You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Police directing 'every available resource' toward investigating death of U-M medical student

By Kyle Feldscher

Update: Air Force and U-M Police to assist AAPD in investigation of medical student's death

Details continue to emerge around the death of Paul DeWolf, the 25-year-old University of Michigan medical student found dead in Ann Arbor last week in a possible homicide.

Thumbnail image for DeWolf_Psm.jpg

Paul DeWolf

Ann Arbor police Detective Lt. Robert Pfannes said detectives are putting in long shifts investigating the case and are still doing interviews with those who knew DeWolf. Every investigator who can be spared is working on the case, he said.

“We’ve directed every available resource at this case,” Pfannes said.

DeWolf was found dead Wednesday from a single gunshot wound in his room at the Phi Rho Sigma medical fraternity in the 200 block of North Ingalls Street. Police are investigating the case as a homicide.

DeWolf was a 2010 graduate of Grand Valley State University and was entering his fourth and final year of medical school. He was set to graduate in May and then enter the United States Air Force. He was a second lieutenant in the Air Force and was currently a reservist.

Pfannes said DeWolf lived by himself in a room in the building’s basement. According to friends, DeWolf had lived in the co-educational fraternity house since he started at U-M.

According to the Phi Rho Sigma website, the building houses 26 men and women attending the medical school. It’s unknown how many people were home at the time of DeWolf’s death, but there were residents in the home.

U-M homicide investigation continues

Police continue to investigate the death of a U-M medical student

Pfannes repeated investigators’ findings that DeWolf’s room did not appear disheveled when detectives entered on Wednesday.

“It was orderly and nothing appeared to be taken,” he said.

Police and medical examiner officials could not immediately tell what kind of injury DeWolf suffered when he was found on Wednesday. It took until an autopsy performed Thursday for officials to determine DeWolf was killed by a single gunshot wound.

Pfannes said he couldn’t say if investigators determined what type of bullet was used in the shooting or if a shell casing was found at the scene. However, he said the autopsy report is ongoing — medical examiners are still doing a toxicology report on DeWolf’s body, as a part of standard procedure, Pfannes said.

“The medical examiner has its own protocols in a suspicious death,” he said.

Police actually responded to the 200 block of North Ingalls Street the night before DeWolf was found dead after a home invasion was reported on the street.

Investigators responded at 8:30 p.m. July 23 to the block for a report of a home invasion. The incident took place at a different home in the block, Pfannes said.

Police are continuing to investigate that incident. Pfannes said detectives are aware of it and are keeping an open mind to any links between that incident and DeWolf’s death.

To this point, the Ann Arbor Police Department is the only agency investigating DeWolf’s death. Pfannes said he’s had contact with officials from the United States Air Force, but they are not assisting in the investigation at this time.

Family and friends attended DeWolf’s funeral in Portage Monday morning. He will be buried at Fort Custer National Cemetery, according to a post regarding funeral information on his Facebook page.

It appeared DeWolf was acting normally in the days before his death. Friends said they spoke with him by phone on July 23 and he sent his sister, Rebekah, birthday wishes on Facebook on July 21.

On Wednesday, DeWolf was scheduled for an assignment at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. According to the hospital’s website, more than 800 students and residents from the U-M Medical School train at the hospital every year.

DeWolf was working on a general surgery rotation at the VA hospital as a part of his studies at the medical school. The one-month rotations allow just one day off per week. DeWolf planned on being a surgeon when he graduated from the medical school.

When he didn’t show up on Wednesday morning, a colleague was sent to Phi Rho Sigma and found him. It’s a medical school policy to send someone to check on a student who hasn’t shown up for a shift, hasn’t given a reason for tardiness and can’t be reached by phone.

Hospital public affairs officer Derek Atkinson declined to go into too much detail about DeWolf’s work at the hospital Monday.

"Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are with the DeWolf family as they mourn the loss of their loved one, Paul," Atkinson said in an email. "There is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Ann Arbor Police Department so we have to politely decline comment at this time."

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Jul 31, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

I am surprised about the very little information that has been released about this homicide investigation. I appreciate the policy of the Medical School and its value can be easily discerned by the unfortunate discovery made when it dispatched a person to physically verify the condition of a person who missed reporting to work. It may not be correct to point fingers in the direction of his social contacts and yet it is not reasonable to assume that an unknown stranger would commit a crime without seeking some benefit.


Wed, Jul 31, 2013 : 5:27 a.m.

Let me begin by saying how absolutely heartbreaking this young mans death is. I cannot imagine the hellish experience the family is going through and my thoughts and prayers are with them as they try and carry on in the wake of this tragedy. I must say that just from the information that's been released, It seems highly unlikely that this was a B & E gone bad. While basement windows can be entry points for home invasions, the way police describe the initial scene just does not seem indicative of a home invasion gone amiss. In fact, I imagine the police probably already know whether it was a B and E or not, just by examining the position of the deceased, the location, and angle of the bullet wound, whether there was any powder residue on the victim etc. The fact that police seemed to indicate that there was only one bullet wound in the victim, that the victim was not able to alert others in the house (suggesting it was quickly mortal) all suggests that the killer was at an exceptionally close distance (again, can be inferred from the location and position of bullet wound and the location/position of the victim.) I don't at all find it suprising that his housemates did not hear any disturbance or gunshot. Apart from the fact that his room was apparently in the basement, a small caliber firearm (22 or 25 caliber) may have been used, or his housemates might simply have associated the sound with a care backfireing or a firecracker, or may have simply been asleep or listening to music. Bottom line Just from whats been released thus far, my professional opinion is that that the murder knew the victim and that this pre-meditated and thoughtfully executed. Obviously the police will already have a pretty clear idea as to whether this was pre-meditated homicide or a b and e gone ary and so I'm speculating on whats already known to investigators. in all cases, its a terrible terrible tragedy.


Wed, Jul 31, 2013 : 3:32 a.m.

I personally am starting to become pessimistic that this case will be solved. Looks like the victim interrupted a break in and got shot in the process. The lack of any signs of a robbery might just reflect a decision by the killer to abort the robbery after realizing he just committed a murder. Finding a suspect of this nature is just not that likely without any video or witness to help.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

This story has made the UK Daily News today with more news and pictures:

Blue Marker

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 6 p.m.

About the same age as my son and at the same school. I can't stop thinking about the family, especially the parents. I hope they are able to find peace some day. No one should have to lay their child to rest.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

"every available resource" except perhaps some members of the public with expertise. I am a pathologist and I have reviewed some of the autopsies performed by our Medical Examiner and looked at some of his cases in Milwaukee and there are some questionable calls (to be polite). I don't think it would be a bad idea to take a second look at this autopsy but we cannot do that because the ME's office will deny any FOIA requests for this case because it is an open investigation. Even if it isn't solved for years, they will deny the request to review the autopsy. I would like to know the circumstances as to why they couldn't see a bullet hole without doing an autopsy. I suspect that statment may be a bit misleading (e.g. the hole was underneath some clothing, which wasn't removed until the autopsy).


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

This whole thing tears me up. I hate violence.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Police directing 'every available resource' toward investigating death of U-M medical student, Why isnt this the case for any crime? Once again your headline isnt very PC for the current enviroment in society. Am I the only one who gets " special treatment" from the headline?


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Hondo, this isn't special treatment, this is a Medical Student murdered, in his off campus residence/frat house. This isn't a drug deal gone bad, or a case of domestic violence (where it is presumed the offender is known - not discounting any violent crime). Its not Possession of Marijuana, or Drunk & Disorderly! It is special when you have a large population of young people here to get their formal education and they end up dead for no apparent reason, makes the entire population nervous not just the students. As a parent of a Med Student, I am very glad they are taking this very seriously.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

Well, please tell us if you are aware of other possible homicides in Ann Arbor which were NOT handled with every possible resource. And no, I would not expect this to be "the case for any crime." Priorities. The pumpkin taken from my front porch would not receive the same attention that this possible homicide should have.

Trevor Baker

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Blows my mind that people were "home" someone shot Paul, someone must have heard something or seen someone... Hope the police can get to the bottom of this. This is messed up.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Also possibility of headphones or deep sleep if they were other residents.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

He was also in the basement so that would add some layers of noise reduction. If the other residents were on the top floor or on the other side of the house it is possible they did not hear it or thought it was a book falling off the shelf or something like that

Nick Treeville

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

A silencer would quell the noise of a gunshot. This clearly was not a robbery or a random killing. Draw your own conclusion.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Aren't there any cameras at the entrance or inside the residence where he lived? When a female student was killed in an EMU dorm a few years ago, cameras inside the dorm were key to catching, prosecuting, and convicting the person who did it. It would seem to make sense to have them. They wouldn't have to be reviewed unless a crime occurred, and could be deleted after a certain amount of time.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

@Jake- This is a fraternity. The landlords are the members of the fraternity.

Jake C

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

This appears to be a standard off-campus fraternity/multi-student housing building. It's not managed by the University. Very few off-campus student housing buildings that are not apartment complexes have such camera systems, for several reasons:. 1) It's a relatively expensive installation, with the cost absorbed by the landlord, which requires periodic upkeep to make sure everything is actually functioning properly. 2) The computer hardware for such a camera system generally needs to be stored on site, which is not always easy to do with student housing. 2) Many students may not want their day-to-day activities being recorded by a system that their landlord has access to.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

IVote - I don't remember seeing any cameras at the fraternity, and neither does my colleague John Counts, who also went over there. That doesn't mean there aren't any, but I don't recall seeing any obvious ones.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Sad to say, but A2 Police would be wise bringing in some help; whether that be the State Police, FBI or even the DPD. Lord knows the DPD has a lot of practice investigating homicides and they would bring some much needed expertise to the situation. the problem at hand is that A2 rarely ever sees a homicide, so their police force is ill equipped to handle it. Sorry. Just stating a fact and a reality check!


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

A2 has investigated possible homicide a few times this year and one on south-sides but think found it was not a homicide.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Isn't it therefore reasonable to ask: just who told you that AAPD hasn't "bothered" to or at least considered contacting the agencies you list? And thanks for "handling" the matter of AAPD's investigative capabilities for us. And just FYI: the Michigan State Police make available to local law enforcement an array of expertise and investigative tools. FBI? Surely you're joking - try looking up the areas of jurisdiction and responsibilities for the FBI. Next you'll be telling us the AAPD hasn't brought in the CIA.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Might not want to get DPD involved, they have a dismal rate for solving crimes: "Criminals think of Detroit as a thug's Disneyland because odds favor their getting away with violent crime. Kim Worthy observed: 'The reality is. we have a reputation in this state that if you want to commit a crime, come here.', 9/10/09. 'The chance of arrest is quite low, the chance of prosecution is quite low.' At most, 70 of the 362 homicides committed in 2008 resulted in convictions for murder or manslaughter. The closure rate is a miserable 33-35%, compared to a national average of 62%, over the same time period, according to the FBI."

Resident A2

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

"Details continue to emerge around the death of Paul DeWolf, the 25-year-old University of Michigan medical student found dead in Ann Arbor last week in a possible homicide." Maybe this is a silly question, but how could it be anything other than a homicide (the article states "possible"? It certainly couldn't have been a suicide with no gun found on the premises. Just wondering...........

Resident A2

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Jake C - thanks for your explanation. I guess I can see your point.

Jake C

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

We're delving dangerously into speculation territory here, but it is possible for a hypothetical person to shoot themself with a gun, and for someone else to come across the scene and remove the gun for a multitude of reasons. That's exactly why police are expected to conduct thorough investigations, and not just to jump to the logical conclusions.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

I think we'd better settle down and rein in our expectations a bit. Lets face it: the details of this case won't come to light until someone is arrested and put on trial. It may be months before that happens.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Great comment, Tru2Blu. We're reporting as much information as we can get as soon as we can get it, but it could be a while before all the facts come out.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Thank you for keeping everyone informed. It is very important in such tragic and seemingly senseless cases for everyone to have as much information as the investigation will everyone can feel they have some power to make sense of the seemingly senseless and have the power to do even small things to protect themselves appropriately. Thank you.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Thank you very much, Wondering, for your kind words. You are very welcome.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Our sincere condolences to the DeWolf family as they mourn the loss of their precious son. My own son is at UofM, entering his third year in the School of Nursing, (just up the block from the house that Paul lived in) and competes on the Mens Track and Field team. Should we as parents be advising our children to be aware of anything in particular? Is there anything we can do? It is very unsettling. Thank you for keeping us informed.

Jake C

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

Probably the simplest advice is from local cop writer Rich Kinsey: "Lock it up, don't leave it unattended, be aware, and watch out for your neighbors."


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Moondancer, we told our daughter to take the regular precautions and then some! You cannot help but worry when they have no clue as to WHY this happened, meaning we don't know if it was random or someone who knew him. The major thing for us, was to advise her and her 2 female roommates to LOCK the door EVERYTIME. Don't care if Susie is gonna be home in 5 minutes, lock it and then let her in when she arrives, or she can let herself in! Keep your car locked and check the back seat before you get in, etc. Regular precautions with vigilance and attention to your surroundings. No half stepping or getting lazy about your personal security was stressed, and of course you can call Dad & Mom ANYTIME you need to, but its gonna take us 30 minutes to get there, so call the police first if you get scared or into a situation that warrants the police to help you. It makes me so sad that this young adult was going to be a huge contribution to our society, and it was all taken away for some unknown reason.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Erin Gignac, from our colleagues at the Kalamazoo Gazette, was at Paul DeWolf's funeral yesterday in Portage. Here's her report:

Mr. Ed

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

You need to arm yourself after the 10 minute responce time in the Scio home invasion this is yet another good reason to have a gun in the home. Dont be a victim!


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

Would someone of his military stature have a gun in his possession? I have no idea, so I am just asking.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

Also, we don't know if someone being armed to protect against a home invasion is why this young man was shot. At any rate, why does every single article on a crime have to turn into an advertisement for weapons?


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

We have no idea whether he was armed or not.

Max Peters

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

Perhaps I watch too much TV, but why did it take an autopsy to figure out that he had been shot?


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

@Kyle- That response, per police, is designed to be cryptic. Even if they couldn't tell it was a bullet (e.g. it could be an ice pick), they could say the apparent cause of death was a penetrating would to the chest. @Mr. Ed- an autopsy is routine in a case like this but the law actually only requires that the death be reported to the Medical Examiner. It is up to the ME to decide if he wants an autopsy.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

It's a good question, but it's nothing like you see on TV. Both police and even medical examiners sometimes miss bullet wounds. See


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

They have to make thing "official"


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Mr. Peter: remember, when Pres. Reagan was shot, they (and even he) didn't know he'd been shot until after several minutes on the way back to the White House. He was then diverted and rushed to the hospital but the delay in discovering he was shot almost resulted in his death. That was on TV, by the way. :-) And when an otherwise fit and healthy 25 year-old male is found dead, it's customary to have an autopsy. They would have done this regardless if the victim had a visible bullet hole in an exposed area. Don't feel badly though: the majority of people lack depth of knowledge concerning such things. The last thing you should use as a source of such knowledge is movies and tv shows. Those are truly for entertainment only.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Mr. Ed that wasn't Max's question anyway; he wasn't asking why they did an autopsy, but why it couldn't be determined there was a gunshot wound until the autopsy. Kyle in return gave a logical answer to the situation. Which is better than poorly proofread snark.

Mr. Ed

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

An autopset is required by law, look it up.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Max - At the scene, it was difficult to determine what caused the wound, per police.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

Thank you for keeping the community updated.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Thank you for the kind words, medgar. We'll stay on this.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

one does wonder with an "invasion", as in burglary/attempted burglary/armed robbery[or not]....could that fact, with the logical addition of police or security presence in the vicinity could have helped to prevent this horrific incident. It sounds too coincidental. Now what exactly is a home invasion ,


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5 p.m.

It does make one wonder about the home invasion on the same night, especially since his room is in the basement and that is typically a point of entry in home invasions. I disagree with the speculation about prevention though. Was it a full moon that night or something, police also arrested someone in Liberty Plaza for using a "blunt object" to harm a teen (per


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

mtlaurel: I'm with you on this issue. Regardless of the source or justification for including the property crime called "burglary" - the root of that word is Old French "bergier" = pillage. Contrasting with: "home invasion" which includes the word "invasion." There are variations given but the primary definition used is: armed intrusion into an occupied area. (be it a country, or any "area" including occupied dwellings) That's not to say that the DeWolf case involved a home invasion, although that seems likely. We can only guess that police are taking that possibility into account. But the shooter could have been known to the victim and we know that there are many instances of friends (and relatives) killing other friends (and relatives). IMO: it's not really relevant (at this stage) to speculate about the value of any protective agents (police, security) in preventing this apparent homicide. We are forced to wait and see.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

In addition to Kyle's definition, "occupied home" means any structure used as a "place of abode"; the resident(s) do not have to be present for a "home invasion" to occur. Here's a link to the Michigan statute with the definitions.

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

mtlaurel - Police didn't release specific details on this incident because it's still open, but home invasion encompasses someone breaking into an occupied home with a weapon, someone breaking into an occupied home and someone breaking into an unoccupied home and stealing items.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 10:34 a.m.

"According to the Phi Rho Sigma website, the building houses 26 men and women attending the medical student.". medical school...

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Good catch, that's fixed, thanks.