Lawyer: Client likely to be charged in Armada killing

Ursula Watson
The Detroit News

Port Huron — – The attorney for a 32-year-old man police call “a person of interest” in the murder of an Armada teen said Monday he expects charges soon will be filed against his client.

“It is purely speculative on my part; however, it has been a very long time and we feel that the investigation is coming to an end,” said Dean Ankouny, attorney for James Donald VanCallis.

In August police highlighted their interest in VanCallis in the investigation of the July murder of 14-year-old April Millsap.

“Although Mr. VanCallis maintains he had nothing to do with the murder, if charges were to come down this week, that would not be surprising,” said Ankouny.

Ankouny added that most of the investigation was completed last week.

VanCallis, along with his father, James Bernard VanCallis, 66, appeared in St. Clair County District Court Monday on charges related to a pot-growing operation at their home in Goodells in St. Clair County.

Ankouny represents both men and said they face charges for failing to be in full compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

“We are still actively involved in the investigation and we are hoping to bring it to closure,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith added, “If and when the police present us with a warrant, we will move forward at that time.”

Ankouny said both of the VanCallis men had valid medical marijuana cards at the time of the first search of their home and their arrest. While the senior VanCallis is out on $75,000 bond, his son is still in custody with a $75,000 bond. They are scheduled to appear in court for pretrial at the St. Clair County Courthouse at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 20.

April’s body was found in a ditch along the Macomb Orchard Trail in July. She died of blunt head trauma and asphyxia due to neck compression, according to a death certificate issued by the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office.

State police have sought information on a motorcycle that may have been in the area at the time. Authorities also have released a composite sketch of a male with sandy-brown or reddish hair.

Shaw has said the teen’s family and her boyfriend aren’t considered suspects in her death.

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