Photo: Royal Oak Police Department

Royal Oak Man Charged With Killing Father, Who Was Found With Hands, Legs Bound

The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office said the cause of death was ligature strangulation.

January 21, 2019 - 3:31 pm

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WWJ) -- A Royal Oak man has been charged in the death of his father.

On Monday 31-year-old Dane Steward was arraigned in 44th District Court in Royal Oak, accused of murdering his 73-year-old father last week in the 3500 block of Elmhurst Avenue. Steward faces once count of first degree murder, a felony which carries a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The victim's name has not been released.

Bond was denied for Steward.

No motive for the murder has been released.

The investigation unfolded around 6 p.m. Thursday when police responded to the home on Elmhurst, just north of 13 Mile Road, after being contacted by relatives who said they were concerned that repeated phone calls to both the elderly man and his adult son went unanswered. 

Responding officers located Steward's father dead inside the home with his hands and legs bound. 

The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office said the cause of death was ligature strangulation.

Officers also discovered the man's vehicle was missing and attempted to locate it, along with the man's son.

As the investigation continued, officers learned a Berrien County deputy had contact with Steward early Thursday morning after his vehicle had run out of gas on I-94 near the Michigan/Indiana border.

After an alert was broadcast to police agencies throughout Michigan and neighboring states, Gratiot County deputies were called to investigate a man -- later identified as Steward -- acting erratically at a gas station in Ithaca, Mich., around 8 p.m. Thursday.

"The clerk stated the person was very high and disoriented," Gratiot County Sheriff Douglas Wright told WWJ's Zack Clark. "Deputies arrived to see if he was OK and began questioning the subject and they did determine that he was under the influence of something -- not alcohol but some type of narcotic.

"He stated the vehicle belonged to his father and he actually gave the father and mother's telephone number so officers could call. The officers called his mother -- there was nothing on the computer, they ran him in the LEIN computer and his driving record was good -- and the mother at that time said, 'Well, I'm pretty sure Royal Oak police want him for something.'"

After confirming he was a person of interest in a possible homicide, deputies attempted to take the son into custody. However, Wright said he violently assaulted the deputies.

"He tried to get back into the vehicle, kicking and punching the deputies. He kicked a couple deputies in the face, in the legs, and was able to put the vehicle from park. So, the deputies jumped away from the vehicle real quick and a pursuit ensued," said Wright. 

Gratiot County deputies pursued the vehicle for roughly an hour through Clinton, Ingham, and Livingston counties while other deputies along the pursuit route deployed spike strips, which flattened two tires on the suspect's vehicle on southbound US-127.

Despite two flat tires, Steward continued down 127 to eastbound I-96, Wright said. In Livingston County his car burst into flames and he finally came to a stop after the flames became too intense.

"He came out of the vehicle with a big flashlight in his hand. It was dark, the officers didn't exactly know what it was at first and he was tased (sic) twice."

Steward was taken to the hospital for evaluation of minor injuries and remains in police custody. He is expected to face murder and other charges in Oakland, Livingston and Gratiot counties.

Authorities say Steward does not have a criminal history. However, Steward could face charges in Gratiot and Livingston Counties for his actions stemming from the assault on deputies and lengthy pursuit on Jan. 17.

His next scheduled court date is set for Feb. 1 in the 44th District Court before Judge Meinecke.