KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Three years after a Latvian refugee was found murdered inside his Kalamazoo home, his neighbor has been arrested in the case.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting confirms 43-year-old Todd Maneke will be formally charged Tuesday with open murder in the death of 88-year-old Alfred Minka.
Minka’s body was found inside his home on Brookmont Drive on Aug. 23, 2013. Officers said he died from blunt force trauma. It was the kind of crime even detectives couldn’t wrap their heads around.
“Some of these things just dumbfound you,” Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Capt. Victor Ledbetter said. “It’s senseless.”
He said police have had their eyes on one man almost from the start:
“We had one person who we felt confidently was the suspect,” he said.
So what was the piece of evidence that came that finally allowed police to make an arrest?
“It wasn’t one that came in. It was something that was finally tested and things that we just — from the evidence that we had — putting the pieces together,” Ledbetter said.
He would not elaborate further.
Court records obtained by Target 8 in January 2014 showed that at the time, police had developed a person of interest: a neighbor who told police he was nearly broke, jobless, and had a drug addiction. Records show that neighbor had been borrowing money from Minka and never paying it back.
That neighbor, along with his wife, discovered Minka’s body. But records show their stories didn’t line up and that texts sent between the two that night had been deleted from their phones.
KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley told 24 Hour News 8 that Maneke has been the person of interest since the beginning.
Maneke was taken into custody at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Minka settled in Kalamazoo in 1951, relatives told 24 Hour News 8. He left behind four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Monday, his son told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone that the family has been waiting for an arrest for three years.
Abdallah Elajouz, who used to live near the suspect and victim, recalled Minka as a peaceful, friendly man. He was stunned to learn of Maneke’s arrest.
“Normal neighbor. Used to borrow tools like that and one time he took my son to school, which is with his kids. I just never thought this would happen,” he said.
Criminal records obtained by 24 Hour News 8 show Maneke was charged with felony embezzlement from a nonprofit and two counts of felony uttering and publishing the same month as Minka’s murder. He pleaded guilty to felony uttering and publishing a month later, records show.
Detectives are continuing to follow up on leads, tips and evidence in the homicide. Anyone with additional information in the incident is asked to call Kalamazoo Public Safety at 337.8994 or Silent Observer at 343.2100.