Suspect charged with homicide in the death of Ann Arbor resident Richard Fortune

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 3:09pm

Christopher Cheatham is charged in the murder of Ann Arbor resident Richard Fortune.

Christopher Cheatham is charged in the murder of Ann Arbor resident Richard Fortune. Buy this photo
Max Kuang/Daily

This article has been updated with information about Fortune's autopsy report. 

The Ann Arbor Police Department charged Christopher Cheatham, 25, in the murder of Richard Fortune, 71, after five months of investigation.

At his arraignment hearing on Wednesday, Cheatham was charged with a felony count of homicide, three counts of stealing a financial transaction device and illegal use/sale of a financial transaction device. He is also facing two misdemeanor counts of receiving and concealing stolen property worth less than $200.

Fortune, a retired U.S. postal worker, was found dead inside his home on the 2600 block of Lillian Road during a welfare check at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 20. An autopsy at the time showed Fortune’s death was a homicide. 

According to Fortune’s autopsy report, which was obtained by MLive, Fortune was found fully clothed and wrapped in a tarp. He had injuries around his head and neck and petechiae in his eyes, indicating he had been strangled to death, Washtenaw County Deputy Medical Examiner Allecia Wilson wrote in the report. 

According to the AAPD, Cheatham was one of several tenants living in Fortune’s home at the time of his death. During Wednesday’s arraignment, assistant prosecuting attorney Nimish Ganatra said Cheatham was linked to the homicide through cell phone data and biological evidence found in Fortune’s bedroom.

At the time of his arrest, Cheatham was found with several stolen credit cards, none of which belong to Fortune. According to Ann Arbor Police Lt. Amiee Metzer, these additional charges are not associated with the homicide. 

Cheatham is currently being held with bond in Washtenaw County Jail. He will appear at a probable cause conference on Aug. 8 and a preliminary examination on Aug. 15. 

Other than a minor drug possession charge and a misdemeanor malicious destruction of property charge — both dismissed by deferred prosecution — Cheatham has no prior criminal record. 

According to MLive, community members have expressed frustration with the lack of details police have revealed about Fortune’s death.