Reed City, Michigan is a small town in southwest Osceola County. In January 1983, 27-year-old Janette Roberson, her husband, and their two children had lived there for around 8 months, having moved from Georgia. Janette was a kind woman, having a love for animals and being a very loving mother; she was also described as “the quintessential homemaker”, by family friend Carrie Hudson. A close friend recalled how Janette once nursed an injured bird back to health However, she was more than a housewife. Janette held a job at Gambles, a local grocery store, where she worked in the pet department, located in the basement. All around, Janette was just a kind, generous young woman with an affinity for her family and animals.
However, her life would be cut short on January 19th, 1983, after she was found dead in the basement of the store she worked in. She had been brutally beaten, raped, and stabbed multiple times sometime between 1 and 4 p.m. that day. She hadn’t been discovered until a coworker went down to the basement in the supplies room where Janette had been doing her work. She had been murdered in broad daylight, as shoppers above her were none the wiser about what was happening just beneath their feet. The store had been relatively busy that day, yet not a single thing was heard. All the shoppers were identified and questioned, except for one man. A composite sketch was drawn, with the description of a white man, around 5’9 and 170 pounds, with sandy blond hair and a blue jacket.
The first suspect, as in many cases, was her husband, Alvin. An investigation soon discovered that Alvin had been having an affair. Even though their marriage was on the rocks, Alvin deeply loved Janette and would have never wished harm upon her. He was dismissed as a suspect. Alvin ended up moving back to Georgia with both of their children and soon after married the woman he was having the affair with.
Early on in the investigation, it came up that Janette had received two bizarre calls to her home just one day before she died, on the 18th. Apparently, she had picked up and nobody spoke, then hung up. Once this had become public knowledge, a friend of Janette’s, came out to the police and told them that Janette had been receiving strange and obscene calls like this for some time. However, all these leads lead to nowhere.
There has been nothing further discovered in the past 37 years since her death. DNA had been collected from the scene and her body, however, it has not been matched to anybody. This means that Janette’s killer has evaded being charged for any other crimes within 37 years. This murder was before DNA processing and collection became standard procedure for crimes of this nature. In the present day, Janette’s family holds an annual “Justice for Janette” walk to keep and bring new attention to the case, in the hopes of someone coming forward with legitimate evidence or tips.
Lana Jarvie, Janette’s sister, has her own idea of what happened. “I believe someone was infatuated with her — had a crush on her. My sister was very friendly and naïve, really. Whoever did this could have gone there to make a move and she rejected this person and boom. That was all it took…..Someone out there knows something. They need to finally come forward. The scary thing is the person who did this is out there somewhere. That’s terrifying because Janette was killed in a horrible way. What’s stopping this person from doing it again? We need to get them off the streets.” (99.1 WKFM)
No matter who killed Janette Roberson, it was a senseless and immensely tragic murder, and Janette is beyond beloved and missed by her family. Her family still holds out hope that one day, her killed will be found and Janette will receive the justice she deserves.
If you have any information in regards to the murder of Janette Roberson, please call (231) 832-3743. Here is a link to the Facebook page for Janette, including details about the next Justice for Janette walk: https://www.facebook.com/janette.roberson.1
The next Justice for Janette walk is on January 16th, 2021, nearly 38 years after her murder with no justice.
“Janette Roberson.” Facebook. Accessed October 29, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/janette.roberson.1.
Lloyd, Eric. “37 Years Later, Friends and Family Search For Janette Roberson’s Killer.” 9 & 10 News, January 20, 2020. https://www.9and10news.com/2020/01/18/thirty-seven-years-later-friends-and-family-search-for-janette-robersons-killer/.
Massieu, Cristina, and Emily Thompson. “Who Killed Janette Roberson? • Morbidology.” Morbidology, August 6, 2018. https://morbidology.com/who-killed-janette-roberson/.
Robinson, John. “UNSOLVED MICHIGAN CRIME: The 1983 Murder of Janette Roberson.” 99.1 WFMK. 99.1 WFMK, September 17, 2019. https://99wfmk.com/janette-roberson/.
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