Sturgeon Bay Police are renewing a 33 year-old missing-persons case. They're not ready to give up the fight for justice in the case of a missing woman that was last seen on September 15, 1975. Carol Jean Pierce was reported missing by her husband, Richard, on that day, but few clues have led to the discovery of Pierce's body or a decision in what exactly happened.
Police Chief Dan Trelka says the department began executing a search warrant at 7:30 am Monday on a parcel of land owned by Richard Pierce in Cheboygan, Michigan. Authorities have long believed Richard Pierce buried his wife there. Trelka says the hard work of previous police chiefs and the recent work of Lt. Thomas Baudhuin the last four years has allowed the overall puzzle to begin coming together, leading to the warrant.
“This is a situation that always was suspicious,” says Trelka “Chief Howard Larson initiated a missing person investigation 33 years ago, when she first disappeared. Enough information was never developed, to get to this point. Finally, we've gotten enough pieces to the puzzle, that have given us a picture to get a search warrant search the property.”
There is no set timetable for how long the search of Pierce's property will go on for. Law enforcement agencies from Wisconsin and Michigan are combining their efforts and services, including the use of a cadaver dog and ground penetrating radar. Trelka adds that the Sturgeon Bay Police at no point ever gave up hope of solving this 33-year-old mystery. “We've given up hope of ever finding Carol Jean alive,” says Trelka. “In all likelihood, she's a homicide victim. But we would like to bring closure to this situation, for the family.”
When asked what solving this case would mean to both the family of Carol Jean Pierce and to the department, Chief Trelka said it would be “huge for everyone, for the family to have closure and a victory for the department to bring that closure”. As for what this new search means for the case of Carol Jean Pierce, Trelka says it too remains just one piece of the puzzle.
According to the police report, Richard Pierce was a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and was a crew member on the Coast Guard Cutter Mesquite stationed in Sturgeon Bay during the 1970s. No charges have ever been filed against him.