket.
     
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  8. Moshimo

    Moshimo New Member

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    Then how do you account for the described lung damage? I've been hit briefly with a sand blaster before. I'm sure usage varies widely but in my case, it did'nt leave a mark. Damage accumulated over time varies according to a wide range of factors.
     
  9. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    I think that if they shoved a sandblaster in his mouth it would have destroyed all the soft tissue in his mouth, throat and neck.

    Maybe it's time to FOIA the coroner's report?
     
  10. dulcinea

    dulcinea Well-Known Member

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    If they again marked his grave and then publicized it, I would be curious to see who showed up to pay respects and if his grave would again be vandalized. If they put the grave under surveillance they might catch a lead.

    In the article I do not recall any mention of sand in his stomach, just his lungs. I'm wondering if this suggests he inhaled the sand (nasally) versus ingesting the sand (orally). Sand is incredibly abrasive (hence sandpaper!). Do they think that ingesting sand alone would cause that type of damage to his lungs or do they think something else happened?

    Do we know if he made it to the movie? It says his mother and sisters dropped him off, but was there any mention of the friends he was supposedly meeting up with? I don't recall that information. It's possible he was dropped off but then went somewhere else after his family departed.

    I'm wondering if someone got high, had a bad experience, and in the process poor Terry was murdered. Perhaps the damage to his grave isn't from hate but from a tremendous amount of guilt. I guess I really just don't want this to be an intentional act.
     
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  11. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    I really like the grave surveillance idea!
     
  12. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    [​IMG] news clip from 9.5.73
     

    Attached Files:

  13. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I was thinking the same thing.
     
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  14. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Reminds me of the Starr Faithfull Case from 1931. Sand was also found in her lungs although with some water as well.
     
  15. Savemecastiel

    Savemecastiel Well-Known Member

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    Bumping
     
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  16. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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  17. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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  18. calo44

    calo44 Well-Known Member

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    This was a great podcast! It’s not too late for Terry’s family to get answers if someone could just come forward and speak up on what happened that night.

    Given how brazen the killers were, I wouldn’t be surprised that these individuals weren’t in constant trouble over the years and into adulthood. I just hope that one of them will have a conscience this late in life, and speak up.
     
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  19. Jenny0101

    Jenny0101 Member

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    This case absolutely haunts me. This poor kid suffered a horrible death, and someone thinks he deserves to suffer even in death. I hope someone gets a pang of conscience and confesses.
     
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  20. Nina Michigan

    Nina Michigan Verified President/Founder of Missing in Michigan

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    thank you! I worked with Terry's family to put the episode together.
     
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