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Published: Thursday, 6/13/2013

Man accused in 1983 slaying makes court appearance

Longtime area resident faces 3 murder charges

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Andrew Gustafson of Birch Run, Mich., right, was ordered held on $1 million bond by Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook. Attorney Bobby Kaplan is at left. Andrew Gustafson of Birch Run, Mich., right, was ordered held on $1 million bond by Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook. Attorney Bobby Kaplan is at left.
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Thirty years after a Whitehouse woman was killed and buried in a Swanton Township ditch, the man investigators long suspected in her death appeared in a Lucas County courtroom.

Andrew Gustafson, 56, of Birch Run, Mich., stood before Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook with attorneys Pete Rost and Bobby Kaplan, charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of murder for the death of Janean Brown, 19, whose body was found buried in a ditch near his home Nov. 19, 1983. Her throat had been cut.

Because Mr. Gustafson has not yet hired a lawyer, Judge Cook postponed his arraignment on the charges until June 26.

Mr. Rost, who said he was there with the defendant on a “limited basis,” asked for a “reasonable bond,” pointing out that Mr. Gustafson has had no contact with a criminal court in the last 30 years, is married to the same woman he was married to in 1983, and, until recently, had lived continuously in Lucas County.

Chris Anderson, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, asked the court for a $1 million bond, which Judge Cook granted.

Investigators had interviewed Mr. Gustafson and searched his mobile home and van in the days after Ms. Brown’s body was found along Archbold-Whitehouse Road. He lived very close to the spot where she was found.

On June 6, Mr. Gustafson was arrested at his workplace in Saginaw and brought to the Lucas County jail after waiving extradition. Investigators said the county’s cold-case unit reopened the investigation into Ms. Brown’s death in May, 2011, and brought the charges based in part on DNA evidence that wasn’t available at the time of the homicide.

Family members and a friend of Ms. Brown who attended the brief hearing declined to comment afterward but met with Mr. Anderson.

“I asked them if they were surprised by [his arrest] and they said yes,” Mr. Anderson said. “We really hadn’t warned them it was coming. They’re glad that it’s proceeding even after 30 years. They’re looking for justice.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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