Homicide victim Jeremy Allan Barron’s body was found in this wooded area in Amish country. Thomas Novelly | Col­legian

Author­ities have iden­tified the recent homicide victim whose body was found Sunday by a group of Amish children as they were riding their horses through a wooded area southeast of the town of Reading.

“The Michigan State Police Crime lab per­sonnel iden­tified the victim as a Jeremy Alan Barron, age 37, of 3351 Steamburg Road in Hillsdale, Michigan,” police said in a Wednesday evening press release. “Detec­tives trans­ported the fin­ger­prints to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab Wednesday where the pos­itive iden­ti­fi­cation of the victim was deter­mined.”

Barron has had pre­vious run-ins with Hillsdale law enforcement. According to the Hillsdale Daily News, in Feb­ruary, Barron was scheduled for a pre­lim­inary exam­i­nation hearing on charges of third degree criminal sexual conduct. In 2015, he was arrested for driving with an open con­tainer and a sus­pended license.

On Sunday, police said they responded to a call at 3:52 p.m. after a group of Amish boys stumbled upon the body of a deceased male near the inter­section of Dimmers Road and Gilmore Road. An autopsy per­formed by the Lucas County Coroner’s office in Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesday iden­tified the man to be in his mid-to-late 30s. The cause of death was iden­tified as gunshot wounds.

The victim’s body was found roughly 15 miles southwest of Hillsdale College.
Katie J. Read | Col­legian

“We’ve had several homi­cides through the years,” Parker said. “There have been some that have been a lot more heinous.”

The area where the body was located, about 15 miles southwest of campus, is pop­u­lated by numerous Amish com­mu­nities and farms.

Joseph Graber, a 12-year-old boy who lives less than a mile away from the crime scene, was one of the four Amish children who dis­covered the body on Sunday as they were riding through the coun­tryside. Graber said when he saw the body, he didn’t think it was real.

“We thought it was a clown or a fake or some­thing,” Graber said. “Once we saw it we got really scared and rode home and told the neighbors to make a call.”

Graber and some of his family members riding with him went back to get help. His friend, 15-year-old Lavern Eicher, sep­a­rated from the group and rode back to his home to tell his family.

“As we were starting through the woods, I saw a pair of pants and some shoes. I thought it was a rag or some­thing, and I joked ‘I guess that’s all that must have been left of him,’” Eicher said in an interview with The Col­legian. “But when I got closer, maybe 10 feet away, I was sur­prised to see it was a man.”

Eicher said that the man was lying face-up, sprawled out. While he said he couldn’t remember much about the man’s physical char­ac­ter­istics, he thought he had black hair.

When Eicher later found out that Barron was dead, he said was scared and con­cerned.

“I felt shaky, I didn’t know what the deal was,” Eicher said.

Anna Marie Eicher, Lavern’s mother, said she found the murder very trou­bling.

“He was pretty scared,” she said. “Things like this don’t happen here, I’ve never wit­nessed some­thing like this.”  

An Amish buggy off of Gilmore Road, just blocks from the crime scene.
Thomas Novelly | Col­legian

Res­i­dents who live outside of the Amish com­munity also said they were dis­turbed by the news. Connie Johnson, who can see the wooded crime scene from her front porch, said she couldn’t sleep after hearing about the homicide.

“I’ve lived here for 54 years and I’ve never seen any­thing like this,” Johnson said. “I really didn’t think that some­thing like that happens here. I never would’ve dreamt of it.”

Parker said they are pur­suing leads on a pos­sible suspect, and that they’ve been receiving numerous phone calls to assist with the case.

“It’s been a period of time since we’ve had a homicide,” Parker said. “But the sad part is that Hillsdale County is not immune to vio­lence.”

Police said they encourage anyone with addi­tional infor­mation to call the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office at (517) 437‑7317.

  • Penny Swan

    Nice job reporting Thomas. Hope­fully they can get whoeve did this soon.