Family needs answers in the 11-year-old cold case murder of Waterford couple

Posted at 11:21 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 23:14:07-04

A couple from Waterford was shot to death while they were sleeping.  Family and police have a suspect in mind, so why has this case gone cold?

“Coward.  He’s a coward to go in there at night while they’re both sleeping and shoot someone like that,” said Ken Kanehl, Sr.

It’s been 11 years, but Kanehl and his wife Jessie remember every terrible second of July 6, 2005.  That was the day a police officer told them their son Ken Jr. had been murdered.

“He said, ‘you don’t know?’ And I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He goes, ‘he’s deceased.’  And I went, ‘what??’  I said, ‘I have to tell my husband this? How am I supposed to tell my husband this?’ I’ve got to tell him.  And I got up and I just looked and him and said, ‘Kenny’s dead,’” said Jessie Kanehl.

In the summer of 2005, 39-year-old Ken Kanehl Jr. and his girlfriend, 41-year-old Pamela Barnes, had just moved in together.  They were renting a house on Brunswick Blvd. in Waterford Twp.

He was a mechanic, and she was an occupational therapist.  Both Pam and Ken lived for their children.   Ken had a 15-year-old daughter, named Kylie.

“Kenny and Kylie were best friends – that was his only child,” Jessie Kanehl told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo. “She hasn’t been right since.”

Pam had a 9-year-old daughter, but family members say the girls had not been getting along.  They also say Ken Jr. had been having second thoughts about the relationship, because of problems with the father of Pam’s daughter.

“He wasn’t happy that his daughter was living with our son,” said Jessie Kanehl.

Pam’s daughter spent the 4th of July weekend with her father.  The Kanehl’s say Pam’s ex was supposed to bring the girl back that Sunday morning, but he didn’t.  Pam and Ken Jr.’s bodies were not found for three more days, when police officers arrived to do a welfare check.

“It was a very targeted, specific act.  They were both asleep in bed, so they never saw anything coming, There was no sign of a struggle,” said Waterford Twp. Police Det. Sgt. Brent Ross.  Sgt. Ross says a killer – or killers – got into the home and shot both Pam and Ken several times. 

“Walked right back out, locked the door on the way out. There was no forced entry. Nothing was taken,” said Jessie Kanehl.

According to police records, the father of Pam’s daughter is listed as their Number 1 Person of Interest.  The police report shows that he refused a polygraph test twice.  The Kanehl’s say he even made odd comments at the funeral home.

“Kylie, our granddaughter, said that he said to her ‘it will be okay now, it will be all better now,’” said Jessie Kanehl.  “I just thought it was very odd that he would go to his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend’s funeral home.  I thought that was really inappropriate.”

Family members say Pam had been getting ready to go after her ex for thousands in back child support.
Records show detectives interviewed dozens of people, but eventually they hit dead ends.  Five years later though, investigators searched the yard of a home 17 miles away in Milford.

“There was a shooting in Milford that we were made aware of by Milford officers that had a lot of the same similarities.  We were not able to ever make any conclusions that they were associated but they are very similar,” said Sgt. Ross.

And guess whose name also came up in that unsolved 1996 Milford shooting as a possible suspect?  Pam’s ex.

“We always hope that someone will come forward that knows something about it and that would give us our last little piece that we can go forward with,” said Sgt. Ross.

“I will go on until I take my last breath.  I’m not going to give up hope and I’m not going away and I want the person who did this to know-- I am not going away until you’re arrested,” said Jessie Kanehl.

We are not naming that Person of Interest because he has not been charged.  7 Action News did speak to his father, who says his son is absolutely innocent, and this whole ordeal has been horrible.

If you have any information for detectives, please call Waterford Police Sgt. Ross at 248-618-6105. 

You can also call Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.  There is a $2750 reward for information.