Investigators solve ’06 cold-case murder

The scene where Starkinya Vance's body found in 2006. (Nov. 23, 2006)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Kent County investigators say they’ve solved a 2006 cold case involving a woman who was murdered in Grand Rapids.

The Kent Metro Cold Case Team named 47-year-old Anthony Curtis Gundy as the man responsible for the murder of Starkinya Vance, 28, according to a release from the cold case team.

Starkinya Vance. (undated courtesy)
(Starkinya Vance – undated courtesy)

Vance’s body was found in a parkway in the area of New Avenue SW and Grant Street SW on Thanksgiving Day in 2006, investigators said. She had been strangled.

“Nobody deserves what happened to this girl,” Kent Metro Cold Case Det. Sgt. Sally Wolter said.

Several months after Vance’s body was found, crime lab officials determined that DNA found on Vance’s body belonged to Gundy, according to police. Gundy was interviewed by Grand Rapids police, but he denied knowing anything about Vance or ever having met her.

Anthony Curtis Gundy (Undated courtesy)
(Anthony Curtis Gundy – undated courtesy)

Investigators pursued all the leads they had, but the case eventually went cold.

“This case eventually went cold, not forgotten,” Wolter said.

Vance’s death never left the mind of the detective who worked it. When he joined the Kent Metro Cold Case Team, he brought it up. In 2012, the team picked up the case.

Investigators were able to use surveillance video to link the vehicle that Vance was seen getting into hours before her death to Gundy, police said.

Investigators then presented their case, including all of the evidence found by police in 2006, to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. After review, the prosecutor’s office determined that “in all reasonable likelihood,” Gundy murdered Vance, the release said.

But there will be no day in court.

Gundy was in his 40s at the time of the murder. In 2007, he died of a respiratory illness.

Still, Wolter believes that what the cold case team does brings closure to victims’ families.

“I think at night when they close their eyes, they’re looking for answers, and I think they have them now and I think that gives them just as much peace knowing that,” Wolter said.

Vance’s homicide is the 16th homicide that the Kent Metro Cold Case Team, which includes detectives from Michigan State Police, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and the Grand Rapids Police Department, has solved since it began in 2006.

But the team’s future is uncertain.

It is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice that has run out. The team is hoping for a renewal.

“We have become one of the nation’s most successful cold case teams,” Wolter said.

Still, there is more to do.

“There’s many on the table.” Wolter said. “We’ve got some good things in the works.”

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