The Michigan Department of Corrections says it has launched its largest-ever manhunt, involving 20 of the 30 members of the DOC’s Absconder Recovery Unit, federal marshals and local and state police looking for Parolee-at-Large Matthew Brunn.
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Brunn, who has a long criminal history, is on parole for a 2007 armed robbery in Grand Rapids. On Monday, he was placed on an electronic GPS ankle tether to track his whereabouts, DOC spokesman Chris Gautz told 24 Hour News 8.
At 10 p.m. the same day — the day before an 81-year old man Casey Wybenga’s body was found — Brunn cut off the tether. He apparently tossed it in a Dumpster behind a CVS pharmacy not far from Wybenga’s home in Wyoming.
The state prison spokesman said the cut tether sent an immediate message to a DOC monitoring center, but it did not lead to a search that night. Gautz said the department followed its policy — at first notifying police statewide through the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) that Brunn had absconded on parole.
“At that time, all we knew was that we had a parole absconder and we get thousands of GPS alerts each month,” Gautz said.
But, Gautz said, once the DOC learned that Victim Wybenga’s Ford Crossover had been stolen, it started searching Tuesday morning.
“Once there was a connection to a homicide, that’s when he became an absolute top priority and we marshaled all our resources toward finding this individual,” Gautz said.
Police said either Wybenga or Brunn checked into the America’s Best Inn and Suites in Walker sometime Monday. A motel employee discovered Wybenga’s body just before noon on Tuesday.
The source close to the investigation says it is possible Wybenga died of natural causes and Brunn panicked because of his past criminal history.
The DOC said Brunn violated his parole in November when he took Wybenga’s car without permission back then. While no charges were filed, he was jailed for the violation, Gautz said.
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