GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The 18-year-old pregnant woman whose body was discovered the day after her boyfriend was found dead was strangled, her father said.
Brooke Slocum’s body was found in the trunk of Brady Oestrike’s crashed car on Burton Street at US-131 after he shot and killed himself following a police chase Thursday night, according to Wyoming police. She was 8 months pregnant. Her unborn baby did not survive.
The body of 25-year-old Charles Oppenneer — Slocum’s boyfriend and the father of her child — was found by officers in Wyoming’s Gezon Park on Wednesday. Police said Thursday they were concerned about Slocum, who had last been seen with her boyfriend leaving their Grand Rapids apartment on the night of July 12, and that they were looking for her.
After searching for Slocum near Gezon Park on Thursday, her family members took a wrong turn on their way home and drove by the crash scene where Oestrike shot himself and Slocum’s body was found.
“As soon as we crossed that Burton Street overpass, my heart fell into my stomach, and I knew my baby was up there,” Slocum’s father Greg Slocum told 24 Hour News 8 Sunday.
About an hour later, he got a call confirming his suspicions.
“To see my baby laying in that road, covered in a yellow tarp pulled out of that man’s trunk, is the most horrifying experience any parent can ever imagine. And we need to put a stop to this,” he said.
Police have not released information to the public about how or when Oppenneer and Slocum died, and said Friday they had not yet identified a motive in the homicides.
Officials have said that Oestrike met Slocum via Craigslist.
Greg Slocum described his daughter as caring.
“She would get McDonald’s for the homeless people and she had no money,” he said.
But, Greg Slocum said, his daughter was also naive and too forgiving. Two weeks before she disappeared, she was supposed to move in with her mom. Instead, she got back together with Oppenneer.
Greg Slocum said his daughter would do anything to keep her new family together, “no matter what it took — and she paid the ultimate price for it.”
“Even to meet men on Craigslist to make some money because her boyfriend was manipulative,” he said. “She would put herself through hell just to make sure her family didn’t get divorced.”
He said he found letters that she wrote to her unborn child. In them, she talked about why she met men through Craigslist to have sex.
“She wanted to be loved,” Greg Slocum said.
He had caught her once an warned her of the dangers of meeting strangers for sex, but she was a teen with a mind of her own.
Crime scene tape was still up around Oestrike’s house on Taft Avenue near Porter Street in Wyoming Sunday afternoon as officers wearing vests labeled “forensics” brought in a K-9, leading it toward the back of the house. Neighbors said they had previously seen officers with K-9s in Oestrike’s backyard between Thursday and Sunday.
Neighbors also said Oestrike was a homebody and often kept to himself. About three years ago, they say, he ran a Bible study out of his home for a time.
A portion of Taft Avenue was closed Thursday night through Saturday, but was open again Sunday afternoon.
Wyoming Police Department Capt. Kim Koster said police plan to release an update on the case Monday afternoon.
Greg Slocum’s family said Brooke Slocum’s visitation is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lake Funeral Home on S. State Road in Ionia. The funeral is set for 1 p.m. Friday at Saranac Community Church on S. Bridge Street in Saranac.
The Slocum family is collecting donations to help cover funeral expenses. Family members said they still needed to raise about $10,000. Donations may be made at Independent Bank branches under the name of Brooke and Audi Slocum. Family said any leftover funds will go toward programs that educate pregnant women.