Suspect in Pontiac woman’s suffocation arrested

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

For weeks, Marie Elizabeth Colburn’s family has been weighed with worry knowing the man police say is a suspect in her death remained on the run.

The 30-year-old was found stuffed in a closet at her Pontiac home last month. On Wednesday, relatives learned federal authorities had arrested Kevin Jermaine Wiley after a lengthy search.

The news brought some closure to Colburn’s relatives, who are preparing for a memorial this weekend.

“We’re just relieved that he’s been found and off the streets and he has to face us in court, because we’ll be there,” said her mother, Cynthia Simmons.

Acting on a tip received by Oakland County Sheriff’s officials, the U.S. Marshals Service tracked Wiley, 34, to Kentucky on Wednesday, said Deputy Marshal Robert Watson.

Wiley, at the Hardin County Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, awaits extradition to Michigan, Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals and FBI officials long had been searching for Wiley, Colburn’s boyfriend, as a suspect in her death.

Her mother found Colburn’s body April 22 in an apartment on Ridgemont in Pontiac. She had been suffocated.

Colburn was an independent contractor for, delivering copies of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Relatives and co-workers hadn’t seen her in days.

Wiley was on parole for manslaughter and cut off a GPS ankle tether, investigators said. Wayne County court records show he has been found guilty of several charges: possession of cocaine less than 25 grams, possession of marijuana, felony murder and second-degree home invasion.

“This guy should never have been out on the street in the first place, based on his record,” McCabe said. “Somebody died as a result of this.”

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard was expected to call a news conference on this case and the parole system next week, McCabe said.

Meanwhile, Simmons plans to celebrate her daughter’s life during a memorial slated for this weekend at Elton Black & Son Funeral Home in White Lake Township.

One of the final preparations: a custom-made urn depicting Colburn, a lifelong animal lover, with her cats and brother Eric, who died in 2007.

Once the service is over, mourners are encouraged to visit an IHOP restaurant. “That was the last place we ate out with her,” Simmons said. “Marie loved to go out and get breakfast food. That was just her thing.”

As justice awaits, Simmons said she knows “we’ve got a long road ahead of us” coping with the loss of a friendly, outgoing woman known to chat up neighbors and strangers alike.

“Marie was the most nonjudgmental person I’ve ever known in my life,” her mother said. “She just had a very big heart that way. I’ve had so many people come forward and tell me how kind she was to them, how she always had a smile for everybody.”