Body of missing ex-Detroit cop found in west side park

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Investigators on Thursday believe they found the remains of retired Detroit Police Officer Stefon Hodo in a west-side park, the city's top cop said.

A body was found at about 11 a.m. in Stoepel Park #1 near Evergreen and Outer Drive. Although the official cause of death had not been confirmed Thursday, Detroit Police Chief James White said detectives believe Hodo was killed and his body dumped in the park after a witness reported seeing the retired cop arguing with a 29-year-old man.

Former Detroit police officer Stefon Hodo

"We still have to await official confirmation from the (Wayne County Medical Examiner), but all things point to this being (Hodo)," White said.

A Detroit Police source told The Detroit News that police have the man suspected of killing Hodo in custody. The suspect was arrested last week after he allegedly shot a 40-year-old man in the finger with a gun he'd stolen from Hodo, who served on the police force from 2005-13, police officials said.

The News is not releasing the 29-year-old man's name because he has not been charged with Hodo's killing.

Last week's shooting was the latest incident in which allegedly violent crimes were committed by a Wayne County or Detroit defendant who'd been released on personal bond. 

It came days after 36th District Court officials announced the court would eliminate cash bond for most defendants — a decision that was criticized by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

The suspect in Hodo's killing was free on personal bond while awaiting trial on drug charges when on June 30, police say, the man drove by a house in the 15300 block of Ferguson near Fenkell and the Southfield Freeway at about 11:15 a.m. and shot up the house. The 2007 Lexus and pistol used in the drive-by shooting were stolen from Hodo, police said.

About three hours later, police said the man again drove to the house and opened fire. A 40-year-old man who was inside the house ran to the doorway and returned fire, police said.

During the gunfight, the 40-year-old man was shot once in the finger. The alleged gunman fled, and was arrested hours later near Schaefer and Tireman by Detroit police officers, Wayne County Sheriff's deputies and Michigan State Police troopers.

Prior to last week's arrest, the suspect in Hodo's killing had been free on his own recognizance while awaiting trial on charges of possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license, following his May 6, 2021 arrest in Detroit, court records show. 

Those charges followed 2018 gun arrests in Detroit and Warren.

In July 2018, the man was arrested in Warren with a pistol and was convicted of improper possession of a firearm, a misdemeanor, and given 12 months of non-reporting probation, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said.

Michigan State Police investigators search a wooded area in Stoepel Park in Detroit on Thursday, July 14, 2022. Investigators believe they found the remains of retired Detroit Police Officer Stefan Hodo in the park.

Two months later, the man was again arrested on a gun charge, Gautz said.

"He was arrested after a call of a felonious assault in progress near Rivard and Atwater," Gautz said. "Police located (the man) walking through a nearby field. They saw the outline of a gun in his hoodie and found a loaded .40 caliber handgun on him."

The man pleaded guilty to attempted carrying a concealed weapon and was given a year of probation, court records show.

On May 15, 2019, a warrant was issued for the man's arrest after he violated the terms of his probation, court records show. During a hearing a month later, Wayne Circuit Judge Gregory Bill continued the defendant's probation and released him on personal bond, according to court records.

A second probation violation warrant was issued on Aug. 6, 2019. During the arraignment on the violation three weeks later, Bill set bond at $10,000, 10%, according to court records.

The man failed to appear for a Sept. 19, 2019, probation violation hearing, and a third arrest warrant was signed, court records show. 

Following a Dec. 4, 2019, probation violation hearing, Judge Bill set aside the warrant for failing to appear at the previous hearing and closed his probation. 

Seven months after the man was arrested last year, on Oct. 5, 2021, he was arraigned in 36th District Court, charged with drug possession and given a bond of $20,000, 10%, court records show.

While out on bond in the drug case, Detroit Police again arrested the man on Feb. 8 and he was charged with felony firearm, and possession of a weapon by a felon. During the Feb. 10 arraignment, 36th District Magistrate Jeffery Kleparek set a personal $11,000 bond and released the man on his own recognizance.

During a Feb. 22 hearing on the weapons charges, 36th District Judge Roberta Archer continued the man's personal bond condition, according to court records.

On March 31, the man appeared for a hearing before Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan on the drug charge. The judge dropped the man's $20,000/10% bond condition and ordered him released on his own recognizance, court records show.

After last week's shooting, the man's bond was revoked and he was remanded to the Wayne County Jail.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN