February of 1982 saw the retirement of two longtime officers, Lt. Eddie Owens and Sgt. Greg Katopodis. Katopodis was the only officer that came to the department when the East Ann Arbor Police Department was disbanded as East Ann Arbor became part of Ann Arbor. He spent over 33 years in police work and stated, “I'll miss the people that I am leaving behind and have been working with for the last 25 years. It (retirement) affects you because you won't see the people you have been working with on a daily basis anymore.”
Lt. Owens started as a beat officer in 1954 and became the first black command officer in the department's history. Once promoted, he worked in the Youth Bureau under the direction of Lt. George Simmons and then headed the unit once Lt. Simmons retired.
“One of my biggest rewards was working with the kids,” Owens said. “They would come back and see me and you could see them developing. I had a heart attack in 1973 and many of those kids sent me cards, called and visited.”
On March 30, 1982, William Hackett, barricaded himself in a house at 314 S. First with a semi-automatic weapon. Officer William Wise was dispatched to the address reference a report of a man shooting a gun. As Wise was stepping from his car, a series of shots shattered a window in the home. Wise dove to the ground beside his patrol car, where he stayed for over two hours in a drenching rain. A run to safety for Wise would have meant a 15 yard dash, across open ground, in front of the suspect's dwelling. As Officer Wise was on scene, two roommates of Hackett's were at the police department to report that Hackett was acting strange. They stated that Hackett had just purchased a semi-automatic rifle and was smoking large amounts of marijuana.
The Special Tactics Unit responded to the scene and the area was evacuated. Chief Corbett arrived on the scene and was speaking with Hackett on and off during the siege. At one point Hackett stated that he wanted more marijuana and Chief Corbett told him a bag of marijuana would be on the porch, in an attempt to get him outside. Hackett never came outside where officers were waiting.
About 10:30 P.M. Hackett was on the second floor of the house when he observed Det. Greg Stewart on an apartment building across the street. Det. Stewart, a STU sharpshooter, was on the roof directly across from Hackett's house. Hackett began shooting at Stewart and Stewart was instructed by Chief Corbett to return fire. Det. Stewart did so and the slugs hit the wooden window sill where Hackett had been standing. Splinters from the sill struck him in the face and he then ran to the first floor of the residence. STU then broke down the front door and found Hackett sitting in the living room, weeping. Hackett was later transported to Ypsilanti Psychiatric Hospital for testing.
Det Stewart was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal from the department and a special award for valor from the Ann Arbor News for his actions.
Elderly Woman Murdered
Another serial murderer came to the Ann Arbor area in 1982. Two elderly women were murdered in the Ypsilanti area prior to the murder of 84-year old Louise Koebnick. Koebnick was murdered in her W. Jefferson home on October 1, 1982. The murder was thought to be the third committed by the same person who was targeting elderly females.
Mrs. Koebnick had lived in the W. Jefferson home most of her life. Chief Corbett stated, “Mrs. Koebnick was an active alert member of our community. From our preliminary inquiries she comes over as a highly respected older lady who was always willing to help those around her. Maybe she was trying to help when she became a murder victim. It could be her killer came to her door asking to use the phone or on some other pretext to gain entry. Certainly robbery was not a motive in this homicide.“
The Ypsilanti cases involved two elderly women living only blocks from each other. The first murder victim was 91-year old Florence Bell who was raped and stabbed to death in her S. Summit home in January of 1982. In September, the killer struck again, raping and killing 85-year old Margorie Upson who lived on W. Cross in Ypsilanti.
After the murder of Koebnick, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Detectives began a cooperative effort in an attempt to find the suspect. Chief Corbett released a press release which stated in part, “On Friday, at approximately 9:30 a.m., October 1, a neighbor discovered the body of Louise Koebnick, 84, in her kitchen at 621 W. Jefferson in the City of Ann Arbor. Preliminary investigation disclosed that she had been brutally strangled and sexually assaulted. There are similarities surrounding the murder of Mrs. Koebnick and two other elderly females in Ypsilanti within the last nine months:
- All three were elderly white ladies who lived alone.
- All three homicides were committed in older neighborhoods.
- All occurred, it appears, in the day time.
Overall responsibility for the murder of Louse Koebnick has been assigned to the Investigations Division under the command of Major Raymond Woodruff. Several Ann Arbor Investigators are assigned on a full time basis. The Ann Arbor Police Department has consulted with the Ypsilanti Police Department, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office and the Medical Examiner's Office toward the solution of these homicides.
The Ann Arbor Police Department is requesting that anyone having knowledge of these crimes please notify us at 994-2875. We are requesting that all Ann Arbor residents keep their doors locked and be absolutely certain of the identity of anyone they admit into their homes.”
Detectives began searching records for suspects who may have been paroled for previous types of sex offenses. One such case involved an escaped prisoner who had been convicted of sex offenses involving elderly subjects in Grand Rapids. This prisoner had been transported to the University of Michigan Hospital for treatment of a neurological disorder in 1981. Upon his arrival to the hospital he escaped from his prison guard and his location was unknown when the first murder occurred in early 1982.
The detectives also began receiving help from the Lansing Police Department as they were investigating four similar murders which occurred in their city, just prior to the murders in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Four elderly women in the Lansing area were raped and strangled and five others survived similar attacks. The nine victims ranged in age from 77 to 80.
A break came in the case came with the arrest of 19 year old drifter Michael Harris. Harris was arrested in Jackson for the rape and attempted murder of a 68-year old Jackson woman. It had been the third attack on an elderly women in the Jackson area. Chief Corbett called Harris a prime suspect in the murder of Mrs. Koebnick as evidence was discovered linking Harris to the crime. While there was evidence, there was not enough to gain a warrant for his arrest. Detectives doggedly worked the case but were unsuccessful in their efforts until February of 2001. Due to DNA technology, detectives were able to obtain an arrest warrant closing a 19 year old murder case.