STURGIS, Mich. (WOOD) — Brittney Beers was 6 when she disappeared in 1997, apparently kidnapped in Sturgis near the Indiana border. Her body was never found.
Now, 18 years later, her family has new hope after Daniel Furlong, who lived in a nearby town, pleaded guilty to the abduction and murder of another young girl, Jodi Parrack.
“If this guy did it, I want five minutes with him,” Brittney’s grandfather, Leonard Beers, told 24 Hour News 8 on Friday. “You wouldn’t have to worry about him again.”
Furlong, 65, of White Pigeon in St. Joseph County, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder for killing 11-year-old Jodi Parrack in 2007 and dumping her body in a cemetery in Constantine. Records show he was living in Constantine at the time.
Police say he kidnapped Jodi, bound her hands with zip-ties and suffocated her with a plastic bag.
They said they don’t believe Furlong knew Jodi.
“I think it was, for the lack of a better term, the opportunity presented itself with him unfortunately and it happened to be Jodi Parrack,” State Police Lt. Charles Christensen said.
He also admitted to trying to kidnap a 10-year-old girl this past August in nearby White Pigeon, though his plea deal means he won’t face that charge.
He was living in the same mobile home park as the girl’s family. In that case, he lured the girl into his garage, asking for help moving boxes, then grabbed a steak knife, court records show.
The girl escaped, leading to Furlong’s arrest. DNA linked him to Jodi’s death.
In his garage, police said they found a list of names of girls living in the mobile home park.
“He’s lived with it for enough years that it was time and this was his chance to help everybody heal and move forward,” his attorney, David Marvin, said.
Marvin said his client has shown remorse. He said the plea deal happened only after prosecutors allowed Furlong to meet with his own family, smoke cigarettes and drink a “good cup of coffee.”
“He’s still human,” Marvin said. “He might have some problems, but he’s still human.”
In exchange, he was given immunity for any other crimes in St. Joseph County and agreed to take a lie detector test.
One of the questions police will ask him: Did you take Brittney Beers?
“I want to know where she is at,” her grandfather said. “We haven’t found her yet. I want to know what happened to her.
“When you hurt a child, you hurt a lot of people, not only the mother and dad, the people around them. My family was almost destroyed on account of this.”
So far, the best clue is a composite drawing from a possible witness.
Christensen, of the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post, said that composite looks a lot like Furlong. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was him.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he has killed somebody else,” Christensen said.
Police in Sturgis on Friday said Furlong is a person of interest in Brittney’s disappearance — based on his history, that he lived not far away and the composite.
But Furlong’s attorney says he has denied taking Brittney.
State police say they also believe Furlong stalked a 9- or 10-year-old girl in 2010, in Constantine.
“He was basically stalking a young girl on her way to school,” Christensen said. “She was never abducted, but just the circumstances of what happened there would lead you to believe that was on his mind.”