Battle Creek Cold Case Murder Solved After More Than 32 Years
A Battle Creek Police Detective was finally able to give a Michigan family the answers they waited more than 32 years for.
The family of Gayle Barrus finally have the answers they've waited decades for. After many failed attempts to identify the suspect, who left his DNA behind as evidence, Battle Creek Police Detective Scott Marshall was finally able to tell the family of Gayle Barrus that without a shadow of a doubt the murderer has been identified. Roger Plato, who had long been a suspect, was identified as the person who murdered the single mom.
Plato however, will not be brought to justice. He was shot dead by Battle Creek Police just days before the missing single mother's body was found in 1988. Nor will the man believed to have helped Plato in some capacity, Richard Compton. A man fitting Compton's description was seen with Plato at the time Gayle went missing. Compton however died a miserable death.... he was homeless and died of sepsis and cirrhosis of the liver some years ago. While justice can not be served, hopefully, the answers will provide Gayle's family the peace they've sought for so long.
At the time of Gayle's disappearance, she had been working at two bars, The Beer Keg in Battle Creek and the Redwood Inn in Augusta. She was last seen between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. at Speed's Koffee Shop at 1425 West Michigan Avenue. She left with a dark-haired man. She wasn't seen again until her body was discovered 16 days later on Oct. 25, 1988, by hunters in Emmett Township.
Upon learning the news the family of Gayle Barrus issued the following statement:
32 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days
I am excited to report that a DNA MATCH HAS BEEN FOUND! Forgive the vernacular, but my understanding is that 1 in 770 trillion and 1 in 1.3 billion DNA parts matched, respectively, to ROGER PLATO. There is NO DOUBT…NO MORE inconclusive tests…NO MORE waiting on the answer. GOD IS GREAT!
Mom’s case is the prosecutor’s signature away from being CLOSED!!!
There will not be a trial, because Roger Plato was shot and killed by a detective from BCPD just a couple of days before my mother’s body was found. His accomplice, Richard Compton, likely would have been charged with accessory after the fact, and obstruction of justice, at a minimum…but we believe he was at the scene that night…perhaps he assisted in some way. Compton has been deceased for some time…he was homeless and died of sepsis and cirrhosis of the liver…their stories are highlighted in other posts on this page.
I have expressed my doubts about Plato and Compton’s involvement, predominately due to the numerous dead ends and brick walls that were continually hit by our detective, coupled with the lack of pertinent details that could not be shared with me due to the active investigation. Last month Detective Marshall received a 32-year-old vial of Roger Plato’s blood from the county sheriff’s office and promptly turned it over to Michigan State Police for testing. I was informed of the vial being located but held off reporting it due to the numerous issues we had with previous samples that had been tested. Plato’s DNA had eluded BCPD, because he was shot and killed by a detective two days before mother’s body was found. He was subsequently cremated. DNA was still in its infancy in 1988...and not very well understood, but it is very well understood today, and I knew that we would reach this milestone one day!
I have so many people to thank, but most importantly I am grateful for the continued efforts of Detective Scott Marshall of the BCPD and his relentless pursuit of answers in solving this case. Not only did he weather the dead ends, coordinated with numerous law enforcement offices around the state and country, and conducted an exhumation, but he weathered me…and I applaud his patience and professionalism as I maintained regular contact, held hearty conversations and respectful disagreement, and occasionally he was on the receiving end of my frustration as I sought more answers than he was able to give. I am forever humbled and indebted to this man…
A weight has been lifted off our shoulders. This answer was one that so many of us have waited for…and I have been an emotional wreck this afternoon. I cannot express the feelings that have engulfed me, but they are all to be celebrated and embraced.
When the weather warms, perhaps in early April, I would like as many family and friends to meet with me at her grave site to let her know how grateful we are for the fine work that detective Scott Marshall conducted…giving her a voice from beyond and answering the question that eluded us for so long.