Beaten, suffocated, and discovered in a wooded area — that’s how Mary Prieur’s life ended in 1997. Her murderer was never brought to justice. Ida Houston, shot to death in her home in Flint after a night of bowling. Police believe robbery was the motive. The suspect was never captured. Stop for a minute and imagine the horror of losing your loved one so violently, and having to accept that their killer is still enjoying life. These are only two of dozens of unsolved homicides listed on the Crime Stoppers of Flint and Genesee County website.
“I know what it’s like to need closure,” says Julie Lopez, director of the Flint chapter.
On July 9, 2011 her father-in-law, Pablo Lopez, was shot to death while sleeping in his bed on Flint’s eastside. “Behind each victim’s face is a family hoping that one day their loved one’s murderer is brought to justice. Their killers will continue to roam the streets until police get that tip that will break the case,” Lopez says.
In the last two-and-a-half years, Crime Stoppers has awarded over $51,000 to tipsters. Since January 2014, more than 1400 tips have been called in, and more than 100 have helped law enforcement make arrests in Flint and Genesee County. The cash rewards for anonymous tips have to come from somewhere, but Crime Stoppers is not funded by police departments or the state.
“We are a non-profit organization, and 100% of the donations come from people and companies that share our common goal –-to make Flint & Genesee County a safer place to live, work, and play,” Lopez says.
“This is a tool that can be used by citizens,” says Mt. Morris Township Police Chief Terence Green, who says some tips from Crime Stoppers have been used by his department. “It’s been my experience that sometimes that face-to-face meeting makes people reluctant to provide their information at the scene. They are more forthcoming if they can provide this over the phone,” Green says.
Both Green and Lopez agree that supporting an organization like Crime Stoppers is everyone’s business. “If it’s a high-crime area, your business isn’t going to thrive. Crime is crime and businesses, employees and residents need to have a safe environment,” Lopez says.
“Donations from organizations are well worth it. No matter where crimes are committed in Genesee County, they affect us all. Someone can provide a tip on a certain crime and then you find out this person has been committing crimes for years and now they’re off the streets,” Green says.
Funding is needed for rewarding tipsters, creating marketing tools, and other expenses of running the organization. “You never know what little information might help law enforcement solve a crime,” Lopez says. “It seems not all tipsters are in it for the money, as many of them never call back to pick up their reward. Maybe they’re just doing it because they know it’s the right thing to do.”
If you’d like to donate to the Crime Stoppers of Flint & Genesee County you can send a check to 210 E. Fifth St. Flint, MI 48502 or go to www.crimestoppersofflint.com. Volunteers are also needed. For more information you can call the Crime Stoppers office 810-237-6816. Tipsters can submit a tip by calling 1-800-422-JAIL(5245) or www.crimestoppersofflint.com.