Court documents reveal brutal murder of homeless man in Lansing

Published: Oct. 17, 2017 at 10:24 PM EDT
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Court documents obtained by News 10 reveal what police say happened the night a homeless man was murdered in Lansing.

John Darnell Jr. was found in a creek behind McLaren hospital on Oct. 13. Police believe Darnell was killed around midnight on Oct. 11.

The Ingham County Prosecutor has identified the three suspects in the homicide investigation as 27-year-old Brandon Lee Addiss, 26-year-old Amber Shauna Marie Kohls, and 26-year-old Matthew Ryan Green.

Brandon Addiss was arrested by the Michigan State Police First District Fugitive Team on Oct. 12 for an outstanding parole violation warrant.

After his arrest, police received a call from Amber Kohls' father. He informed police that Kohls confessed to committing a homicide that her, Brandon Addiss, and Matthew Green were involved with. Green, and Kohls, told her father that they had committed the murder in self defense, and had hidden the body.

It didn't take long for police to make contact with Green and Kohls, separate them, and take both of their statements. Kohls indicated she was involved in Darnell's murder. Green claimed he was only involved in disposing of the body.

Green led police to where the homicide took place. Police believe the crime scene was a makeshift campsite where some homeless men had been staying for a few weeks.

NOTE: Some of this information is graphic, and may be disturbing to read.

The Medical Examiner found that Darnell suffered eight stab wounds to the front of his body, and nine stab wounds to the back of his body. He also had a large laceration to the top of his head, and five cuts into his throat on either side. Darnell suffered fatal injuries to both lungs.

Green told police that during the night of Oct. 10, he joined Kohls, and Addiss at the campsite, and they began squatting in the tents. Addiss confirms this in his interview, saying that the three had been staying in abandoned houses and were on the move to avoid his parole officer.

According to Green, Darnell returned to the campsite that night, and found the three of them living in his space. All three suspects say they were friendly with Darnell, and even though it was the first time they met him, they spent several hours talking.

The suspects say they were not drinking or using drugs that night. However, they did indicate that the victim was drinking heavily.

At one point, they say the friendly conversation took a dark turn. The suspects say Darnell became upset with them, and said things like “I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to eat you. I’ve done it before. I did it in the war.” Police have not followed up on that statement. Police say the three suspects were afraid of Darnell even though Darnell did not attempt to physically harm them.

According to Green, Brandon Addiss initiated the attack on Darnell. He says Addiss was strangling the victim when Kohls approached with a knife and began stabbing Darnell repeatedly. During this attack Addiss got his hands on the knife, and stabbed Darnell too.

In her interview, Kohls told police she was in possession of a locking knife at the time of the homicide. She also admitted she was the first person to stab Darnell.

Green says at this time he had a panic attack, and did not take part in the killing of Darnell. Addiss corroborates this information in his statement.

According to Addiss, the attack started because Darnell had threatened to call the police on them, and snapped. Addiss told police that he tackled Darnell to the ground in the tent, and began strangling him - and that's when Kohls stabbed Darnell in the chest. Addiss says he got the knife, stabbed Darnell in the back, and then him and Kohls took turns attempting to cut Darnell's throat.

Kohls indicated that after Darnell was dead they tried to burn the body inside the tent. Addiss denies burning the body. However, the medical examiner found a thermal injury to the victim's left shoulder.

Green says all three of them assisted with wrapping the body in a tent, and hiding it. When police found him, Darnell had been wrapped in a tent, and put in the water. The tent was tied to a tree to stop the body from floating down stream. The suspects are also accused of putting bikes, and garbage on the body to weight him down so the body wouldn't float.

After hiding the body, Green says they took Darnell's car, and his wallet which had between $100 and $200 in it at the time. The suspects fled to Fort Wayne, Indiana in the car they stole.

On October 12 they returned to Lansing because Kohls was supposed start a new job at a fast-food restaurant. When they returned Addiss was arrested on an outstanding warrant, and shortly after Kohls' father told police what he knew about the homicide.

On October 14, Addiss and Kohls were charged with open murder, while Green was charged with accessory after the fact to a felony. All three suspects were arraigned in 54-A District court in front of Judge Larkin.