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Police Say Girls Killed Man, Held Party to Show Off the Corpse

August 1, 1995

WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (AP) _ Two teen-age girls together pulled the trigger of a rifle and killed an elderly man, then threw a party at his mobile home and showed the corpse to friends, police said.

None of the party-goers contacted police until after the body was found by relatives two days later, Newaygo County Sheriff Roger Altena said.

Devon Watts, 17, and Kelly Heemstra, 18, were charged Monday with murder in the slaying of 73-year-old Leonard Claude Hughey, with whom they had been living.

The girls had gotten into an argument with Hughey, but the nature of the dispute was not immediately clear.

They were jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail and could get life in prison.

Investigators believe the girls killed Hughey on Friday, pulling the trigger of a .22-caliber rifle together.

``It sounds bizarre, but that’s what we’re looking at right now,″ the sheriff said.

Investigators believe he was shot in the abdomen while in his bedroom and carried to a backyard shed, where he died.

On Saturday night, the girls invited friends over for a party, Altena said.

The sheriff said the pair led 10 friends out to see the body but Undersheriff Mike Mercer said Tuesday they only showed it to two teen-age boys.

``They (girls) were laughing about it,″ Mercer said.

Altena was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment about the discrepancy in numbers.

Mercer said police were not considering charges against the two boys, but were still questioning others at the party.

One party-goer, 19-year-old Anthony Gilmore, said at the sheriff’s office Monday evening that he saw the body.

``This is a serious case and I didn’t know what to do,″ he said before entering the station. ``I thought about going to police (earlier), but I didn’t want to go because I was scared.″

The girls had been staying with Hughey on and off for several months, said Heemstra’s grandmother, Joyce Heemstra.

``Apparently, he felt sorry for them,″ she said.

Friends and neighbors said Hughey was retired and his wife died a few months ago. In recent months, neighbors said, they began to worry about the teen-agers visiting his home and eating his food.

``He was trying to do them a favor, and that’s what he got for it,″ said Heemstra’s uncle, Harold Harper. ``We did tell him he had trouble on his hands.″

White Cloud, population 1,100, is about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids.

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