Prosecutor: Second Tuscola County woman kidnapped within one week

Jeffrey Innes Wendorf
Jeffrey Innes Wendorf

A Sanilac County man charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman Sunday in Dayton Township faces up to life in prison for the alleged abduction – the second reported within a week in Tuscola County.
Jeffrey Innes Wendorf, 57, Decker, was arraigned Tuesday and is charged with five counts: kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, second degree criminal sexual conduct, and aggravated assault. He’s in Tuscola County Jail on a $700,000 bond.
The alleged incident occurred a Sunrise Sunset Food & Spirits, 2772 E. Sanilac Road, in Dayton Township. The victim was a 31-year-old female who “was attacked in the parking lot of the establishment and suffered physical injuries,” said Tuscola County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Reene.
Reene said it’s important to note that this incident is not connected with another alleged abduction that occurred in Tuscola County’s Wells Township one week prior, on Oct. 30.
The Wells Township case remains under investigation by Michigan State Police, Reene said, and “is being worked on every single day by multiple investigators.”
“That’s one of the problems,” he said. “You have one (alleged kidnapping) that remains open, and then this one occurs and is resolved.”
Reene said it was too early for specifics to be disclosed about the alleged incident involving Wendorf in Dayton Township on Sunday.
However, he did say that Wendorf and the victim and Wendorf did not know each other, and that he allegedly waited for her in the parking lot. He did not want to comment beyond that with regard to any further details.
Reene said Det. Scott Jones and Sgt. Michael Mattlin, both of Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department, served as primary investigators. They were able to piece together the alleged assault using surveillance cameras at Sunrise Sunset and interviews with witnesses, among other tools, Reene said.
Corey Michalski, owner, Sunrise Sunset, said she bought the business four years ago and has gone out of her way to create a fun, safe environment for her customers, including beefing up the business video surveillance.
“I work really hard for it to be a safe place to be so this is really hurtful,” she said.
Michalski told The Advertiser she worked with police to help them put together the sequence of events that unfolded Saturday evening into Sunday morning, including providing immediate access to all security footage and helping coordinate witness accounts.
“I spent all Sunday morning with police, looking at the footage, scouring the tapes for everything, so that we could put it together” she said.
Michalski said much of her staff noticed Wendorf acting “strange” throughout the night, which made it relatively easy to connect him with the alleged kidnapping and assault. Dayton Township kidnapping map
Michalski said she hopes Wendorf is prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.
State records show that Wendorf became a registered sex offender in 1989 after being convicted in Sanilac County Circuit Court of first degree criminal sexual conduct.
He is identified as a “Tier 3” offender, which includes but is not limited to a prior conviction of rape, attempted rape, and/or kidnapping a minor
A probable cause hearing has been set for Nov. 21 at 8:15 a.m. and a preliminary exam is set for Nov. 28.
The alleged kidnapping and assault from Sunday is the third high-profile kidnapping case in Tuscola County this year.
Michigan State Police Lt. Todd Mapes told The Advertiser last week that a woman was allegedly abducted between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Oct. 30 on Riley Road between Pierce and East Dayton roads after she saw a man on the side of the roadway and stopped her vehicle to assist him before she was forced into his car.
The victim was allegedly driven to an unknown location and assaulted in the suspect car, a dark color, older Chevrolet Lumina.
Mapes said the woman was brought back to the same location and later received some medical attention. Anyone with information on that case is asked to call MSP-Caro Post at 989-673-2156
“We’ve literally had these events a week apart and all we can continue to do is reiterate to people to be as vigilant as they can and as aware of their surroundings as they can possibly be,” Reene said.
“But we fully recognize there are limitations to that,” he said. “Sometimes there are actions focused on perpetrating events and it’s very difficult to prevent.”
In August, David Alex Brigham, 48, Unionville, was charged with two counts of kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and 18 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Brigham faces up to life in prison on eight of the counts related to kidnapping and first degree criminal sexual conduct, which by legal definition includes sexual penetration.
Brigham is accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old Millington area child in the middle of the night and sexually assaulting her for hours before his arrest. That case is pending the results of psychiatric evaluations of Brigham.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at andrew@tcadvertiser.com

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