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Quadruple homicide suspect in custody, had prior domestic, felony charges dismissed

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Sumpter Township — The Wyandotte man who police say claimed responsibility for a quadruple homicide in Wayne County on Saturday turned himself in late Sunday amid questions over why previous charges against him were recently dropped.

Raymond Lee Bailey, 37, was taken into custody by the Bay County Sheriff's Office and was expected to be transferred to Sumpter Township police, said a post at 10:20 p.m. on the department's Facebook page. Township police did not respond to calls seeking additional details.

Bailey's arrest ended a manhunt but may only intensify interest in felony assault and misdemeanor domestic violence charges against him that were recently dismissed. At least one of the charges involved his former fiancee, Laura Tanner, who was among the victims in Saturday's fatal shootings, according to social media posts from family and friends.

Laura Tanner

The Wayne County Prosecutor's ffice declined to discuss those charges on Sunday. Spokeswoman Maria Miller said, “It is our protocol not to comment during an ongoing homicide investigation” when asked why they were dropped.

Constance Cox, who identified herself as a second cousin of Tanner and who organized a fundraiser for the victims' families, said: "This senseless tragedy didn't have to occur."

"Please keep reminding victims of domestic abuse help is available," she said. "There is always someone to stand by them."

Investigators located Bailey's abandoned vehicle earlier near Bay City after tracking him to Bay County. A statewide alert had been issued and the search remained ongoing into Sunday night. Police said he may have been headed to the Upper Peninsula, where public records say he used to reside.

Four fatally shot people were found at a residence on Martinsville Road on Saturday morning, Aug, 15, 2020.

Officers found two men and two women dead from apparent gunshot wounds on Saturday morning at the residence in the 24900 block of Martinsville, a gravel country byway in the township.

Police said Bailey claimed responsibility for Saturday's killings in messages via telephone and texts to friends. Police have not released the names or ages of those killed but some have been publicly identified by family friends. Bailey had not been charged with the killings Sunday night.

The recent felony assault and domestic violence charges against Bailey were dismissed in November and January, respectively, according to records reviewed by The Detroit News.

The charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder involved Tanner, according to the 34th District Court documents.

The assault charge was dismissed during a probable cause hearing on Nov. 20. Bond, set at $1,000, had been posted Nov. 8. Bailey had been ordered to not have any direct or indirect contact with Tanner. The order expired on May 1.

Assistant Wayne County prosecutor Larry King told District Judge Brian A. Oakley at the time that prosecutors had "some issues with the gun" involved and wanted to dismiss the felony charge, but proceed with the domestic violence charge against Bailey, according to a Nov. 26 report in the Belleville Independent.

The domestic violence charge against Bailey was brought in October 2019 but was dismissed without prejudice on Jan. 7, meaning charges could be reinstated. It was dismissed when the complaining witness did not appear in court, said Patrick Nyenhuis, Bailey's initial court-appointed attorney.

Although victims can play pivotal roles in proving a criminal case, their cooperation is not legally required. Only prosecutors can issue or dismiss charges.

"This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the wrongdoer off the victim's shoulders and puts it on the Prosecuting Attorney's, where it legally belongs." according to a frequently-asked-questions post on the website of the Prosecuting Attorney's Association of Michigan. "It also means that the defendant cannot 'pressure' the victim into dropping the charges."

A GoFundMe account set up to offset funeral costs for the four said the close-knit family "is reeling from this senseless and tragic murders." The post identified the victims as relatives. 

Detectives identified 37-year-old Raymond Lee Bailey of Sumpter Township, an ex-boyfriend of one of the women, as a suspect in the Saturday slaying of four people in the Township of Sumpter.

"Fiercely loyal to each other and their families, these siblings/cousins/mothers and fathers/daughters and sons put family first and now our family desperately needs your help to quickly raise funeral expenses," the  post said.

LeeAnna Robertson-Yates, 29, told The Detroit News she was close childhood friends with Neil Sampson, also reportedly one of the victims. His brother, Forrest Sampson, also was a victim of Saturday's slayings, she said.

Neil Sampson was "goofy, and very, very caring and loyal, and he loved everybody," she said. "He always wanted to make everybody smile, and he always let everybody know he loved them. And he was so loyal and protective."

The two met in sixth grade at Van Buren Public Schools in Belleville, where Neil became Robertson-Yates' first real friend.

"He was my first friend who stuck with me through everything," Robertson-Yates said.

A few years ago, she had been in the hospital, Robertson-Yates said, and her husband, at home with the kids, couldn't come get her. So she called Neil, who gave her a ride home at 4 a.m.

Forrest Sampson, she said, was "like a teddy bear. ... He was super sweet and funny, also, and just loved to hang out and have a good time. ... They were a lot alike."

The friends hadn't stayed in such close contact recently, but when they caught up, Robertson-Yates said, Neil always talked about his family. "He always talked about old times and how he wished we could hang out more, but how he was happy with his life and his son, and loved his son so much," and his son's mother.

The news of the deaths has left the close-knit community reeling, Robertson-Yates said. "The people who were taken away from this community were some of the greatest people who could have been taken off this earth. This world is not going to be the same."

Michigan State Police had said Sunday that they were not involved in the investigation and referred questions to Sumpter Township police. Sumpter police said they would attempt to reach the police chief to answer questions, including details about the search for the suspect, but did not respond further.

Some residents living near the shooting scene on Martinsville Road said they heard a half-dozen or more gunshots late Saturday morning and thought at first they were coming from the wooded areas surrounding their homes.

Staff Writer Jordyn Grzelewski contributed to this report.