Friday, December 28th, 2007
Family has vigil to mark man's death
Relatives hope reopened case yields 'justice'


Times Herald

WALES TWP. - One by one, friends and family members of Robbie Simpson placed candles in front of a large white cross on Lapeer Road near where he died.

Family planned the candlelight vigil for Thursday night, on the one-year anniversary of Simpson's death.

"As we light these candles in honor of you, Robbie, the flames represent our grief, our courage, our memories, our love and our pursuit for justice," read Simpson's cousin Alyssa Steele.

Simpson, 25, died Dec. 27, 2006 from a gunshot wound to the head. Police said his death was a suicide, but family disagreed, saying Simpson was killed.

For the past year, they've been working to reopen the investigation into Simpson's death. Last month, the St. Clair County Sheriff Department reopened the case after getting new information. They also are working with the Michigan State Police.

Sheriff Capt. Barry Brockdorff said the investigation is continuing. He couldn't release further information.

Simpson's fiancée, Lesli Crawford, 26, of Burtchville Township spoke during the small ceremony in a yard on Lapeer Road near Castor Road. Crawford and Simpson had a daughter together, Jenna, who will be 3-years-old in February.

"She knows her daddy is in heaven," Crawford said of her daughter. "I tell her he's in the sky with the angels."

During the vigil, Crawford spoke about the family's quest for justice and how much Simpson is missed.

"Others may see today as being the one-year anniversary of our loss, but these candles represent the 31,536,000 seconds we have all thought about and missed you over the past year," she said.

The event was planned by Simpson's sister, Marie Sontag, and his aunt, Laura Steele.

More than 30 people came out to light candles, remember Simpson and comfort each other.

"It's sad," said Simpson's grandmother Anna Jackson. "Yet we really wanted to do this to honor Rob; to celebrate his life, not his death."

Contact Shannon Murphy at (810) 989-6258 or


Times Herald photos by KEITH KING, Times Herald

MEMORIES: Heidi Chapman of Lansing lights a candle with others in Goodells Thursday night during a vigil for her cousin, Robbie Simpson, who died one year ago.


REMEMBERING: Friends and relatives gather in Goodells Thursday during a vigil for Robbie Simpson


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