Person of interest in Zilwaukee cold case murder probe could be paroled

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ZILWAUKEE (WJRT) (9/4/2019) - The clock is ticking to move a mid-Michigan cold case forward.

A man who is a person of interest in a decades-old murder is set to be paroled this December. He was convicted of attempted murder in a 1993 case, but is also a person of interest in a homicide the year before.

"We are getting into crunch time," said Zilwaukee Township Police Chief Jeff Wenzell.

More than 27 years ago, the body of 22-year-old Michelle LaLonde was found in a burned out car beneath the Zilwaukee Bridge. Police say she was murdered.

They originally had a person of interest in mind, her boyfriend at the time, Robert Bisbee, but he had an alibi. Wenzell reopened the case last year.

"We did interview a couple of people, its been 27 or 28 years since then, so a lot of their memories were not as good," he said.

The cold case was reopened in part because that person of interest, Bisbee -- who was convicted for assault with intent to murder of another woman in Saginaw Township and sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in 1993 -- was up for parole.

A few weeks ago, at his first parole board hearing, Bisbee was granted parole as long as he completes a 60-day program.

LaLonde's brother, Larry, said he is shocked at the parole board's decision, but is still hopeful new evidence in his sister's murder will surface.

Wenzell continues to work the case.

"Some of the technology that's available now wasn't available then, that's why we submitted a couple of pieces to the crime lab for analysis," Wenzell said.

The parole board could reverse its decision if new information is discovered in the LaLonde murder.

"Please give us a call if someone is familiar with the case, or someone that knows anything about that, we would still like to talk to as many people as possible," Wenzell said.

The Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office could have appealed the parole board's decision, but did not. Nobody from the office could be reached for comment Wednesday.

The victim in the case where Bisbee was convicted is shocked at the decision and scared.