Neighbors find man dead in backyard

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – A resident wasn’t expecting much when leaving his house recently — but that was before he looked into his neighbor’s backyard.

But as he was backing out of his driveway about 9:15 a.m. in the 700 block of Riverbank, Jon Wojcik noticed his neighbor, 59-year-old Fred Cole, lying face down in his own backyard.

Officers and rescue authorities responded and found Cole cold to the touch, discolored and showing no signs of life.

Dawn Huntley, who lived in the apartment next to Cole, said he was a heavy drinker with several serious medical issues. She also said he had several set behavior patterns that he recently deviated from, which she believed was due to changes in medication.

Huntley said she left her apartment the previous night and found Cole’s ball cap in the front yard. She placed the cap on his porch and found his house keys on the pavement in front of the porch’s first step. She called Cole’s name, but did not receive a reply.

Returning later in the evening between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, the woman noticed Cole’s vehicle parked in the driveway with the window down and the light on inside the house, both of which she said was abnormal, especially consider the time of night. She again tried to call the victim, but again received no reply.

Officers observed no outward signs of foul play and saw that Cole had his wallet, glasses, pocketknife, necklaces and money intact. Upon removing the victim’s wallet to identify him, a small, clear plastic zip-close bag containing unknown white crystalline granules.

Upon checking Cole’s residence, officers found it unlocked with the television turned on.

Officers located contact information for Cole’s daughter, wife and ex-wife. His ex-wife responded to the scene because his wife was out of state.

Once she arrived, Cole’s ex-wife said he had numerous medical conditions, including a severe cardiac arrest at a young age that required surgery. She also said he was taking a considerable number of prescription medications, which she believed he was abusing.

The ex-wife also said Cole was a heavy drinker. Numerous empty cases of beer were found inside the house.

Wayne County medical examiners took over the scene, and the residence was turned over to Cole’s ex-wife.

(Contact Chris Jackett at