Original Headline Articles from Two Homicide Cold Cases in Saline - Still Unsolved


Headlines from The Saline Reporter on Two Homicides in 1981 Document Photo Credit to Saline City Library

The year 1981 in Saline, was a seemingly daunting time as multiple murders happened in the area. One that made the front page in what was once known as, The Saline Reporter, still comes up in media sources as recently as 2021. Mary Alice Ellicott, a 29-year-old Mill Valley resident was murdered in Saline, her body was found less than 2 miles from her previous employer, The Polar Bear where she tended bar. Ellicott was reported missing by an acquaintance on October 14, 1981 and was last seen leaving The Polar Bear on October 11, 1981. The establishment now goes by the name Thompson's Bar and Grill located on US-12 in Saline.

Ellicott was found with multiple stab wounds by local hunters at 9:45 a.m. in a grassy field between Macon and Roehm Road two weeks after the murder. According to authorities, Ellicott had quit her job at The Polar Bear a week prior. Some witnesses reported Ellicott leaving the bar between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. but had no information of her whereabouts after her disappearance. According to the Saline Reporter in 1981, “At least two acquaintances of Ellicott have undergone a Police polygraph examination,” “INVESTIGATORS said that they are not sure when or where Ellicott was killed.”

In March of 2021, three retired police officers including Chief James Douglas, who was Police Chief on the case in 1981, joined efforts to reopen the cold case. A team was assembled who was eager to help get the case solved which also included Michigan State Police officers, and assistance from faculty at Michigan State University. Police are still seeking any public knowledge of Ellicott's death.

A second tragic headline article covered by The Saline Reporter on Wednesday, October 21,1981 was about the death of a 39-year-old Adrian man, Theral Carl Heldt. Heldt was found murdered on October 17, 1981, underneath a bridge that some may know as “Troll Bridge," on Maple Road near Milkey Road. His body was recovered by a man who was in the area taking pictures, and according to The Saline Reporter, the man stated, “That's it brother, it's a body.”

Heldt’s cause of death was by a gunshot wound in his upper back, and it was under the assumption by authorities that he was murdered at a different location and his body was placed underneath the bridge. It was believed at the time that Heldt was shot within 48 hours before he was found.

Further investigation uncovered that Heldt was shot inside his 1975 Chevrolet Nova, and that the vehicle was driven and left in Toledo, in a Kroger parking lot. Supposedly, the suspect then fled the scene in a maroon Thunderbird. Though the actual location of where Heldt was shot is still unknown, as well as any major suspects. Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office still seeks any public information on the case.

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