By Emma Kerr, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 14, 2013
To outside observers, it seemed the case had gone cold. University medical student Paul DeWolf was found dead in his room at the Phi Rho Sigma fraternity house in July, it appeared, without any explanation. For the Ann Arbor community, it seemed that his killer had gotten away with murder.
But over the past few months, the Ann Arbor Police Department had been piecing together a chain of events and people which lead to the arrest of three suspects hundreds of miles away in South Carolina.
The preliminary hearing held Friday marked the beginning of the legal resolution to DeWolf’s sudden death. Joei Jordan, 20, and Shaquille Jones, 21, sat in Ann Arbor’s 15th District courtroom as defense and prosecution attorneys connected the series of discoveries which brought them to Jordan and Jones.
The third suspect, Dajeon Franklin, has been accused by Jones and Jordan as the one who physically pulled the trigger that killed DeWolf. Franklin has not yet been formally charged. Jones and Jordan are facing murder and home invasion related charges.
From July 24, the day DeWolf’s body was found, to October 3, police had not announced any promising leads. They knew that DeWolf was last seen at 10:30 p.m. the night he was killed and that there were no obvious signs of forced entry. After talking to residents, a missing PlayStation 3 indicated that the murder may have been related to an attempted home invasion.
Next door to the fraternity, at 210 N. Ingalls Street, a student’s laptop was reported stolen in what at first appeared was an unrelated incident. However, this laptop became the key to charging a suspect in DeWolf’s killing. A week after DeWolf's death, Police found a wallet belonging to one of the 210 N. Ingalls Street residents on the fraternity’s property. This was not the only item from DeWolf’s neighbor’s home.
Police were able to connect the string of robberies to the same party allegedly responsible for DeWolf’s killing, but attempts to identify a suspect had failed. More than two months after the discovery of DeWolf’s body, an unidentified man from Detroit attempted to access the stolen laptop, alerting police as to its exact location in the process, The Detroit Free Press reported. But even after finding the man in possession of the stolen laptop, police were still far from connecting the dots back to DeWolf’s alleged killers.
Police found it had been sold on Craigslist by a man named Jayson Atkins, who made the exchange in Ann Arbor at the State Street Starbucks. In statements to the police, Atkins asserted that he had met another man, Joei Jordan, at a gas station and paid $200 for the stolen Macbook Air. He also provided police with an explanation for the cheap price tag: the sellers only had a short period of time to move their goods before “heading south.” It was this identification of the man responsible for the sale of this stolen laptop that lead police to arrest Jordan, Franklin and Jones in South Carolina. At this point, it is unclear how exactly the three were tracked down.
In South Carolina, Jordan and Jones were questioned individually on Nov. 5 and 6, and their statements led to determining the location of the PlayStation 3, though information at this time is unclear.
Tracing the stolen PlayStation 3 back to the three suspects became the next step in the investigation. Detectives ended up on the doorsteps of Michael Robertson’s home in Ypsilanti, where he allegedly behaved evasively.
His testimony in Friday’s preliminary hearing was disputed and inconsistent, but from his original statements, police were able to gather that Jones, Jordan and Franklin, who were characterized by Robertson as “jittery” and “hyper,” were all at Robertson’s residence multiple times after robberies-gone-wrong. They also discussed the DeWolf murder, as something that “could come back on us.” Robertson helped coordinate the sale of the item stolen from DeWolf’s fraternity to his long-time friend, Ypsilanti resident Patrick Davis.
Police recovered the stolen PlayStation 3 from Davis and verified it as the console from DeWolf’s fraternity house. Along with the recovered laptop, these two items will help the prosecution build a case connecting Jones and Jordan first to the home invasion incident and subsequently to DeWolf’s homicide.
At their preliminary hearing Friday, Jordan and Jones made statements admitting their involvement in the home invasion and subsequent death of DeWolf.
At this time in the investigation, much evidence remains undisclosed, but the strategies, witnesses and small pieces of evidence divulged at Friday’s preliminary hearing will be expounded upon in the upcoming trial.
Jordan and Jones will remain in custody with no bond. The pretrial hearing is set for January 29 at 1:30 p.m.
Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misidentified the fraternity where Paul DeWolf was a resident.