Sister of Lankey murder suspect sentenced

Candace Wallis-Baumgartner (March 17, 2014)

WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (WOOD) – Nearly a decade after Amanda Lankey disappeared, her mom hopes a plea deal on Monday could finally lead to answers.

“Wouldn’t that be something?” Victoria Foster said after Monday’s court hearing. “We’ve been trying. Every year we say, ‘This is the year. This is the year.'”

Foster flew from Florida for Monday’s hearing involving the sister of the suspect in Amanda’s death.

Candace Baumgartner-Wallis, a former police officer, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to detectives — a lie that had nothing to do with Amanda’s murder. As part of the plea deal, she agreed to no longer work at the Department of Human Services in Newaygo County.

Monday, Judge Terrence R. Thomas sentenced Baumgartner-Wallis to 30 consecutive weekends in jail and, most importantly for Amanda’s family, ordered her take a polygraph test about the murder.

“For my family, it’s the polygraph test, because maybe something will come of it,” Foster said. “Maybe there’s something that will help us in Amanda’s case.

“Just for them to sit down with her one-on-one and for her to answer the questions,” Foster continued. “Hopefully, they’re answered truthfully. We’ve been waiting a long time.”

Amanda was 13 years old when she vanished from a friend’s house in White Cloud in June of 2004. Her body was found two weeks later in the Manistee National Forest. She died of blows to the head, according to an autopsy.

Amanda Lankey
Amanda Lankey

Baumgartner-Wallis was a White Cloud police officer at the time of the homicide.

Her brother Cecil Wallis committed suicide in 2011 while in jail, shortly after he was charged with sexually assaulting two other girls.

Cecil Wallis was never charged in Amanda’s death, but a detective working the case told Target 8 he thinks Wallis killed Amanda and that family members helped him get away with it.

Baumgartner-Wallis was charged with perjury for two alleged lies to police while being questioned under an investigative subpoena.

One alleged lie involved whether she had been asked to cross a crime tape and help at the scene where Lankey’s body was found. That perjury charge was dropped.

She pleaded guilty to lying about whether she had falsified a police report involving her brother’s 1999 drunken driving case.

“I feel in my heart that she knows something,” Amanda’s mother said. “That’s a very close-knit family. They look after each other.”

Baumgartner-Wallis’s son, Marcus Wallis, faces similar charges

Amanda’s mom said she is convinced Cecil Wallis killed her daughter.

“If it was Cecil, we’ll never be able to put him in prison, but at least our family will get to know exactly what happened to Amanda, you know? We deserve that,” she said. “I believe there were others that might have known or might have helped move her into the forest. We’d like to know that.”

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