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Son Taken Into Custody After Father Found Dead, Bound In Royal Oak Home

January 18, 2019 - 4:04 pm

ROYAL OAK (WWJ) - A 31-year-old man has been arrested, accused in the death of his father in Royal Oak. 

The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office said the cause of death for the 73-year-old victim was ligature strangulation; and the case is listed as a homicide. 

The investigation unfolded around 6 p.m. Thursday when police responded to a home in the 3500 block of Elmhurst Avenue, 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 the man dead inside the home with his hands and legs bound. 

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 the son 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 the son -- acting erratically at a gas station in Ithaca 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 the son 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.

"The vehicle still continued down 127 to I-96 eastbound," said Wright. "In Livingston County, his car actually became engulfed in flames. He stopped and after the flames got 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."

Wright said the Taser didn't take effect either time because of the clothing the son was wearing and "due to his condition." Deputies and Michigan State Police troopers eventually were able to physically restrain the son and he was placed under arrest. 

The suspect 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.

An investigation is ongoing.