GR murder suspect behind more than 1,200 crimes

A mug shot of Donald Alexander Spice (Kent County Jail)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Decades before he was arrested for the murder of a Grand Rapids mother, Donald Spice nicknamed himself “Nighthawk” as he committed more than 1,200 break-ins around West Michigan.

He was convicted for those break-ins in 1991, when he was in his early 20s. He served around six years in prison.

Then, in 1997, six months after his parole ended, Spice returned to a life of crime. He was caught trying to break into another business near Ramblewood Apartments in Wyoming and arrested.

“It’s the third time of being really stupid. It was desperation,” he told 24 Hour News 8 at the time.

He said he did it because he needed some cash.

“My car had broken down. I was going to LCC (Lansing Community College). I was having problems getting money, borrowing money,” the softspoken Spice said.

But police said the crimes were not just about money. They said Spice was addicted to breaking and entering, which Spice denied.

“No, I am not [like] that. Police are trying to make me out to be an obsessive person,” Spice said in 1997.

He spent another 17 years in prison and was discharged in February 2014.

An undated courtesy photo of Lori Vargas.
An undated courtesy photo of Lori Vargas.

Tuesday, Spice was formally charged with open murder and being a habitual offender in the death of Lori Vargas.

Detectives said Spice admitted to getting into a fight with Vargas, his girlfriend, at their Emerald Avenue NE home and killing her. Authorities said he then loaded Vargas’ body into a car, drove to Ottawa County, parked on the shoulder of Interstate 96 near Marne, then set the car on fire early Monday.

Spice was ordered held in the Kent County Correctional Facility without bond. If convicted of murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Vargas, 37, leaves behind two children.

Authorities investigate a deadly car fire on I-96 in Wright Township. (Nov. 9, 2015)
Authorities investigate a deadly car fire on I-96 in Wright Township. (Nov. 9, 2015)

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