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Timothy DAWSON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 11, 2004
Date of arrest: January 25, 2008
Date of birth: 1976
Victim profile: Julia Dawson, 23 (his wife)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Sparta, Michigan, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole on December 8, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 

affidavit of probable cause

 
 
 
 
 
 

Timothy Dawson gets life sentence in wife's slaying

The Muskegon Chronicle

December 08, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS Timothy Dawson, convicted of first-degree murder in the 2004 slaying of his wife, has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

The Michigan attorney general's office says Dawson, 32, of Kerrville, Texas, received the sentence Monday in Kent County Circuit Court.

Dawson moved to Texas following the death of his wife four years ago.

Julia Dawson, 23, was bludgeoned and strangled in December 2004. Her body was found alongside a road about three weeks after she disappeared from their Sparta home.

Prosecutors say Dawson planned the murder after learning his wife had consulted a divorce lawyer.

 
 

Timothy Dawson Receives Life Sentence

Office of Attorney General

December 8, 2008

Attorney General Mike Cox today announced that Timothy Dawson, of Kerrville, Texas, has been sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.  Dawson was convicted of first-degree murder on November 6, 2008 for the December 2004 murder of his wife.  December 13, 2008 marks the four-year anniversary of Julia Dawson's disappearance; her body was later found January 3, 2005.

Attorney General Mike Cox made the following statement today:

"Today's sentencing closes the final chapter in a winding journey to bring justice to family of Julia Dawson.  Though the legal system may close this chapter, the life of Julia Dawson will not be forgotten and will continue to live on in the memory of her family members, most of all with her son.  While this verdict will not undo the past, I hope Julia's family can take comfort in knowing that justice was served.

Let today's sentencing, and this case, serve as a reminder to criminals who seek to do harm; justice will follow you and justice will prevail.

This verdict would not have been possible without the hard work of the Kent County Sheriff's Department, the Sparta Police Department, and the dedicated men and women in my office.  I especially want to thank Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin for working tirelessly on this case in order to see justice triumph."

 

 
 

Murder victim's family relieved after Timothy Dawson convicted for 2004 murder of his wife

The Grand Rapids Press

November 06, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS -- At a watering spot not far from the Kent County courthouse, there was a raucous gathering Thursday where four years of pent-up grief and emotions were vented.

Family and friends of Julia Dawson were there to shake hands with, slap on the back and buy a Pepsi for the detectives and assistant Attorney General who ultimately won a conviction and mandatory life sentence for Julia's murderer, her husband Timothy Dawson.

But before he would go to the tavern where he would be greeted like a rock star, Detroit-based Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin had to call his mom and share the good news.

The three-week trial that included more than 100 exhibits and 80 witnesses ended after less than seven hours of jury deliberation with a verdict of first-degree murder. Timothy Dawson was found guilty of strangling his wife on Dec. 11, 2004 and dumping her naked body on the side of the road near U.S. 131 and Pierson Road in southern Montcalm County. It remained there until found by a passerby on Jan. 3, 2005.

The last few years have been a grueling ordeal for Julia Dawson's family, who said they never gave up hope, but had to watch a trial that exposed their daughter's most intimate details.

"I'm just glad our prayers were answered," said Julia's mother, Tamara Keenan, who went from the courtroom weeping, overwhelmed by emotion.

"You just sit there and pray, that's all you can do," said Kevin Keenan, Julia's father.

Tamara Keenan said the first thing they plan to do is retrieve Julia and Timothy Dawson's young son from Texas, where he has been living with Dawson and his partner, Billie Dean.

Tamara Keenan presented key testimony in the case, according to jurors, when she told the court her 23-year-old daughter said two days before she died that she was leaving Timothy Dawson to return to her parents' home -- an act that Rollstin said caused Timothy Dawson, 32, to put his plan to kill his wife into action.

"I want people to remember that she was a loving, kind-hearted person who thought she could help make Tim a better person and she couldn't," Tamara Keenan said. "All Julia ever wanted was for her boys to be together -- and now they will be."

In addition to her son with Timothy Dawson, Julia Dawson had an older son from a previous relationship.

Julia's brother, Army Spc. Patrick Keenan, will return to his station in Korea next week knowing his sister's murderer will never leave prison.

"I've waited for four years to hear this and I think this is the first time in that period of time I've been happy," Patrick Keenan said.

As for Timothy Dawson's mother, Susan Dawson, she is convinced her son is not guilty and the person who truly killed her daughter-in-law walks free.

"I know he's innocent," Dawson said of her son. She plans to help fight to keep Timothy and Julia Dawson's son, Alex, in Texas with Billie Dean.

For lead investigator Kent County sheriff's Detective Randy Kieft, he finally will see some more room on his desk. He and his partner, Det. Russell Larson, have worked this case since 2004 when Sparta Police asked Kent County to help with what they deemed to be a questionable missing person's case.

Kieft said Dawson's file never left his desk since 2004, even as Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth refused to write an arrest warrant for Timothy Dawson, and as the Michigan State Police dropped out of the case.

"I never had any doubt it would end the way it did," Kieft said.

Juror Michelle Kershner said the jury looked at the exhibits and considered the defense presented by attorney Charles Rominger -- who worked pro bono on the case -- but she said the weight of evidence was overwhelming.

"The defense did a good job," she said. "But this case went days and days and there was so much evidence. Justice has been served."

Rollstin said he never felt it was a gamble to use the testimony of convicted murderer Marvin Snyder, who told jurors Timothy Dawson confessed to him while they shared a Kent County Jail cell.

Jurors looked at the transcript of Snyder's testimony and said it played some role in their deliberations, but was not the main factor. "It was not the linchpin by any means," said jury foreman Mark Perna.

When the jury read its verdict, many of its members stared at Dawson to see his reaction. The defendant who had been smiling, even jovial, during the trial turned ashen as he was led out of the courtroom to begin what will be a lifetime behind bars.

Circuit Judge James Robert Redford will make the mandatory sentence official Dec. 8.

 
 

Cellmate, convicted murderer Marvin Snyder says Timothy Dawson admitted to killing wife

The Muskegon Chronicle

October 29, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS There is a cell in the Kent County Jail where back in February three subjects of some of the county's highest profile murder investigations shared a small space behind bars.

The inmates referred to it as "the celebrity suite."

In the cell, Marvin Snyder, Jeffrey VanVels and Timothy Dawson would play cards, board games, read the paper and talk. Snyder and Dawson hit it off right away. VanVels mostly kept to himself.

Despite it being well known that other inmates frown upon those who tell tales to police, Snyder said he would keep notes on his conversations. He did so with Kevin Elder, who is also accused of killing his wife, attorney Tina Partee.

And he did the same with Dawson.

On Wednesday, Snyder told a jury his version of what he heard: an alleged confession from Dawson about killing his 23-year-old wife Julia Dawson on Dec. 11, 2004 after an argument, and then driving around with her body in the car for two hours.

He also said that Dawson talked about cleaning the carpet with bleach, which has been mentioned repeatedly in the nine days of the trial where Dawson is charged with first-degree murder.

"He said his wife was getting ready to pack a bag and take the kids and leave him and he couldn't allow that," Snyder said Dawson told him. "He said that he hit and choked her and freaked out."

Snyder said that Dawson was saying the only reason that police were onto him was because he kept his wife's keys.

"He said he should have threw them away, got rid of them," Snyder told the jury. "(Dawson) kept saying they don't have nothing on him."

"He used to watch 'Forensic Files' and stuff like that and talked about a case where a guy killed his wife and made it look like she was raped," Snyder said Dawson told him.

After Snyder testified, a sedate and seemingly disaffected VanVels spoke for the first time in open court. He said that he and Snyder and Dawson shared a cell.

"Yeah, we'd all talk," VanVels said, but he said he never heard Dawson say anything about his case. Testimony showed VanVels spent most of his time either with headphones on are sleeping due to his depression medication.

The murderers were called by Assistant State Attorney General William Rollstin as a calculated risk since the two were likely to see their credibility attacked by defense attorney Charles Rominger.

During questioning by Rominger, any jury member who was unaware of the criminal past of VanVels and Snyder were brought up to speed.

VanVels was convicted of the July 8, 2007 shooting of Grand Rapids Police Officer Robert Kozminski, who answered a domestic disturbance call and was securing the area around the Northeast Side home.

When the 29-year-old Kozminski looked into the garage window, VanVels fired from a distance of less than 20 feet. The shot delivered numerous projectiles into the face of the young officer, who took his last breath in the driveway of the home while his murderer listened to him die.

When it came to Snyder, he admitted he murdered Susan Sheldon on Nov. 1, 2007, with a table leg at his apartment at 656 Leonard St. NW, then buried her body in a shallow grave in the 1700 block of Alpine Avenue NW.

An autopsy showed the entire body of Snyder's former girlfriend was covered in bruises, her head had deep knife wounds and he had carved "you are the world" into her forearm before tying up her body with a clothes line and a tarp.

Snyder insisted Wednesday that he was defending himself against an attack by Sheldon and that he never carved on her body.

Snyder was sentenced to 35 to 150 years in prison; VanVels is in prison for life.

Rominger spent time asking Snyder why he would agree to testify and what consideration he must be getting to put himself out for law enforcement.

Snyder said he never approached Dawson to ask about his case. He said Dawson put it forward on his own.

"When you're locked up you don't ask someone about their case," Snyder said. "That's a good way to get choked or stabbed."

Snyder said he kept notes about what other inmates told him on a pad he kept hidden under his mattress. He said that after he sent law enforcement a form talking about what he heard, he tore up his own copy and flushed it down the toilet to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

"I did it because it was the right thing to do," Snyder said of telling authorities about what he heard. The case is likely to go to the jury next week.

 
 

Jury watches police interrogation video of Timothy Dawson denying that he killed his wife

The Grand rapid Press

October 22, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS -- Three weeks after police found Julia Dawson's remains along the side of a Montcalm County road, a pair of Kent County detectives put her husband in an interrogation room and told him he was lying about having nothing to do with his wife's homicide.

Jurors who will decide if Timothy Dawson is guilty of first-degree murder got to see a video recording Wednesday of detectives Randy Kieft and Russell Larson grilling the suspect at the Kent County Sheriff's Department headquarters on Jan. 24, 2005.

After a bit of friendly chatter, Dawson -- who reported his young wife missing on Dec. 12, 2004, -- agrees to talk to police without a lawyer, but soon finds himself getting tough questions and accusations from the detective.

"I know you lied to us before," Kieft tells Dawson who, clearly taken aback, retorts "No."

Kieft tells Dawson that police checked out the route Dawson told police he drove allegedly looking for his wife the night she went missing -- the night police say he killed his 23-year-old wife and put her body by the road, making it look like she'd been raped.

By the time of the interview, an autopsy had determined Julia Dawson had been strangled, but Kieft lied to her husband in the interview and said it appeared she died from just not breathing. Timothy Dawson had told police that his wife sometimes liked to hold her breath during sex to enhance orgasm.

Kieft tried to get Dawson to admit he was there when she died by implying that her breath-holding may have inadvertently caused her death.

"This could be an accident followed by panic and a lot of bad choices," Kieft said to Dawson. "I can understand bad choices. We're just human. We make mistakes."

Kieft said he can explain a mistake, but he can't explain deception.

But Dawson kept repeating "no" and insisting he was not involved in her death.

"I don't know what to tell you, I wasn't there," said Dawson, now 32. "I can't help you."

"Yes, you can," Kieft said.

Finally, Dawson told police that while he had been honest with them, he was going to need a lawyer if police were going to keep accusing him.

Kieft walked out of the room and Dawson asked Larson about where his wife was killed. Larson told Dawson if he wasn't going to answer police questions, they wouldn't answer his.

At the time, police had no choice but to let Dawson walk out the door.

Over the next two years, police would continue to investigate and Dawson would move to Texas with his young son. Kent County detectives would take the case to the state Attorney General's office after the Kent County Prosecutor refused to write an arrest warrant for Dawson.

The case finally came to court last week and continues today as defense attorney Charles Rominger will cross-examine Kieft.

Earlier Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin put Tim Dawson's ex-sister-in-law Melissa Stark on the stand. She testified she was at Dawson's Sparta home when Tim Dawson's two daughters from a previous relationship came over for a visit, not long after Julia's body was discovered.

Stark said she heard Timothy Dawson tell his girls they could talk about Julia, cry about her for 15 minutes and after that, she was not to be mentioned again.

 
 

Testimony in Dawson murder trial focuses on wife's intent to leave

The Grand Rapid Press

October 17, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS -- In the months before her 2004 disappearance, Julia Dawson, of Sparta, told co-workers and friends she planned to leave her husband, Timothy.

She had changed her mind about this before -- and once had relented after her husband "cried and begged her not to do it," but on Dec. 10, 2004, she told her mother she had had enough.

She stood up to her husband and felt empowered, her mother, Tamara Keenan, testified on Friday.

"'Get my room ready, because I'm coming home,'" Julia Dawson told her mother.

But she never made it to her parents' home.

Police believe Julia Dawson, 23, was killed the day after she told her mother she was coming home. Her husband reported her missing the next day, her disappearance a mystery for 22 days until her naked body was found near a guardrail by Pierson Road and U.S. 131 in Montcalm County.

Timothy Dawson, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in his wife's killing. He was arrested earlier this year after Kent County sheriff's detectives asked the state Attorney General's Office to review the case after Kent County prosecutors declined to file charges.

His jury trial, which began Wednesday, is to resume Monday in Kent County Circuit Court with Keenan back on the witness stand. Also Monday, Judge James Redford is expected to determine whether a report prepared by the Attorney General's Office in April -- which reportedly showed Michigan State Police pulled out of the investigation because of tactics used by the sheriff's department -- will be shared with jurors.

Testimony on Friday centered around witnesses who described a troubled marriage and Julia Dawson's plans to end the relationship. It included testimony from Timothy Dawson's first wife, Amy Hinkley, who had two daughters with Dawson.

Eight months before the killing, Hinkley said, Julia Dawson "told me she needed my help because she wanted a divorce."

Carla Everingham, a co-worker at Kalfact Plastics, testified Julia Dawson told her "that she had a very bad home life. ... I asked her at the time why she didn't leave, and she just said it wasn't an option for her."

Defense attorney Charles Rominger disputed allegations the couple had a bad marriage and said the victim was simply overwhelmed by caring for two children, including one from a previous relationship, and working a third-shift job.

He suggested Julia Dawson had a relationship with a co-worker, and that she was seen with him before she disappeared. But workers said the two were just friends, not linked romantically.

Meanwhile, state police detective Sgt. Richard Miller testified he used a black light to examine markings on the victim's body. He checked tattoo parlors and images on the Internet but believed the marks were left by material used to wrap the body after the killing.

 
 

Probe damaged by police spats, Dawson defense says

By Tom W. Nowak - Mlive.com

October 17, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS -- The focus shifted in Timothy Dawson's murder trial Thursday, veering away from the alleged dysfunction in his relationship with his wife, Julia, to the defense's claim that the true dysfunction was in the investigation of her slaying.

Attorney Charles Rominger is seeking to include a report prepared by the attorney general's office in April that purportedly shows state police investigators pulled out of the case because they were unhappy with the tactics used by the Kent County Sheriff's Department.

Timothy Dawson was arrested for his wife's death this year -- three years after Julia Dawson's body was found. County investigators who gathered the evidence took the case to the attorney general after Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth declined to write an arrest warrant for Tim Dawson.

Rominger read a portion of the report late Thursday afternoon to Kent County Circuit Judge James Robert Redford after the jury was excused for the night. State Police Detective Sgt. Sally Wolter reported she was present at a meeting between sheriff's investigators and Forsyth on Aug. 30, 2005, looking into the slaying.

She said, during the meeting, Forsyth asked if "there was any unfinished business" with hair fibers related to the case, and sheriff's Capt. Mark Fletcher told Forsyth there was not.

Wolter apparently knew there was a hair fiber issue in the case that had not been resolved but, according to Rominger's quoting of the report, Wolter felt minimized by the sheriff's department and felt it wasn't her place to say anything to Forsyth during the meeting.

However, Wolter did tell her boss, State Police Lt. Curt Schram. He ordered her to turn over all her findings to the sheriff's department. Then, Schram called Forsyth to say the state police were pulling out of the case. Rominger said the report quotes Schram as saying the incident at the Forsyth meeting was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

"This goes to the integrity of the investigation," Rominger told Redford. "Here, an entire police agency has withdrawn from a murder investigation because the lead agency has not been honest."

Fletcher has since retired, according to the sheriff's department.

Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin, who is prosecuting Dawson, argued the inter-agency fight is irrelevant. He said the fiber in question later was tested, and it did not belong to Dawson or any person who has been identified.

Forsyth has refused to say why he would not authorize the warrant for Dawson's arrest in the three years between the time Julia Dawson's body was found and when Dawson was charged.

When reached late Thursday, Forsyth would not comment. Schram could not be reached.

Forsyth is one of the 125 people on the potential witness list for Dawson's trial, which started Monday and continues today. Also on the list is Fletcher and members of the sheriff's department, the state police and the prosecutor's office.

Wolter was expected to continue testifying today, but Redford has told the attorneys the alleged issues between the state police and sheriff's department are off-limits, for now. The judge wants to read copies of the attorney general's reports and consider over the weekend whether the information can be heard by the jury.

Matthew Frendeway, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the report is a ploy by the defense to distract from the real issues of the case.

"It changes no facts," said Frendeway, who added the report reveals nothing more than a turf war between police agencies. "We continue to believe we have a strong case against Timothy Dawson."

 
 

Witnesses testify about finding Julia Dawson's body beside U.S. 131

By Kate Nagengast - Mlive.com

October 16, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS The body of Julia Dawson was left naked and exposed to the elements within yards of busy U.S. 131 three years ago.

The question is, for how long?

Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin wants a jury to believe the body of the 23-year-old mother had been there since mid-December 2004 dumped by her husband, Timothy Dawson, who was enraged after learning she was planning to divorce him. Dawson is on trial for the murder of his wife, whose strangled body was found in southern Montcalm County.

Defense Attorney Charles Rominger told the jury there is no credible evidence showing the body was lying in plain sight of untold thousands of drivers and those who passed by.

The jury heard from Louis Lincoln who discovered the body during one of his daily walks in the area around the Pierson Road overpass on Jan. 3, 2005.

"As I got closer, I thought someone had tossed a mannequin by the side of the road," Lincoln testified Thursday. But as he peered over the guard rail, he knew what he had found was the body of Julia Dawson.

Grisly photos displayed to the jury on an overhead projector showed the body, a solitary figure on a field that stretched for miles.

Lincoln said he walked that same route for days prior to the discovery and never saw anything. Rominger hopes this will convince the jury that the body had been dumped there just before its discovery.

A neighbor and a garbage truck driver testified they had seen something at the same spot where Julia Dawson's body was found, but they assumed it was garbage or a rug discarded by the road and never approached it.

The neighbors, Phyllis and James Dettmer, said they saw the object out their window for two or three days prior to Jan. 3, 2005, while driver Fred Rozema said he saw it for the first time on Dec. 21, 2004.

Rollstin said in his opening statement Thursday that Timothy Dawson strangled his wife with a belt and then soon after dumped her body where it was found, ripping off her cloths to make it appear she had been the victim of sexual assault.

He said over the weeks the body was covered with snow dumped there by plows and only became visible after an early January thaw.

 
 

Timothy Dawson goes to trial more than 3 years after wife's death

By Darin Estep - Mlive.com

October 15, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS -- A short time after Julia Dawson's body was found dumped along a country road in southern Montcalm County, investigators said they zeroed in on her husband as the culprit. It wasn't a matter of if Timothy Dawson would be arrested for the slaying of his young wife, they said, it was when.

That was more than 3 1/2 years ago.

Today, the murder trial of Timothy Dawson was to begin in Kent County Circuit Court. It has been a long time coming for Julia Dawson's parents, Kevin and Tamara Keenan.

"We're just glad it's finally getting to a courtroom," Tamara Keenan said.

Jury selection was to begin today, with testimony to start Thursday.

Because Tamara Keenan is under subpoena in the case, she said she cannot speak about specifics. But she and her husband earlier said they long suspected their former son-in-law of killing their daughter.

Julia Dawson's bludgeoned and strangled body was found along Pierson Road on Jan. 3, 2005, three weeks after Timothy Dawson said she went missing from the couple's Sparta home after leaving for a Christmas shopping trip.

Timothy Dawson, 32, who has maintained his innocence, tried to kill himself not long after the Kent County Sheriff's Department named him as the main suspect in early 2005. He then moved with the couple's young son to Texas.

He was arrested there earlier this year and brought back to Kent County to face the murder charge.

Tamara Keenan said she is prepared for what could be a wrenching account of her 23-year-old daughter's final moments. "It's hard, but we're very glad it's getting along," she said.

While Julia's parents may have their minds made up, Timothy Dawson's attorneys -- Charles Rominger and Judy Bregman -- are expected to point to a lack of direct evidence that Dawson killed his wife. According to court documents, they plan to present evidence to show Timothy and Julia Dawson had a marriage no different than most with its ups and downs, but nothing that would lead to murder.

They have notes written by Julia Dawson to her husband, not long before she disappeared, saying she would love him forever.

Across from them, Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin will work to convince a jury that the Dawson marriage was fatally dysfunctional. He will present testimony that Timothy Dawson was controlling, that the two were verbally abusive toward each other and that Julia showed bruises to friends whom she also told she was planning to divorce her husband, court records show.

It was the prospect of a second failed marriage for Timothy Dawson that led him to strangle his wife with a belt in the couple's kitchen in December 2004, authorities believe.

The case hinges on testimony and circumstantial evidence. Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth looked at much of the evidence gathered by investigators and would not issue an arrest warrant for Timothy Dawson; Forsyth has refused to say why.

So sheriff's investigators presented the evidence they had gathered to Attorney General Mike Cox, who authorized an arrest warrant in January.

On Tuesday, Judge James Robert Redford ruled on what issues would be fair game and what would be inadmissible in the court case, expected to last two weeks.

Admissible items include the sometimes-profane names the Dawsons allegedly called each other; Timothy Dawson's alleged declaration that if he couldn't have Julia, no one could; Julia's alleged statements that she planned to leave her husband, alleged acts of control by the defendant against Julia and witnesses who say they saw bruises on Julia.

Redford said he would not allow statements alleging that Timothy Dawson caused Julia's bruises, nor allegations of abuse and control made by Timothy Dawson's first wife.

*****

Timeline

Nearly four years after Julia Dawson was last seen, the trial for her murder begins today for Timothy Dawson. Here's a history of their relationship.

Oct. 19, 2001 -- Julia Keenan, 19, marries 25-year-old Timothy Dawson in Rockford District Court.

Sept. 28, 2003 -- Julia gives birth to Alexander Lyle Dawson.

Dec. 13, 2004 -- Sparta Police Chief Andrew Milanowski tells the media that Julia has been reported missing and was last seen on Dec. 12. He said the Dawsons' green Dodge Caravan was found empty at Balyeat Park.

Dec. 14, 2004 -- Police say Timothy Dawson transferred $8,100 from a joint account with Julia to an account in his name.

Dec. 30, 2004 -- Julia's family offers a $5,000 reward for information that leads to locating her.

Jan. 3, 2005 -- Julia's father, Kevin Keenan, tells The Press that police discovered a woman's body near Pierson Road in Montcalm County.

Jan. 4, 2005 -- Police confirm the body is that of Julia Dawson and that she was the victim of homicide.

Jan. 8, 2005 -- The Rev. Frank Graves delivers the eulogy to Julia's family, including Timothy Dawson, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. "There is a murderer among us," Graves said. "Maybe even in this sanctuary."

Feb. 25, 2005 -- Julia Dawson's parents, Kevin and Tamara Keenan, ask a Kent County Family Court judge to order Timothy Dawson to give them "grandparenting time" with baby Alexander.

April 12, 2005 -- Kent County Sheriff's Lt. Mark Fletcher testifies in a child-custody hearing in Ottawa County Family Court that Timothy Dawson is the only suspect in Julia's slaying and his arrest is "not a matter of if, but when."

April 16, 2005 -- An apparent suicide attempt puts Timothy Dawson in Hackley Hospital in Muskegon.

July 2005 -- Timothy Dawson moves out of state, along with baby Alexander. They eventually settle near San Antonio, Texas.

June 6, 2007 -- Kevin and Tamara Keenan are granted visitation with their grandson in Texas.

Jan. 20 -- Timothy Dawson is arrested at the Kerrville, Texas, mobile home he shared with his alleged third wife and two sons. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Today -- Timothy Dawson's trial begins in Kent County Circuit Court. He faces mandatory life in prison if convicted.

 
 

Man arrested for wife's 2004 murder

By Julie Hoogland

January 26, 2008

Timothy Dawson was arrested Friday in Texas on a warrant charging him with the December 2004 murder of his wife, Julia, of Sparta.

Dawson, 31, is being held in the Kerr County jail 60 miles west of San Antonio, and will face an extradition hearing Monday on first degree murder charges in Michigan, Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said.

The body of Julia Dawson, 23, was found Jan. 3, 2005, along U.S. 131 in southern Montcalm County, several days after she disappeared. Almost from the start, Kent County sheriff's detectives identified Timothy Dawson as the only suspect in the case.

Julia Dawson's father, Kevin Keenan, said he was notified of Timothy Dawson's arrest.

"Things are finally happening," he said. "It's been three years. It's been tough. It doesn't make anything right. It's going to help a little bit. It's not going to close the door."

Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox scheduled a press conference for Monday morning, presumably to announce the arrest. Cox's spokesman, Rusty Hills, declined to confirm the arrest of Dawson, but said, "You can draw your own conclusions."

Hierholzer said his deputies arrested Dawson about 6:30 p.m. Central time at the Kerr County home, where he moved in 2005. Dawson has since remarried, Hierholzer said, and his office contacted child protective services to take custody of Alex, 4, the son he had with Julia.

Hierholzer said his office has been cooperating in the investigation with Michigan authorities for about a year. Dawson did not resist when officers arrived to arrest him, he said.

Kent County detectives believe Dawson killed his wife in a fit of anger, then tried to make it look as if someone else had murdered her.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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