Death of Black youth in Benton Harbor in 1991 ruled homicide

April 19, 2022 GMT

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The death of a 16-year-old Black youth whose body was found in the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan nearly 31 years ago was a homicide, the Michigan attorney general’s office said Tuesday.

Eric McGinnis vanished from Benton Harbor on May 17, 1991. His body washed up along the river days later. It was initially ruled an accidental drowning, but the case was reopened last year following reports that someone had witnessed the events that led to the death.

The suspect in the case has been dead since 2003, said Lynsey Mukomel, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

No charges will be filed in the case, she said.

“While our efforts cannot bring Eric back, nor render justice in the eyes of the law, we do hope the family is vindicated by our department’s confirmation that Eric was indeed the victim of a homicide,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.

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McGinnis family attorney Leonard Mungo questioned why the attorney general’s office did not release the name of the suspect.

“While we appreciate the attorney general’s office reopening the case, they also fell far short as to naming that suspect. We believe it is inadequate and disrespectful to protect the name of a murderer. We request a disclosure immediately for the sake of transparency,” Mungo said in a statement.