Time to kill

Neigh­bour from hell

Real People - - CONTENTS -

Over the sax­o­phones, tubas and elec­tric gui­tars, love blos­somed in a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment shop.

The friend­ship be­tween col­leagues John Tarwacki, 40, and Carolyn Mcknight, 37, had grown af­ter the pair bonded over their re­spec­tive failed love lives. And in 2007, they mar­ried. Soon af­ter­wards, they took in Ke­lan, Carolyn’s teenage nephew, who was hav­ing a hard time with his par­ents.

In Fe­bru­ary 2010, the house was up at 6am, with Ke­lan head­ing for an early morn­ing club at school be­fore his aunt and uncle went to work.

But later that morn­ing, John’s dad, John Tarwacki Sr, had a call from their wor­ried col­leagues. They’d not turned up. So he went to their home in Niles, Michi­gan.

In the hall­way, John lay mo­tion­less with sev­eral stab wounds and Carolyn had been beaten, be­fore be­ing shot.

‘They’re dead,’ was all John Sr could say to the 911 call han­dler.

Police found two trails of foot­prints in the snow that had blan­keted the town that morn­ing.

Deliberate ones plod­ding up to the house and a pan­icked flurry as the in­truder fled.

Wrigley, the cou­ple’s 200lb mas­tiff, was shut in a back room.

Police im­me­di­ately de­cided it was personal – a beating, noth­ing stolen, the big dog who didn’t raise the alarm. It must have been some­one known to them.

They knocked on the neigh­bours’ doors.

One, Keith Lintz, 29, was known to police, but his mum, Sherry, had said he’d been asleep un­til she’d taken him to work at a Wal­mart store.

An­other neigh­bour said they’d seen a tall, young, white man in a hoodie run­ning down an al­ley at 7.45am – it sounded like Ke­lan.

De­tec­tives went to his school to break the news of his aunt and uncle’s death, and to ques­tion him. Ke­lan dis­solved into sobs. He couldn’t be fak­ing, and teach­ers said he’d been there all along.

Police turned to Ke­lan’s mum, Katie.

She ad­mit­ted she couldn’t stand her sis­ter, and ac­cused her of try­ing to take Ke­lan away.

‘I’m not go­ing to miss my sis­ter, but I didn’t kill her,’ Katie said bluntly, and both she and Ke­lan’s dad, David, had al­i­bis.

In­ter­views with John and Carolyn’s ex partners also came to noth­ing.

But two years af­ter the killings, Carolyn’s mum, Sharon, called de­tec­tives.

While clear­ing the house, she’d found a bloody knife in the freezer. It was a match for the cou­ple’s DNA.

Police had to apol­o­gise that they’d missed such a key piece of ev­i­dence.

Weeks later, a young woman called Pa­tri­cia Wilds was pulled over for driv­ing of­fences, and asked to make a deal.

She used to go out with Brian, the brother of one of the Tarwacki’s neigh­bours – Keith Lintz.

Ac­cord­ing to Pa­tri­cia, Keith came round to their house the morn­ing of the mur­der.

‘I left my f***ing foot­prints in the yard,’ he’d said. ‘They’re go­ing to find me.’

She was too fright­ened of Keith to tell any­one.

Now though, Keith was 450 miles away in jail in Nashville, Ten­nessee, serv­ing a sen­tence for mi­nor of­fences.

He failed two lie de­tec­tor tests, but still police didn’t have enough on him.

His cell­mate, Shane Zim­mer­man, though, said Keith had con­fessed to him.

He agreed to wear a wire to trap Keith.

‘I don’t want any­thing for it,’ Shane said. ‘I’ve screwed up my whole life. For once, I’m go­ing to do what’s right.’

Police pieced to­gether the story from the wire tap.

On the morn­ing of the murders, Keith set out to bur­gle a house to buy more drugs. He didn’t know John and Carolyn, but their house looked empty.

The huge dog was in the yard, but Keith kept pit­bulls, so he wasn’t afraid.

He took Wrigley by the col­lar, let him­self in through the un­locked back door and shut Wrigley in a room.

When Carolyn saw him, she screamed and John came run­ning to her aid.

Keith pulled a knife and fa­tally stabbed him.

He sav­agely beat Carolyn, shot her and fled empty handed.

In Oc­to­ber 2013 at Cass County Circuit Court, Keith was sen­tenced to life with­out pa­role for the two murders.

What seemed so personal was just a sense­less, ran­dom killing.

But John Sr, said, ‘At least now we know how it all hap­pened.’

He added that he still talked to the souls of John and Carolyn, and fi­nally had some good news to send to Heaven.

‘I’m go­ing to say, “We got him, Johnny. We got him.’”

John and Carolyn were found bru­tally mur­dered in their own home Zim­mer­man wore a wire to catch their killer This knife was found two years later in a freezer Lintz’s bur­glary attempt ended in blood­shed

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