MANISTIQUE — April 17th, 2015: Police were called to a back road in Schoolcraft County’s Doyle Township, where three bodies were discovered burnt up in a vehicle. Authorities identified the victims as Heather Aldrich, her sister, Carrie Ann Nelson and her boyfriend, Jody Hutchinson.
Several days later, police arrested Kenneth Brunke in Illinois and extradited him back to Michigan. Like Brunke, two other suspects, Garry Cordell and Marietta Carlson were also arrested and charged in the triple homicide.
The case took a twist in June, when Carlson passed away at the age of 28. An autopsy later revealed she died of a heart problem likely caused by years of drug abuse.
That left Brunke and Cordell as the two suspects left in the case. In October of 2015, Brunke entered a plea agreement to reduced charges and then took the stand and testified against his friend.
“I was told that Heather Aldrich was in my bedroom, also dead,” said Brunke.
“Did you see her?” asked Prosecutor Tim Noble.
“No, I did not,” stated Brunke.
“What was going through your mind at this point?” asked Noble.
“I was in fear for my life,” replied Brunke.
The next twist came from Garry Cordell a month later. The 47-year-old pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder.
Cordell was sentenced to life in prison the following week. Brunke received 40-60 months in prison.
After he was sentenced on the reduced charges, Brunke was charged with three drug felonies, including the delivery/manufacture of cocaine. Brunke pleaded guilty to all of the charges last month.
Kenneth Brunke will be sentenced Thursday in Schoolcraft County Circuit Court.