Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Larry and Danny Ranes: Serial Killers in the Same Family

Confession

Ranes had not chosen his cohort carefully.  Koster was assigned an attorney, James Hills, who told him that if he offered details truthfully he would be allowed to plead to second-degree murder to one of the homicides, which came with a lesser sentence, and the other charge would be dropped.  Koster said he was bothered by what they had done.  However, it took until October 18 before he showed them Fearnow's body, not yet found.  The police knew that she was missing because her friends had reported that they had not heard from her since August 5 after she went out on an errand.

Her remains at this point were in skeletal condition, but her jawbone assisted in making an identification.  The location proved to be at Morrow Lake, less than a mile from where the other two girls had been dumped.  Koster named Danny Ranes as the instigator.  He said that shortly after this murder in August, he had broken off with Ranes because Ranes wanted him to steal a car and go to Florida.  Koster was afraid that Ranes had in mind to kill him, too.  He also told detectives about Ranes' confession to him of the murder of Patricia Howk. Ranes was charged that day with this fourth murder.

Since Koster was only 15, Hills, wanted to keep him in juvenile court, but Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Donald Burge petitioned the Probate Court to waive him into adult court, given the brutal nature of his crimes.  His request was approved, in part because Koster had a previous criminal record of burglary and car theft, including a felony.  Hills appealed this decision while Koster was taken to jail to be held without bond.  At the time, the Michigan Supreme Court was reviewing its policies about juvenile waivers, specifically with regard to their Constitutionality, because the current law offered no guidelines for who could be waived into adult court and who could not, so there was a chance that Koster's case could be salvaged.  Even so, the concept under consideration was that the juvenile system could not hold an offender beyond the age of 19, and some crimes could not be reasonably treated if the offender was destined to be in the system only two or three years.  Thus, it was not the principle behind the waiver that was the problem but only its lack of formal standards.

 

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