Family hopes Deanie Peters arrest will erase longtime suspect’s name

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The family of a long-time suspect in the 40-year-old disappearance of Deanie Peters are hoping the recent arrest of another man in the case will clear his name.

It wasn’t until a few years after that 14-year-old Deanie went missing at February 1981 From his brother’s wrestling practice at Forest Hills Central Middle School, detectives began to focus on Bruce Bunch – a goal that remained for decades, even beyond Bunch’s death.

Deanie’s body has never been found.

An undated courtesy photo of Deanie Peters.

Bunch’s cousin, Sheridan’s Kirby Johnson, said she hoped the arrest would distract from him.

“I really, really hope Bruce gets away with this,” Johnson said. “Because Bruce didn’t do that. Take their name out of everyone’s mouth.

Bunch’s cousin had heard the theory: that Deanie had quarreled with a girl Bunch knew, that he had run over her in his car when he was 17, maybe only to scare him, then buried her his body.

A cold case team that started working on the case in 2008 couldn’t rule him out as a suspect.

“We were never able to eliminate Bruce Bunch and I think we have already uncovered evidence that Bruce was involved in this affair with others and then we focused on those people,” said the retired detective of Michigan State Police Sgt. Sally Wolter told Target 8 earlier this year.

For four years, the Kent Metro Cold Case Team interviewed more than 200 people and searched for up to 15 possible burial sites.

Bunch died in 2008 in Kentucky before the cold matter could question him.

But the arrest of James Frisbie last month – on first arrest in the case – raises new questions about the theory of Bruce Bunch.

A booking photo of James Douglas Frisbie, left, and a courtesy photo of Bruce Bunch, right.

Was there a connection between the two?

Frisbie, 61, is charged with perjury for allegedly lying about possible suspects or witnesses in the case.

Some who know Frisbie, who is from Caledonia, said they had never heard of Bunch, who grew up in Lowell and was four years younger.

Bunch’s cousin said she had never heard of Frisbie until her arrest.

” I do not know him. I have no idea who he is, ”she said.

Wolter, the former cold case team leader, said she had not been contacted by the new case team and could not comment.

Bunch became a suspect after speaking intoxicated around a campfire about the disappearance shortly thereafter.

He later denied any involvement and said he was only talking about a dream.

“Yeah, he got drunk, definitely, yeah.” He was a mean drunk, sure, sometimes, you know, ”his cousin said. “Most of the time it was a teddy bear.”

Kent County District Attorney Chris Becker declined to comment on whether there was a connection between Frisbie and Bunch.

He also declined to say whether his office had ruled Bunch out as a suspect.

Retired Kent County Sheriff’s Detective John Orange, who helped investigate the disappearance years ago, recalls interviewing Frisbie at first.

The Metro Cold Case team, which started on the case in 2008, also interviewed Frisbie.

“I remember him in a few interviews, but what was said in those interviews I won’t remember,” Orange said on Friday.

He said Frisbie had never been a suspect in death.

“We went to see him to get information, but never for him as a suspect,” he said.

The retired detective has said he hopes Frisbie’s arrest may lead to the discovery of Deanie’s body.

“I hope he knows something), and if he does, he will disclose it,” Orange said.

Frisbie is free on bail. He is expected to return to court on August 26 to determine if there is enough evidence to stand trial.

Target 8 contacted him, but he did not respond. His lawyer, David Dodge, declined to comment.

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