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COLD CASE FILES: What Happened to Shirley Pullen?

By Kristin Bien
Published On: Feb 04 2014 06:01:12 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 04 2014 06:08:15 PM CST

Do you know what happened to 70-year-old Shirley Pullen in 1986? She was last seen at her Niles Township Trailer on New Years Eve. Police believe she was murdered that night, and her body has never been found. WSBT's Kristin Bien digs into this latest cold case.

NILES -

Police say there are people who know what happened to Shirley Pullen.

The 70-year-old Niles Township woman was last seen on New Year's Eve 1986. Police are convinced she was murdered, but her body has never been found.

The case didn't get much publicity back then and for the most part, she has been forgotten. But police say there is still a possibility for justice if only for Shirley herself.

There is no one left to wonder about what happened to Pullen except Michigan State Police Detective Fabian Suarez.

"I would love to bring a close to this investigation," says Suarez.

Pullen had no children. All of her siblings have passed away, and her husband died before her disappearance. But Suarez is not giving up on trying to figure out what happened to her.

"Going by all the circumstantial evidence, she was abducted and killed," says Suarez as he looks through the case files.

Pullen lived in a trailer park off south 13th Street and Bell Road in Niles Township.
Back then it was called the Windward Village Mobile Home Park. She owned two trailers there -- one at lot 152. The other at lot 129.

"She initially lived at lot 129. She then decided to buy another lot and she moved down to lot 152 then she began to rent lot 129 out," says Suarez.

By all accounts she was a creature of habit and always paid her rent on time - until January 1987.

On the 16th, the office manager reported her missing, saying she hadn't paid rent, and no one had seen her since New Year's Eve.

"From the old reports, when they got to her trailer, they reported that it seemed like someone had just left. There was a plate of food on the table. I believe her coat was there. I believe her purse was there. Appliances were on. It just looked like she disappeared," says Suarez.

And it didn't appear she had planned to leave either. The initial police report said her cigarette had been allowed to burn out in the tray, food had spoiled and her luggage was still in the shed.

As police began to investigate, they discovered the couple renting her trailer at 129 had been using a credit card in Pullen's name after she disappeared. They had spent over $1,000 on a washer and dryer, a microwave, a vacuum and a coat.

And years later, a woman who lived in the trailer park told police she recognized the man from that trailer as one of the people she saw arguing with Pullen the night she disappeared.

"It was late in the evening, she heard yelling. It obviously sounded like a domestic. There was a fight going on. She said she peered out and she could see the front door, Shirley Pullen was there, the door was open. She could see figures standing in the doorway. She could hear loud yelling," recalled Suarez.

Police believe there were at least 4 men at Pullen's home that night, and all of them know what happened.

"I do believe that was the night that she met foul play. She disappeared and was never seen again," says Suarez.

Over the past 26 years, there has been no sign of Pullen. Her Social Security checks have gone uncashed, her bank account untouched. But police say someone knows what happened, and that someone could help solve this case.

"As always, I know someone out there has information. Unfortunately, the people we believe are responsible for Shirley Pullen's disappearance and death are still out and about," says Suarez.

And while her body has never been found, police believe there was more than one person involved in Pullen's disappearance and death. Suarez says one of those people probably told someone else what they did. That is what police want to know.

In fact, Suarez says one of the people there the night she disappeared was a juvenile at the time. In 2005, as police were investigating this case again they learned that person had told several others about his involvement. When police started to put pressure on him to talk, he killed himself. But they don't think he was the one who killed Pullen.

If you know anything, call the Michigan State Police, Niles Post: (269) 683-4411