Year in review: Major Delta, Schoolcraft crimes of 2013
ESCANABA – Major criminal cases investigated in 2013 in Delta and Schoolcraft counties included torture of a child, sexual assaults on minors, assaults on police officers and others, and home invasions. Convictions resulted in maximum sentencings of 20 years to up to 50 years in prison.
A criminal case involving the torture of an Escanaba boy resulted in two major convictions in Delta County during 2013. The case made national headlines as the investigation revealed the child had been abused by his mother and her boyfriend while he was held captive in an upstairs bedroom for years.
In August, Susan Marie Bardo, 46, was ordered to two concurrent prison sentences of 20 years to 50 years on one count of torture and one count of first-degree child abuse for abusing her 15-year-old son.
Bardo’s live-in boyfriend, Carl James Pellinen, 47, was sentenced to 25 years to 50 years on one count of first-degree child abuse and sentenced to 17.5 years to 50 years on one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The sentences are concurrent.
Following an investigation by Escanaba Public Safety, Pellinen and Bardo were arrested on April 12 in connection with the abuse dating back to 2007 until the present. Each defendant admitted in court to abusing the boy.
Evidence revealed the child was kept 22 hours a day in the upstairs bedroom lined with plastic tarps. At times, he was bound to a chair with tape or rope. He was usually given only one meal a day. He was also sexually abused.
Among several criminal sexual conduct convictions involving adults abusing minors in Delta County in 2013, two major convictions involved Justin Dylan Smith, 29, of Sheboygan, Wis. and Robert Jason Turner, 35, of Escanaba.
Following a three-day jury trial in May, Smith was found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for engaging in sexual penetration of a female victim under the age of 13 years in Rapid River in 2011. Smith was sentenced to 25-40 years in prison.
During a jury trial in April, Turner was found guilty on three counts for assaulting a female minor and having sexual contact with her during incidents from 2002-2010 in Ford River Township.
Turner was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison on two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13.
He was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in prison on one count of first degree criminal sexual conduct – relationship. He was sentenced to 71 months to 15 years in prison on one count of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13. All sentences are concurrent.
In July, a jury found Joshua Jacob Curtis, 33, of Escanaba, guilty but mentally ill of one count of assault with intent to murder an Escanaba Public Safety officer. Curtis was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison.
While officers were investigating a domestic incident at Curtis’ home on Jan. 10, he had locked himself in his medical marijuana “grow room.” When police entered the room, Curtis intended to harm a cop with a knife he later claimed to be using to cut string for his pot plants.
The jury also found Curtis guilty of assaulting/resisting/obstructing another police officer during a Jan. 9 incident at Bay College.
He was sentenced to 240 days in jail and given credit for 240 days already served.
In March, Ashley Marie Stodola, 20, of Escanaba, was sentenced to prison for her role in the assault of a Bark River man. She was one of three individuals arrested in a scheme to assault and rob a 41-year-old Bark River man on Oct. 22, 2011 in Bark River Township. The two co-defendants were each sentenced to less than a year in jail.
The three were arrested in 2012 following a year-long investigation by the Michigan State Police Post in Gladstone. The three defendants and others made plans to coax the victim to his home, break in his house, beat him up with bats, and steal his money.
Stodola was sentenced to a minimum of three years and 10 months to a maximum of 22 and a half years in prison on one count of second-degree home invasion as a second offense habitual offender.
Stodola was also sentenced to 194 days in jail on one count of attempted larceny as a second offense habitual offender. She was given credit for 194 days served.
In Schoolcraft County Circuit Court in November, Gordon Daniel Baker II, 36, of Manistique, was sentenced as an habitual offender on three felonies.
On Aug. 28, Baker beat up Manistique resident Michael Chapek, according to Manistique Public Safety, the investigating agency.
Baker was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison for assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder in connection with the beating.
In a separate case investigated by the Michigan State Police detachment from Manistique, Baker was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison on one count of second-degree home invasion. The incident occurred sometime during Aug. 18-30 at a residence on Lasich Road in Manistique Township.
Baker was also sentenced to 10-20 years in prison on one count of breaking and entering a building with intent for breaking into a garage on River Road in Manistique Township sometime during Aug. 18-30.
Jacob Michael Calouette, 29, of Escanaba, was sentenced in Delta County in December to up to 20 years in prison for stealing from a Ford River Township residence while the homeowners were asleep last summer.
He was ordered to spend a minimum of four years and two months to up to 20 years in prison on one count of first-degree home invasion. Calouette admitted he entered a home on 11.5 Road with the intention to steal something on Aug. 11. He ran from the residence after the homeowner caught him in the act and fired two gun shots.
In a Gogebic County case involving the 2012 murder of a former Delta County resident, a jury found Kenneth Wayne Peters, 50, of Bessemer, guilty of killing his wife, Ethel Grzena/Peters, 79. Peters was ordered in May to spend the rest of his life in prison without parole on one count of first-degree murder.
The jury also found Peters guilty of one count of second-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult. He was sentenced to 58 months to 180 months in prison on this felony.
Peters reported his wife missing on Aug. 3, 2012. Her body was found 10 days later. Peters was arrested the following week and lodged in jail without bond.