The Upper Peninsula averages five murders a year, far less than urban areas across the state.
Author Sonny Longtine spoke to members of the Northern Center for Lifelong Learning about murders–both solved and unsolved–Wednesday night at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette. It is the second time he has presented to the NCLL, and he discussed seven murders that have occurred in the U.P.
One murderer was a social worker, David Allen Goodreau, who killed two women in Houghton in 1991.
“A young girl, Jodi Watts was murdered and also Kathryn Nankervis. They were killed by the most unsuspecting person you would believe,” Longtine said. “I talked to one of the girls that graduated high school with him and she said of all the people in my class, he’d probably be the least one you’d suspect of committing a murder. Those are very hard ones (murders) to solve. Karen Bahrman from the Munising area–the (Alger County) prosecuting attorney said that when you have a murderer that looks just like you and I, those are very difficult to work with because we expect murderers to look like murderers. They don’t, they come in all sizes and shapes.”
Longtine said he has had people ask him questions about the murders he covers in his book, and added there is a high interest in true-crime stories.
“One can go on TV right now and see forensic shows and all kinds of detective shows about true murders, and they seem to have captured the attention of the American people and Upper Peninsula residents,” Longtine said. “So banking on that, I pursued that (researching murders), and I’m finding there is a high interest across the U.P. in true murders.”
Longtine’s book, Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is available at Book World locations across the U.P., Snowbound Books in Marquette, and on amazon.com.