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Michigan man sentenced for 1975 Door County murder

Posted at 7:50 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-06 10:28:37-04

A cold case from four decades ago finally reached a conclusion Friday with a Michigan man, 86-year-old Richard Pierce, sentenced to life in prison on a count of first-degree murder.

Decades ago, Pierce was stationed in Sturgeon Bay with the Coast Guard, where he lived with his wife Carol Jean. Previously filed court documents said Pierce’s wife disappeared around September 5, 1975. They were married for nearly nine years.

According to previous reports, prosecutors charged Pierce back in 2018. The 2018 report said the charges were based largely on witnesses saying he seemed unhappy in their marriage, her comments to neighbors that she thought he was going to kill her, and other discrepancies in his story.

Richard Pierce was found guilty back in April of first-degree murder and disinterment of the dead.

Carol Jean Pierce's body has never been found. Her brother spoke during the sentencing Friday.

"My mother’s heartache was tangible in her voice every time I talked with her about Carol Jean for those nearly 14 years,” said Brian Fillion. “My mother's last breath was taken without ever knowing what happened to her oldest daughter Carol Jean."

The sentence is the maximum allowable under Wisconsin law.