Break-in turns deadly; 71-year-old victim badly beaten

Police are investigating the death of a man at a Muskegon Twp. home. (Jan. 9, 2015)

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The killing of a 71-year-old man in his own home, apparently during a burglary, appeared random except one thing: How badly he was beaten, as if it were personal, police said.

The body of Dennis McPherson was discovered just after 8 a.m. Friday in a bedroom of his home at 74 S. Dangl Road, north of Apple Avenue.

Neighbors said they last saw McPherson, whom they described as a retired factory worker, about 8 p.m. Thursday while he was snow-blowing his driveway.

“I said hi to him, he said, hello,” said neighbor Alfred Potter. “He went in his house, I went in my house.”

About 8 a.m. Friday, neighbor Dawn Andersen walked to his house to ask if she could use his snow blower.

“I was walking up his driveway and I saw that his screen door was wide open, and I thought that was kind of odd, so I walked up closer and noticed there was a hole in the window of his main door,” she said.

It appeared somebody had punched a hole in the window of the side door, just above the door knob. She also saw tire tracks in the driveway, stopping at the door, she said.

“I looked in the window and I was yelling his name and yelling his name and he didn’t respond,” she said.

She talked to another neighbor, and then called 911. Police discovered McPherson’s body in a bedroom. They say he’d been badly beaten. Police weren’t saying whether anything was taken.

McPherson was the kind of neighbor who’d let you borrow his snow blower, if he wasn’t already using it to clear the neighbor’s drive.

“Friendliest person you’ll ever know, friendly to everybody,” Andersen said. “He knew all the neighbors. Whenever he was out mowing his lawn or shoveling his driveway in the winter, he would stop and talk to ya, wave. Just the sweetest man.”

Some neighbors said they were frightened by the killing in a normally quiet neighborhood carved out of an oak forest.

“He was a quiet, old man who don’t bug nobody, does a lot for a lot of people, and he’s been

murdered in the middle of the night,” Potter said. “It’s very uneasy, very uneasy. I can’t believe it happened to him.”

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