Kelly Boyce Hurlbert Memory Stays Alive 6 Years Later

As Cherry Festival comes to a close, we honor the memory of Kelly Boyce Hurlbert. Her family said that she had a sunny disposition. They said that she succeeded in everything that she did, and she liked to ride her bicycle. Her family said that she was “always laughing, always loving.”

Some people who do not succeed at everything they do are the Traverse City Police, who have failed to solve her hit and run homicide after six years. In this article, Traverse City Police officer James Bussell deflects the suggestion that the police should focus on local leads. Then prosecutor, now judge, Bob Cooney also said that law enforcement’s hands are tied at the six-year mark to bring many of the charges that might apply. But I’m pretty sure that the statute of limitations in Michigan for manslaughter is 10 years, so I don’t understand why law enforcement is in a rush to give up.

Didn’t they take her ghost bike down because some neighbors complained about it? I know people think I’m a terrible person to run this website…but what kind of person do you have to be to complain about bringing awareness to an unsolved homicide?

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4 thoughts on “Kelly Boyce Hurlbert Memory Stays Alive 6 Years Later”

  1. In addition to your comments above, the FBI had posted another reward -$25k reward for info. leading to an arrest on top of the significant local reward money. However, the most 9&10 News post is silent on the reward. Why? If I were writing that article, it would seem like an extremely important item to include.

    Perhaps a reminder of a reward might prompt someone to come forward…perhaps that someone no longer wants to protect the killer and the reward might be an additional push. Might the killer be some prominent city resident who is beyond reproach?

    I’m no expert but the area of the accident seems out of the way for a typical visitor. Someone coming home from a bar? Dropping someone off after a night out? At a house party? The police said they went door-to-door in the neighborhood…did they look in garages? Someone needed to hide that vehicle. Did they cross-match homeowner with their registered vehicle? Who knows because the police say nothing.

    Hopefully they have pulled the DWI or other material offense of every resident in that neighborhood and cross-matched them with vehicle ownership records.

    The local police said it was a firework night so many people could’ve taken different (residential) streets to avoid busier routes. This was quoted in a “Traverse Ticker” article. I call B.S. because it was 2 a.m. – fireworks were over LONG before the incident.

    Were there any other reported accidents that night? Hit and run vehicle accidents? Perhaps it was a drunk who took side streets because they’d smacked into someone prior to this accident. Maybe they were on the phone at the time they hit Ms. Boyce-Hurlbert?

    This was a violent crime and needs to be investigated like one. Sure, the police say we don’t know all they’ve been doing behind the scenes…I wouldn’t want them to compromise their investigation but a little more transparency would be helpful.

    Hopefully the police have looked at security video from every bar parking lot (if any available) and gas station in the area.

    Did they check with junkyards to see if black or silver trucks/SUVs were received. Were VIN#’s collected and cross-matched to an owner with a record…a DWI? We don’t know because they don’t tell us a thing.

    Were any trucks/SUVs reported stolen in T.C. around that time? Were they recovered? What kind of damage did they have, if any? Any DNA to be had (inside and out)? Probably not but they’ve not said either way.

    I don’t think the police have bombarded social media in an attempt to get leads and dangle the reward money but just because I’ve not seen them, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

    My heart aches for the victim’s family.

  2. Yes, the removal of the ghost bike was disgusting.

    It is the sort of inconvenient reminder that can cause folks who drive the route to report apparently insignificant details that can break a case. It is also a reminder that people get killed right where you are at this moment. And it is a reminder that Traverse City is in desperate need of safer bike routes – white lines on the road aren’t nearly sufficient.

    IIRC, the City said some fluff justification about not wanting to set a precedent that would lead to people chaining bikes to signs, but I think they were more concerned about maintaining an image that bad things don’t happen here. Gotta protect the brand, etc.

    I do believe everyone working on the case has worked very, very hard to follow every possible lead. We also can’t expect the investigators to reveal those details, because they are often key to ultimately getting a conviction.

    Checking out vehicle registrations of credit card paying bar patrons is a good one. But also, there are probably far more drunks driving from private parties on that night than driving from downtown bars.

    What happened to that damaged vehicle? Who stopped driving their damaged vehicle around that time? Who saw the damage? Who helped get parts for it and repair it?

  3. “Prosecutors come and prosecutors go, and many are political appointees. If the sheriff and the prosecutor are not buddy-buddy, we might not get any kind of cooperation from the prosecutor. The prosecutor may be looking at his win record. He might say, ‘This is too tough a case, I don’t want to deal with it.’

    “Sometimes, they won’t tell you directly what the policies are, because they can’t admit to it, or they will get in trouble if they do. I can’t tell you how many cases are ruined by politics. The Anne Kelley case was one. People usually think it’s underhanded, like the suspect in the case is really the police chief’s brother. That’s not usually what it is. It’s more likely something completely unrelated to the actual crime. It’s either a time factor, the possibility that they might lose the case, or it could be the specter of negative publicity for the town. Prosecutors may refuse to take a case because they don’t want to bring out the community’s dirty laundry, especially if that laundry is sitting in some bigwig’s basket. If it’s a tourist destination, they will especially resist tackling a prosecution that will scare tourists away from visiting their once quiet hamlet.

    “People think that when a person is murdered there is a requirement by our legal system that the person who committed the crime be prosecuted. There is no such mandate in our country. The state is only required to prosecute crimes it feels like prosecuting, that are in the “interest of the state.” That’s it. The victim has no rights, the family has no rights, and citizens’ only rights are voting the people they favor into office. It’s the state’s determination whether it chooses to proceed with a case or not. They don’t even have to investigate a case. They don’t have to prosecute a case.

    “If the prosecution becomes too expensive or unwieldy or it could possibly lose, it simply may not move ahead. Not even if the state knows who did it and there’s a solid pile of evidence, it just won’t do it. Prosecutors have so many cases on their plates that they decide which one’s they’ll take and with which cases they won’t bother. If there are easy cases and hard cases, they’ll take they easy cases.

    “The police tend to be frustrated with this, too, and that’s why sometimes they develop a negative attitude. They will work hard on a case for two years, thinking they have ample evidence, and the prosecutor won’t take it to trial. And if that happens to them enough times, they get cynical, and they say, ‘Why bother next time? Am I really going to sit here and kill myself investigating this stupid case when nobody will ever take it to court?’

    “These days, if the police don’t have a bucket of DNA and a video tape of the crime going down, they may lose confidence their investigation is worth doing. If they get handed a difficult crime that requires confessions or huge amounts of legwork, or if they have five other cases pending, they’ll just dump the most complicated one and go with the other four.”

    ~ Courtesy of Pat Brown, Criminal Profiler: The Profiler; My life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths Pg. 195-196

    1. This is very true in many jurisdictions. But GT County is big on prosecuting anybody and everybody who comes across their desk – unless that person has a big name to protect.

      I hope Kelly’s case is solved.

      It does make me wonder if it was someone who had a rep to protect. Otherwise, the GT PA’s office is perfectly fine with destroying your life and your family in the process.

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