Rochester Hills man to be arraigned in 1988 cold case

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — A 55-year-old Rochester Hills man is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Oakland Circuit Court in a 1988 cold case of sexual assault and murder of an elderly Pontiac woman.

Billy Joe Bennett, who had been slated to be released from parole earlier this summer in other unrelated crimes, was arrested by detectives from the Oakland County Sheriff's Office in June for the April 1988 sexual assault and murder of 88-year-old Elnora Barrager.

Investigators said Barrager, found in her home by a relative, had been brutally beaten and sexually assaulted. An autopsy determined she died of heart attack from the assault. The door of Barrager's home had been kicked in and the house ransacked, investigators said.

“I am extremely proud of our Pontiac Substation Detective Bureau for bringing closure to this horrific case that occurred over two decades ago,” said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard in a news release. “May the family of Elnora Barrager find peace in knowing this heinous criminal is behind bars.”

The sheriff's office began working on the cold case in May 2015, working closely with the Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory on evidence linked to the case.

Bennett was bound over to stand trial after a preliminary exam earlier this month before Pontiac 50th District Judge Ronda Fowlkes Gross.

Bennett, who will be arraigned Tuesday before Oakland Circuit Judge Leo Bowman, is held without bond in the Oakland County Jail. He has an extensive criminal history and convictions for burglary, breaking and entering, prison escape, and auto theft. He was released from prison in 2012 and was scheduled to be released from parole on June 26, 2015.

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