GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s been nearly 27 years since a 34-year-old Grand Rapids woman was killed after going out for a walk in Riverside Park. Her murderer still on the loose.
Wednesday, September 4, marks the anniversary date of when Bonita “Bonnie” Oom disappeared.
Her clothes were found in Riverside Park, and her body was located miles away in Cannon Township.
“I heard her coming down the stairs, and that was the last time anybody saw or heard her,” said Christie Selzer, Oom’s former landlord.
Selzer said she was making coffee in the downstairs kitchen of her home on Knapp Street when she heard her tenant of eight years coming down the steps for her morning walk.
“She walked every single morning,” said Oom. “She’d go down to Riverside Park, and she walked out all the way out West River Drive, and she just didn’t come back one day.”
Selzer said Bonnie’s clothes were found in Riverside Park. Then, a few days later, her body was found miles away off Ramsdell Drive in rural Kent County in what is now the Pickerel Park area.
A resident who lived near Pickerel Lake found the body.
The Grand Rapids Press reported in 1986 that Oom had been beaten and stabbed.
As far as cold cases go, Detective Sgt. Sally Wolter of the Kent Metro Cold Case Team said this one has been tough. ”She had no enemies,” said Wolter. “There was no altercations that we had that we know, and so this case has really been troubling to the police and obviously to her family, who had to live with this for the last 27 years.”
The Metro Cold Case Team reopened the Oom file in 2012, and they’ve been working on it since, Wolter said,
Selzer said suspicion first fell on her now-deceased ex-husband who had been out of town at the time. ”They were looking at my ex-husband, but he was up north in the U.P. bear hunting,” said Selzer. “There’s no cell phones back then, so there was no way to get a hold of him.”
Selzer also said a search warrant indicated that Oom had tar on her body when she was found, another clue.
She said detectives searched their home, but there were no final answers.
“They got all excited, because they found blood in the garage, and I said,’Well yeah, of course. It’s deer blood, because we hang deer there from hunting up north,’” said Selzer. “But, I mean, they were looking at boots and everything else, which was really strange because they looked at every single pair of my husband’s boots and found absolutely nothing,”
Selzer said she first suspected Oom’s boyfriend, who was married at the time.
“Her throat was slit; that was never reported,” said Selzer. “Also, that knife disappeared and showed back up again, and he was the only other person with a key to the house besides us.”
She’s hoping the cold case detectives can finally figure out exactly what happened to Oom on the anniversary of when she went missing.
“I hope they find whoever did it. It’s got to be at least two people, she wasn’t a weakling,” said Selzer. “I want justice for her. I mean, for Pete’s sake. You can’t get away with just murdering somebody.”
If you have any information regarding the disappearance or murder of Bonita Oom, contact Silent Observer at 616-774-2345 or 866-774-2345 or the Metro Cold Case team.