Continuing the Conversation: We talked about the murder of Evan Yonker of Muskegon. Check out the articles below to learn more about the murder and more about Ryan Allen Berry’s motives and court arraignment.
This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories. Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words. Those happen on this show, a lot.
Episode 58: Bodies Found Buried, Evan Yonker’s Murder
Review of Zeke’s, Dowagiac, MI
Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it.
Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
Bodies Found Buried
Bonnie Haim was reported missing on January 7, 1993, after she failed to show up for work. Her purse was found behind a Red Roof Inn, nearby, in Jacksonville, Florida where she lived. Inside her purse wasn’t her usual set of keys, but a singular car key. Bonnie’s car was then found parked at the Jacksonville International Airport.
Bonnie had a three-year-old son named Aaron and a husband named Michael. Bonnie and Michael had argued the night she had disappeared. Michael claimed she took her keys and left their home in her car. A friend that Bonnie had talked to on the phone earlier that same night had said that Bonnie sounded distressed and agreed to call her friend again the next day.
Aaron, Bonnie’s son, initially went to live with Bonnie’s sister, Liz, after her disappearance. (I couldn’t tell how long they stayed together, but I do know that by the time Aaron was six, he was being adopted by the Frazer family.) Liz claimed that Michael sowed strife between her and her family after Bonnie’s disappearance, when she had custody of Aaron. Police suspected Michael in the disappearance of his wife, but he wasn’t given any formal charges.
Aaron, who had his named changed after his adoption from Haim to Frazer, began therapy at age three. It was at that time, Aaron drew a picture of his mom, Bonnie, being shot in the stomach. He was also quoted as saying, “Daddy hurt her” to the police. When Aaron asked his adopted parents, at age six, if he could look for his mom, they agreed. Aaron then grabbed a shovel. Aaron also liked to sleep with a brick under his pillow, for protection, in case someone came to hurt him during the night. Aaron has no memory of these events; they were recorded in his therapy or in police records. He had been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts since he was a teenager.
Aaron recently told Judge Steven Whittington that “I have always known that my mom was buried, I just didn’t know where. I tried to remember, but I could not.” He often felt driven to find where his mom was buried. Aaron believed his biological father, Michael, killed his mother. Aaron was able to win a conviction against Michael in a civil court. In 2014, due to the civil suit, Aaron was awarded possession of the home he lived in when his mother disappeared.
Aaron began tearing down the outdoor shower that Michael built shortly after Bonnie disappeared. Buried under the concrete of the shower, Aaron and his brother-in-law soon found what they originally thought was a coconut inside a plastic bag. They soon realized it was a skull. DNA tests confirmed that it belonged to Bonnie. The rest of her remains were also located under the shower slab.
Michael Haim was convicted of second-degree murder in May of 2019, at age 52. Aaron had recommended that his biological father receive 26 years, the same amount of time Bonnie had been missing. A judge gave him a life sentence instead, which is about 7 to 22 years, depending on different factors.
Phyllis Lutz, who was 74 years old, lived in rural East Leroy, MI. Starting in September of 2018, family members and friends at church noticed Phyllis’ absence. By Thursday, January 17, 2019, the police were called to Phyllis’ house for a welfare check. Jim Coleman, who is the Marshall post commander, said that the police then received a call that said Phyllis was buried in her front yard.
Friday, January 18, 2019, police did find Phyllis’ body in her front yard. Marcia Lutz, Phyllis’ only child, is being sought for criminal charges. Phyllis was known to have physical health issues and it isn’t believed that she was murdered. Marcia is being charged with concealing the death of an individual and failing to report the discovery of a dead body.
(Total speculation by me: she hid her mom’s body so she could continue to receive her retirement checks. Phyllis used to work at as a nurse in Battle Creek. She might have been a money saver.)
The concealing death charge is a felony, with the failing to report a dead body charge being a misdemeanor crime. However, I don’t see an article later than May 30, 2019 and Marcia is not registered in O.T.I.S. (Offender Tracking Information System) for prisoners. Was she not charged? The police seemed to view her kindly and talked about how cooperative she was during investigation. I’m too scared to call the police and ask further questions.
Theresa Lockhart was a Spanish teacher at Schoolcraft Highschool. Theresa was 44 years old and lived in Portage, MI. She went missing on May 18, 2017. Theresa was last seen, publicly, leaving a fitness center. It was Schoolcraft Community Schools Superintendent who reported Theresa missing after she failed to report to work.
Christopher, Theresa’s husband, was announced as a person of interest June 2, 2017. Christopher was the last person to have contact with her, saying she had driven away from their home after an argument. Christopher claimed Theresa had anxiety and had left home before as a cool down method. Theresa’s car had been found at a park-and-ride five miles from her house, two days after she’d last been seen.
Christopher wasn’t answering police questions, he didn’t attend any vigils after her disappearance, or organize or attend any search parties. Christopher also never contacted the police station for updates on his wife’s case. Christopher said he felt as if he was being victimized by the police’s attention. His house was searched for clues on June 7 and 8, 2017.
Christopher Lockhart had been convicted of domestic violence from an altercation with Theresa from the previous November. The charges were later dismissed. (Was it because their witness, Theresa, was no longer available?)
Theresa’s husband, Christopher Lockhart, committed suicide, his body being found October 24, 2017. After Christopher missed a check-in with his probation officer, and his tether for an alcohol related charge showed no movement for 30 hours, a wellness check was performed. His body was found in the basement by police, dead by hanging.
Christopher left a note confessing to Theresa’s murder. His suicide came shortly after her disappearance was featured on Dateline’s ‘Missing in America’ series. Christopher admitted to arguing with Theresa on the 18th and snapping emotionally. He admits to killing her and disposing of her body the following day. Christopher’s suicide note included a hand-drawn map to where her body had been buried in a shallow grave. She was located about 50 miles from the home that she shared with Christopher.
Christopher’s suicide note expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness.
Theresa’s body was found on the same day as Christopher’s body was found, using his map as a guide. She had been fully buried before being partially uncovered by the rain. There was significant decomposition but no immediate, obvious cause of death.
Determined later, Theresa Lockhart was given strangulation as the cause of her death.
August 25, 2019, Evan Yonkers was found dead by gunshot. It is believed that a suicidal man, Ryan Barry shot Evan and fled in a car to Grand Haven, Michigan. (Here is where Ali interrupts Jenn because she didn’t think Ryan was suicidal, he was homicidal as he killed another person. An odd discussion ensued.)
Evan was not at his home when Ryan arrived, but Evan’s girlfriend was there. There was a 911 call saying a suicidal man, Ryan, came into Evan’s home and held his girlfriend there, waiting for Evan to come home. It comes out later that Evan’s girlfriend is Ryan’s ex-girlfriend. After shooting Evan, Ryan then forced her to drive him to the park.
Ryan was found in Lake Michigan at Grand Haven State Park. He was trying to commit suicide. He’s treading water and the police are closing in. After an hour and a half, they bring him into the boat. They originally did not approach because they believed he was armed. Ryan was suffering from hypothermia because the water was about 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ryan Barry is being charged with unlawful imprisonment, two counts of committing a felony while armed, and murder. Prosecutors believe the motive was jealousy.
Zeke’s restaurant review
Dowagiac, MI (duh-wah-jack)
Jason Gatties on Facebook, 12/2018
I haven’t been to Zeke’s in well over 6 months, not due to anything bad mind you, just haven’t been back in awhile. Anyways, I noticed a couple new items I hadn’t seen before and went with the ham, egg and cheese sandwich. Wow! Please keep this one on the menu forever.
Jan Vec on Facebook, 6/2019
The staff was great, the food was not. We all get the poops, and now we call it having the Zeke’s.
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