Loyd Dejohn's grandmother, Nettie Schwartz, and Dawn Hyslop, Kimberly Dejohn's sister, speak to the media after Loyd Dejohn's hearing Thursday. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Warren — Ann Johnson said her son, Loyd Dejohn, and his wife, Kimberly, always had a tumultuous marriage, but she never thought things would go as far as they did.
“I would never believe he was capable of something like this,” she said. “I just don’t believe it.”
On Thursday, Loyd Dejohn was charged with first-degree murder, accused of strangling his wife to death last month and then burying her body in a shallow grave in northern Michigan.
Dejohn, 46, of Warren, was arraigned on the charge in 37th District Court. Through his court-appointed attorney, Timothy Barkovic, he waived the formal reading of the felony charge. If convicted, Dejohn faces life in prison.
Dejohn stood mute and Judge Matthew Sabaugh entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. The judge also rejected Barkovic’s request to lower Dejohn’s $1 million bond.
At the request of county prosecutors and Barkovic, Sabaugh also scheduled the next hearing for Aug. 28 to enable authorities to continue their investigation and share evidence with the defense.
“We’ll need time to procure all of the discovery and hand it over to Mr. Barkovic,” Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said during the hearing.
Johnson was one of several families members who were at the hearing Thursday in a show of support.
“It’s just not him,” she said, choking back her sobs. “He’s not a bad boy. My son would never do this.”
She also said she was glad Kim Dejohn’s family got some closure since she had been missing for five weeks before police found her body.
Police say Kimberly Dejohn, 51, disappeared from her Warren home May 14. Her husband told investigators he last saw her when she left their house after a fight.
Loyd Dejohn also never reported she was missing. A couple of weeks later, police were contacted by Kimberly Dejohn’s sister.
Detectives later received a tip from an inmate at Macomb County Jail that prompted them to search an abandoned property near M-68 in Afton where officers found the shallow grave containing Kimberly Dejohn’s body.
Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz conducted an autopsy and declared the cause of death a homicide by ligature strangulation.
Police arrested Dejohn after he returned from a trip to Rogers City, 40 miles east of where the body was discovered.
Authorities initially charged Dejohn with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, but raised the charges against him.
In addition to murder, he’s also charged with disinterment and mutilation of a dead body and aggravated domestic violence. Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said Wednesday he would seek the elevated charges.
On Thursday,Warren police detective James Wolfe testified Dejohn told investigators his wife struck her head against a dresser after he pushed her.
He also testified police found blood stains in the Dejohn home’s living room as well as in an upstairs closet buried under numerous items, the detective said.
Wolf said witnesses told investigators Dejohn left his home for his trip up north in his truck, which had a bed full of dirt.
Barkovic told the court his client maintains his innocence.
Kimberly Dejohn was a loving person, one of her sisters, Dawn Hyslop, said after the hearing.
“I’ve lost two here,” she said outside of the courtroom after the hearing. “I care about Loyd. But I’m really going to miss her.”
Nettie Schwartz, Loyd Dejohn’s grandmother, said her grandson and his wife spent a lot of time with her. She also said she thought of Kim as a daughter.
“How does it feel to lose Kim? What’s it like if you tear off your arm?”