SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, MI Jan 29 2017-- In a county where homicides are a rarity -- occurring, on average, fewer than once per year over the past two decades -- state police are investigating a double slaying.
Flint residents Joseph Michael Carson, 31, and Anthony Lee Hammond, 39, were found dead Friday evening inside a white Dodge Nitro in an Owosso-area Walmart parking lot.
Around 5:20 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, police were alerted to two dead people in the parking lot at 1621 E M-21 in Caledonia Township. State police have since classified the incident as a double homicide. They have not said how the men died.
The MSP Crime Lab responded to the scene late Friday to gather evidence. An autopsy was scheduled for both victims as part of the investigation.
Over the past two decades, Shiawassee County has had 15 homicides, according to Michigan State Police data and Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole.
"(Homicide) occurs occasionally, but it's not a regular occurrence," said BeGole, who recently became sheriff of the department he's worked in for the past 20 years.
Two men dead in Walmart parking lot -- 'Nobody knows what to think'
Rather than asking for a drink, customers coming through the doors of the Rainbow Bar on Friday night asked first if anyone had heard about what happened.
Since 1997, there's only been one other double homicide in the county -- the 2009 slayings of an anti-abortion activist and a gravel pit owner.
On Sept. 11, 2009, Harlan Drake shot and killed anti-abortion activist James Pouillon, 63, in front of Owosso High School.
He then drove to the Owosso Township office of gravel pit owner Michael Fuoss, 61, and shot him to death before police were able to catch him that day.
Prosecutors said, at the time, Drake intended on killing a third person, a Realtor.
Drake, then a 34-year-old long-haul trucker, was found guilty in 2010 on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder for their deaths and is serving a life sentence in prison.
Police have said little about how and why they suspect the two men found dead Friday evening were killed.
Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser said releasing those sorts of details at this time could hamper the investigation. The only people who know the details, he said, are police and the people who did it.
BeGole said the double slaying is out of character for the county. He called Shiawassee County a "safe community" that's been facing an increased heroin problem over the past eight years.
Homicides in Shiawassee County over past two decades:
2017: Double homicide, state police investigating
2015: One, investigated by state police
2013: One, investigated by county sheriff's office
2012: Two, investigated by Owosso police department and sheriff's office
2010: One, investigated by county sheriff's office
2009: Double homicide, investigated by sheriff's office and Owosso police
2008: One, investigated by sheriff's office
2004: One, investigated by sheriff's office
2003: One, investigated by sheriff's office
2002: One, investigated by sheriff's office
2000: One, investigated by Owosso police
1998: One, investigated by Owosso police