Memorial held for Family Dollar victims on anniversary

Photo by Bob Oliver
Alan Konkel, the grandfather of slain Family Dollar employee Joseph Orlando, tears up as he addresses a group of family and friends in front of the store, 22631 Newman, July 16. The families of Orlando and co-worker Brenna Machus gathered to remember the victims on the one-year anniversary of the discovery of Orlando’s body and Machus’ disappearance from the store.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — One year after being struck by tragedy, the families and friends of the victims killed at the Family
Dollar, 22631 Newman Street, held a memorial in their honor last Wednesday.

The day was the one year anniversary of when police found Joseph Orlando, 20, inside the store dead and discovered that assistant manager Brenna Machus, 20, was missing.

Machus’ body was found on July 18 in a wooded area just south of Michigan Avenue east of the Southfield Freeway.

On Wednesday, a large section of the parking lot outside Family Dollar was marked off by caution tape and mourners
gathered and shared stories of the victims and observed a moment of silence for them.

“The last year has been really difficult,” said Cynthia Konkel, Orlando’s mother. “But we’ve gotten a lot of support from the community and that’s been very helpful.”

She added that the last two weeks have been especially difficult because of the anniversary and because Orlando would have turned 21 years old July 2.

Alan Konkel, Orlando’s grandfather, said he raised Orlando is his house and that he thinks about him every day.

“He was my son,” Konkel said. “He was just a great person and it’s very hard to belief that he’s no longer with us.”

Lisa Machus, Brenna Machus’ mother, said Brenna she was a beautiful person who only wanted to make the world a better place and asked memorial attendees to do one nice thing for someone else in memory in Brenna.

Lavere Bryant, 35, the Dearborn man accused of murdering Machus and Orlando, is currently being detained in the Wayne County Jail waiting for two separate trials to start, one for the homicides and a second for failing to register as a sex offender.

In the homicide case, Bryant is charged with eight felonies including two counts each of first degree murder and felony murder (one count for each victim), armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, felon in possession of a firearm, felony firearm and being a habitual offender.

Each of the four murder charges carry a penalty of life in prison without parole.

For the second trial, Bryant is charged with five counts of failure to comply with sex offender reporting duties and one count of failure to register as a sex offender.

Bryant is required to register as a sex offender due to a 1999 conviction for home invasion and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The home invasion charge was dismissed, but Bryant was given five years of probation and sentenced to one year of confinement in the Michigan Department of Corrections for the criminal sexual conduct.

A pretrial hearing for both cases has been scheduled
before Third Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway for Aug. 1 but no date has been set for the beginning of the trials.

The trials have been pushed back twice since January, most recently while Bryant underwent competency exams, which he passed.

Konkel said he has “complete faith” in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in its handling of the trial but has been discouraged that the process has taken so long.

“The process keeps getting dragged on and it’s frustrating,” Konkel said. “We’re going to have to relive all of this when the trial does begin.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.