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Posted on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Part one: 'Bad to the bone' ex leaves cops, coed guessing next move

By Rich Kinsey

Editor's note: This column has been updated to correct a factual error.

Crystal was bad to the bone. She was perhaps the most fiendish woman any of us had ever arrested. Her story is probably more book length, but I will try to explain just how nasty Crystal was and how strange her story was in two columns — part one this week, part two next.

The Ann Arbor Police Department Special Investigations Unit, or SIU, was working a target on Ridge Road on the east side of the county. I have no recollection who the target was or what we were watching for, because the events that started to unfold eclipsed whatever investigation that had been.

I was meeting with a Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Investigator—now a Commander—and one of my dearest friends in law enforcement whose nickname was “Cannon.” Cannon was the Sheriff’s afternoon detective working that evening and we met to talk about SIU’s current target and to share a couple of laughs.

Cannon and I parked next to each other and were joking around when he was called by dispatch. The Washtenaw County dispatcher said the fire department fighting a house fire was requesting a detective because they had found a dead body inside their scene.

Fatal house fires require a detective assigned with fire investigators. We did not know it then, but a pair of seemingly unrelated major investigations, undertaken by several Washtenaw County police departments, were spinning together.

The jokes stopped, the game faces came on and I told Cannon to call if he needed any assistance. With that, Cannon headed off toward the fatal fire.

The fatal fire turned out to be a middle-aged, mild mannered, law abiding, computer analyst or programmer who lived alone. He had been found by the fire department in his home. The victim had been bound with duct tape and the house fire appeared to have been set to cover up the murder.

The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s office would later find that the victim had been bound and then beaten to death with a blunt object. He died several days prior to the fire. It was later learned by investigators, that several individuals, one of which had been Crystal, had beaten the poor guy with a flashlight.

Crystal was convinced the computer guy had a large stash of cash in his home—although she had never been able to find it when she stayed with the guy about a year earlier. The victim had been in love with Crystal until she looted every dime she could from him, ran up all his credit cards, bought a car on the victim’s money and split for parts unknown with a new lover.

The homicide victim just happened to be something of a computer genius. When Crystal broke his heart, took him for lots of money and left the state—the victim started communicating using his computer on a then brand new communications tool called the Internet. At the time most cops had not heard of the Internet. More importantly only the largest, most technologically advance police departments had an Internet connection. Those agencies were receiving the victim’s information about Crystal and sending it out to other agencies around their perspective states.

Meanwhile the University of Michigan had a rather bizarre incident that happened at about the same time as Cannon’s fatal fire.

Two teenage girls had gone to Baits Hall looking for a student who was a vocal music major. This particular music major was a beautiful young woman with incredibly long, thick hair. The coed recently had returned to U-M after being publicly humiliated on national television by a former lover she previously had run off with to Arizona.

The two teenagers asked the music major if she was the woman with the great voice they had heard about. The coed smiled and said she was. The teenagers asked if they could come into her dorm room and hear her sing. The music major was happy to invite the young girls in.

The teenagers locked the door behind them and became menacing. They had been sent by the music major’s ex-lover with a mission. The younger girls had been sent to smash the coed’s computer—an expensive item back then—and cut off all the coed’s long hair.

The first part of the mission was completed and the coed with the beautiful long tresses begged the teenagers not to cut her hair. She was able to convince her youthful assailants to merely cut a long braid and take it back to the ex-lover. The singer reasoned with the scissor toting teens they could not carry all her hair anyway, so why not just cut a long braid and take that back to the one who sent them. That is exactly what the teens did.

The singer immediately reported the incident to the University of Michigan Police Department (UMPD). She told the police just how fiendish and sociopathic her ex-lover was. The coed was terrified of her ex and needed help because “Crystal” was crazy and mean.

The UMPD, working with the coed and her parents, immediately moved her out of her ground floor dormitory room in Bursley Hall, to another dorm room on North Campus. The police then set about finding Crystal and identifying her minions.

It turned out that moving the music major out of her ground floor dorm room saved her life. Crystal was incensed about the failure of the girls to shave the music major bald. Crystal decided to kill the music major while she slept.

A night or two after the music major had moved out of the dorm room she had been attacked in, someone threw a firebomb into the now vacant room. The resulting fire was extinguished but caused a temporary evacuation and $30,000 of damage.

About 1 p.m. the day after the dorm fire, I got a call from my bosses at the Ann Arbor Police Department to immediately report to UMPD for a meeting. I was surprised to find Cannon and several Sheriff’s investigators at UMPD when I arrived. They filled in the blanks and had a job for the SIU surveillance unit.

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for



Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

This happened in the mid 1990s. Dale was sentenced before 1997-98 when his appeal was rejected.

Mike D.

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 4:05 a.m.

Rich, you remembered one detail wrong: The dorm was Baits, not Bursley. I am quite sure of this, as I dropped the intended victim off at her new room the night of the fire bombing.

Cendra Lynn

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

A pretty thorough search of Google and the MI Daily brings up no such fire at Bursley. So I also have doubts about the story. However, in 1991 the internet was NOT in widespread and comman use. At that point one had to self-wrap and address every email. The FBI local computer unit was not begun until after 2/1994 and the local police departments were way behind them.

Mike D.

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 4:03 a.m.

Rich remembered wrong. It was Bates, right across from NCRB. I dropped the intended victim off there the night her former room was fire bombed.

Mike D.

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 3:37 a.m.

I was friends with Crystal and Dale, one of her conspirators in the murder and arson. I am still friends with the singer, whose name I won't mention out of respect for her privacy. I appreciate that you also haven't mentioned her name; she is living a happy, normal life now out of state. And in exchange for that, I won't give away the rest of the story, but I will say it still makes me sad. There is no fairy tale ending. What's amazing, and what you couldn't know, is how Crystal charmed a wide circle of friends at U of M at that time. She was attractive, well educated, well spoken, assertive, and seemed to be a model of a strong woman. Her meltdown haunts me to this day. Could we have known she was totally bonkers? Until she went on her rampage, we just figured she was a little high strung.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

The victim was a colleague and a good friend. To this is day, there is a group of us that have a toast every September in his memory.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Didn't the first crime, the beating and death with arson in the aftermath take place on Hickman Rd. off of Geddes?

Mike D.

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 3:41 a.m.

I don't know if it was Hickman Road, but I remember that it was off Geddes east of town.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Sounds like her name is Crystal, Crystal Meth


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Those were the days when men were men, mostly.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Is this a true story? What year did it take place? The only firebombing incident at Bursley I can find reference to happened in the 80s. And it was on the 6th floor, not ground. Is this like one of those gumshoe detective episodes? The ones with the dames that look like trouble and have gams that go all the way up?


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Yes, it's a true story. It occurred in 1995. My spouse knew the person who was murdered and actually met Crystal once.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

Yes, this is a true story. I have secondhand knowledge of these events, which have been verified with stories from the Michigan Daily and the now-defunct Ann Arbor News.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Wish you'd write a book of short stories Rich!

Richard Carter

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Lock it up, don't leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors... and don't tell half of an incredible story and leave everyone hanging.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

If I miss part 2, I'm coming back for you. Can't wait! Crystal


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

So is Cristal the lover of the singer or a hitperson? Is Cristal a man or a woman? I can't keep this straight...

Mike D.

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

TNB, that's mostly right, but the murder of the man (who was not young) was after they returned from Arizona. The accomplice in the murder, Dale Lipke, had nothing to do with the other intended victim, the female singer.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

After reading this a couple times... After killing the young man, Crystal left for "parts unknown", presumably with the female U of M music major. After that relationship ended, and she returned to A2, the UM woman was then the target of Crystal's wrath. Crystal was the lover of both the man she killed, and the woman she tried to kill?!

Ed Kimball

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Like you, I had trouble figuring out Crystal's connection to the singer. While Jeanette's assumption seems plausible, the story should really explain the connection.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

The article states Crystal ran off with another guy after breaking the computer guy's heart. I assumed the "other guy" was the singers ex-boyfriend from Arizona who humiliated her.

Rabid Wolverine

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

From what I could understand Crystal was a female who took the computer dude for everything he was worth than ran off with the singer to Arizona where Crystal dumped her...and for some reason sent two girls to menace the singer a little while later....?


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

The story states "At the time most cops had not heard of the Internet. More importantly only the largest, most technologically advance police departments had an Internet connection. And yet the story also states that UMPD was involved. The UMPD was formed in '90 or '91, a time when the Internet was in widespread and common usage. Just as in when you are questioning a perp and such a blatant inconsistency is given it then puts the rest of the story in doubt.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

No were not using the internet through Compuserve, Prodigy, or AOL....not in are confused about that for sure. Those of us who were on "the internet" back then had local ISPs here to provide that....IC.Net was one of them....headed by Vadim. It turned into 20/20 I believe but I'm not sure if Vadim is still involved with any of it. Those of us that were that far along with tech were also the ones that later got ISDN lines and in some cases were selected to be betatesters for the first inception of cable modems....a one way system called Roadrunner.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

I don't know where all of you were in 1990 but I was here in AA AND on the Internet. OK, it was Prodigy and Compuserve but I was still sending and receiving email and uploading / downloading files. And that was the internet, Al Gore told me so! And for those of you who think cops don't lie I have more news for you; Priests don't molest young boys.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

In 1990 compuserve and prodigy were just like AOhell in that they were a glorified BBS. They were self-contained services. They didn't open the floodgates until sometime in 1993 that allowed all the newbies access to the web, USENET....the internet.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

It obviously wasn't that common before the mid 90's.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Compuserve and Prodigy were on dial-up back and '90 and were commonly used by my friends and neighbors.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

90 or 91 was widespread internet usage? I think not. Not even close really. The internet wasn't "widespread" until Eternal September....and you can thank AOL for that.

Dave Koziol

Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

The internet wasn't in widespread use in '90 and '91. During the summer of '90, I worked for Merit monitoring NSFNet, the US internet backbone. It consisted of T1 lines running at 1.5 Mbit/s between 13 other networks around the country. If you weren't connected with a major university, or a big high tech company it was pretty unlikely that you had an internet connection in those days. NCSA Mosaic development didn't begin until very late in 1992...


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

yohan.......Two things.1- Mr. Kinsey is known for his lying ( sarcasm ) and 2- not sure what planet you are from but the internet was not common and wide spread in '90 or '91 as Al Gore had not invented it yet ( really, he did just ask him ) Wikki is less than the best source but


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

The internet's first major growth was around 1994. Sure, people used it before then, but that's when the everyman got it. His story checks out.


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!!!! Richard!!! You don't go telling a story like that and then just walk off..... GET BACK HERE!!! YOU FINISH THIS AWESOME STORY RIGHT NOW!!!!


Thu, Oct 4, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

We have to wait a whole week for the conclusion!! Not fair...