Deputies seeking public help to lead to Eaton County homicide arrest

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a picture of pink running shoes was all that the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office was able to share with the public.

“There was no identifying… no ID on the remains. We could not identify this person,” Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said. 

The body was discovered on March 28 by a person walking in the woods near Wilbur Hwy and Spruce Rd. in Eaton Rapids Township. Officials said the body was so decomposed, they couldn’t identify her, so they turned to other methods.

“We’ve been told through from experts at Michigan State University that the remains were there since last mid-may, so she was there for a while,” Sheriff Reich said. 

The Sheriff’s Office worked with MSU’s Anthropology and Biology departments to help identify the remains. 

“There was nothing there, so we had to go to other routes such as DNA. DNA came back as a match of being Stephanie Lynette Southwell, a 35-year-old female from Lansing,” Sheriff Reich said. 

Deputies say Southwell was last seen a year ago, but no missing person reports were filed. Officials say they are still looking for a suspect and they won’t release a cause of death. So far, they don’t have much to go on.

“No leads, no suspects. We’re hoping that with this new information today, somebody may have seen her,” Sheriff Reich said. “We’re hoping that we get tips from either family or friends or some who have seen this young lady.”

Now that they’ve identified Southwell, they say the real investigation will begin. 

“This is an active homicide case and we’re gonna dig right down to it and find out who’s responsible for this,” the Sheriff said. 

Investigators are hoping someone will come forward with information to help solve this case. Anyone who might know anything about Southwell is asked to call crime stoppers at (517) 483-STOP. We will continue to follow this story and keep you updated with any new information as it develops. 

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