Pontiac woman found stuffed in closet loved animals, babies
Pontiac — Marie Elizabeth Colburn was a lover of animals and babies and someday hoped to be a mother, said her parents.
Colburn, 30, who also delivered The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, made her final delivery run last Sunday. On Friday night, her mother found her body stuffed in a closet in her Pontiac apartment.
On Sunday, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office continued searching for her parolee boyfriend, Kevin Jermaine Wiley, 34, in connection with her suffocation death. Wiley, on parole in a Wayne County manslaughter case, cut off his GPS tether somewhere in Detroit, and the victim’s missing car was recovered in Detroit, officials said.
The sheriff’s fugitive apprehension team is in pursuit of Wiley.
Cynthia Simmons, Colburn’s mother, said on Sunday her daughter had a quick wit and a gift for banter that she picked up from her grandmother.
“I always told her it would take me three days to come up with the stuff she would just blurt out,” Cynthia Simmons said from her home in White Lake Township.
When Colburn was stressed, she would lay with her cats, said her mother. She said the purrs would bring her daughter comfort.
Now Angel and Lily, whom Colburn called her babies, are at her parents’ home, said James Simmons, her father.
Colburn’s love of babies was so strong that “when a friend would have a baby, Marie would call up and say, ‘I want to see my baby,’ ” Cynthia Simmons said. “And when she was with the baby, it was hers until she let go.”
John Morey, market sales and distribution director for Michigan.com, the partnership that manages the business operations of the newspapers, said Sunday that Colburn was last seen by employees Sunday.
He said Colburn had at least two stints delivering papers as an independent contractor for Michigan.com. The latest stint, for the Pontiac distribution office, started about a month ago, and Colburn served about 250 customers in the Clawson area, Morey said.
Morey said people at the Pontiac office recalled seeing Wiley with Colburn when she picked up papers to make her runs.
According to Wayne County court records, since 2000 Wiley has been found guilty of several charges: possession of cocaine less than 25 grams, possession of marijuana, felony murder and home invasion, second degree. He was on parole at the time of Colburn’s death.
Cynthia and James Simmons hadn’t heard from their daughter since Tuesday, so they went to her apartment in the 100 block of Ridgement Drive, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said.
On the front door to her apartment, they found a notice from the state Department of Corrections, which had been trying to contact Wiley.
They didn’t find Colburn but returned to the apartment an hour later and looked more thoroughly, finding her body in the closet with “obvious signs of trauma,” the sheriff’s office said. The parents called the office, which handles policing in Pontiac.
The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled Colburn’s death a homicide, with suffocation as the cause of death.
Colburn was born Marie Elizabeth Simmons and was a 2004 graduate of Lakeland High School. She is also survived by grandparents Gail Simmons and Robert and Gloria Dawson, along with extended family. Her brother, Eric, died in 2007.
“They’re together now,” Cynthia Simmons said.
Her parents said they were starting to make funeral arrangements.
There’s a $2,000 reward for information leading to Wiley’s arrest. Anyone with information is asked to the Oakland sheriff’s tip line at (888) TURN-1-IN, or Crime Stoppers of Michigan at (800) SPEAK-UP.