Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Month later, still no answers in fatal assault

October 31, 2000

East Lansing police officials remain optimistic, but time might be running out for tracking down the person responsible for the Oct. 1 attack of Brandon D’Annunzio.

“Right now the case is still active and the reward is still in place,” said East Lansing police Lt. Kevin Daley. “The greater the amount of time that passes, the less likely it will be that we get the information we need to solve the case.”

It has been nearly a month since the fatal attack on the 24-year-old Livonia resident. Detectives are continuing to follow leads and tips they have received, but a strong break has yet to surface in the case.

“The tips we had coming in have pretty much fizzled out the further we get away from the incident,” said East Lansing police Detective Lt. Lance Langdon. “But we’re not out of work yet, and we’re still trying to track down the suspects,” he said.

On Oct. 17, police extended their search for D’Annunzio’s attackers into Evanston, Ill., home of Northwestern University. The attack happened the weekend of the MSU vs. Northwestern football game, and the assailant could have been in town for the game, police said.

Police also began looking for leads in Big Rapids, Mich., home to Ferris State University. Witnesses say one of the men wanting for questioning was wearing a Ferris State shirt.

Detective Donald Stange of the Northwestern Police Department said the department released information on the case and investigation to the campus newspaper. It hoped to generate more tips and leads for detectives in East Lansing, but Stange said the department is not opening a case of its own.

“Unfortunately, as of yet, we haven’t heard anything back about it,” he said. “We are at the disposal of the East Lansing Police Department and anything they ask of us, we’ll do.”

D’Annunzio was assaulted in the early morning hours of Oct. 1 outside BW-3, 220 M.A.C. Ave., where he had been attending a bachelor party for a friend.

Earlier in the evening he was involved in a verbal argument with a woman outside The Riviera Café Restaurant & Lounge, 231 M.A.C. Ave., near BW-3, police said.

D’Annunzio was separated from the other members of his party later that night and became sick while standing outside BW-3 when a group of five men and two women approached him. One of the men then assaulted him, a witness told police.

He spent 10 days in Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital Neurological Intensive Care Unit before being removed from life support Oct. 11. D’Annunzio suffered from a severe head injury, a fractured skull and a blood clot in his brain.

Langdon said it’s unfortunate no police officer had been stationed outside the two popular bars the night of the attack. Now police must rely on the eyes and the ears of those who witnessed what happened firsthand.

Criminal justice Professor David Carter said relying on purely witness-generated leads makes the time frame for solving the case even more important.

“Memories begin to get foggy and witnesses don’t quite remember what the suspects may have looked like after a while,” he said. “Most homicide detectives say that if you can’t find your primary lead in the first 24 hours, the chances of solving the case begin to decline.

“That doesn’t mean this case won’t be solved, it just makes it more difficult.”

Police will continue to circulate the composites of three individuals - two men and a woman - wanted for questioning in the incident.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the East Lansing Police Department at 337-2599 or the East Lansing tip line at 1-877-ELPD-TIP.


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