Police: Unpaid loans preceded 74-year-old Midland woman's murder

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MIDLAND (WJRT) (07/09/2018) - A 74-year-old Midland hairdresser found dead in late June had been loaning money to her great-nephew suspected of killing her, but allegedly was planning to stop.

Joel Wallace

"She felt sorry for him and his family and was providing funds to them, it sounds like giving some money and loaning some money. But she became concerned when money wasn't being paid back and indicated to multiple witnesses that she wasn't going to provide any money to him any more," said Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks.

Victoria Kilbourne's 33-year-old great-nephew, Joel Wallace, is accused of trying to forge a $2,000 check from her account around the time police believe she was murdered.

Wallace now is charged with murder, unlawful imprisonment, forgery, and uttering and publishing after Kilbourne's body was found June 30 on his hunting land near Onaway in Presque Isle County.

"Under what looked like a freshly piled woodpile, they moved that and a cadaver dog immediately hit on that area," Brooks said.

Midland County District Court Judge Michael Carpenter formally charged Wallace with the crimes Monday afternoon.

We spoke to his court-appointed attorney after the arraignment. Daniel Duke now has to start going through evidence from at least four counties. Kilbourne lived in Midland County, Wallace lived and was arrested in Tuscola County, the $2,000 check was deposited in a Saginaw County ATM, and her body was found in Presque Isle County.

"Making sure that his, all of his rights are protected," Duke said. "And making sure that they dot their 'I's' and cross their 't's'".

"We certainly want to get justice for her and her family," Brooks said.

Wallace previously served a prison sentence for Criminal Sexual Conduct and was on the state's Sex Offender Registry. He's also been arrested for drunk driving. Wallace has been known to use the name Joel Trump as well.

In this latest criminal investigation, police arrested Wallace in Tuscola County.

As a convicted felon it's illegal for him to own or possess a gun. Search warrants on his home and his father's home lead police to three guns. Tuscola County officials charged him with six gun-related charges and a seventh charge for driving without a license, before he was moved to Midland County to face charges in Kilbourne's death.

According to court documents:

A neighbor told police that Kilbourne had been loaning money to Wallace for a while, but she told the neighbor she planned to stop the loans because Wallace hadn't been paying her back.

Kilbourne, who was Wallace's great-aunt, was last seen alive before June 25 by a neighbor who shares a driveway with her in the 4400 block of Bay City Road in Midland.

The neighbor saw Wallace's truck parked in Kilbourne's driveway behind her car and he was smoking a cigarette underneath a tree. About two hours later, Wallace's truck was gone but Kilbourne's car remained.

Kilbourne failed to show up for work at Mirror Image Salon in Midland that day and didn't call in sick, so she missed several appointments. Her friends and family told police that was very uncharacteristic.

The neighbor got concerned after not seeing or hearing from Kilbourne that day or the next day on June 26. She let herself into Kilbourne's house, where she found her keys, purse, cell phone and cat sitting in plain view.

Midland Police issued an Endangered Missing Advisory for Kilbourne the next day. A detective contacted Scott Wallace, who is Kilbourne's nephew and Joel Wallace's father, to go through the inside of her house.

The detective listened to a number of voice messages on Kilbourne's phone from concerned friends and family members. Included in the messages were a series from Huntington Bank's fraud department inquiring about a suspicious $2,000 check.

Joel Wallace allegedly wrote himself a $2,000 check from Kilbourne's account and forged her signature on it. The bank became concerned when the signature didn't match their records and the check number was out of sequence.

After talking with Joel Wallace on June 27 and seizing his cell phone, police obtained a search warrant for his vehicle the following day. They found blood evidence and a roll of black tape inside, among other evidence.

Wallace told investigators he had visited his hunting property near Onaway earlier that week to check his trail cameras. Police obtained a search warrant for that property.

Kilbourne's body was found on June 30 in a shallow grave. Her ankles and wrists were bound with black tape -- possibly from the same roll found in Wallace's truck -- and her mouth had been taped shut.

Police say she died from blunt force trauma and possible suffocation. Her death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy conducted on July 1.

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