This article was last modified on June 11, 2018.


Edward Norman Cramer and ???

The years of 1976-1977 were a dangerous time for those living in the Upper Peninsula between Marinette and Escanaba. At least two sadistic killers were on the loose… possibly three.

84-year old Lauretta (or Loretta) Sinnen of Menominee went missing in November 1976. Her disappearance was actually first noticed by the local priest, as she had been a daily attendant at church and stopped showing up. A search involving both local and state detectives ensued, with no trace of her for over a month. “Our department has used every means available to determine the nature of Miss Sinnen’s disappearance and at this time we find ourselves no closer to a solution than we were the first day of our investigation,” police chief Donald Campbell said in December.

Hugh school freshman Rachelle Boden, 14, disappeared from Gladstone on December 28, 1976 and was found dead and partially decomposed in Masonville on May 1, 1977. She had died by strangulation. Her father, Joseph W. Boden, was well-known in the town of Gladstone. He was a postal worker who has previously worked for the state Department of Corrections. In 1973 and 1974, he ran for city office. There was no indication that Rachelle was targeted because of her father.

Escanaba resident Judy Flath, 18, went missing on June 30, 1977. She was last seen in Gladstone and several weeks later her wallet, birth certificate and rings were found partially burned in a trash barrel at a private residence in the Days River area. For over six months, no one knew where she could be found.

On August 1, 1977, someone broke into the home of Harry W. Nelsen at 320 Huston Street in Marinette. His hands were tied behind his back, and he was hit in the head with a blunt object. The blow did not kill him immediately, but he suffocated from mucus in his lungs while he was lying on his kitchen floor unconscious. A few items from the home were stolen. There were no leads, and Marinette Police Chief James Krei was looking into the possibility that Nelsen’s death was connected to the murder of Lauretta Sinnen. He said there were “some similarities” but “it would be really stretching things” to try and make any positive connection.

On September 29, 1977, Laura Allinger Gardiner, 21, was supposed to be closing up the Side Track bar in Powers, but when her parents arrived at bar close she was nowhere to be found.

Around the same time, Karen Erickson was assaulted in Harris, Menominee County.

Gardiner was found dead in a field in Gourley on October 2, 1977, approximately 12 miles southeast of the tavern. A helicopter overhead spotted her abandoned body. She was brought to Marquette General North Hospital for autopsy, with the procedure being performed by Dr. R. L. Carefoot. His results were turned over to prosecutor Craig Rolf in Menominee County. The results were not immediately made public, though the authorities did say the cause of death was strangulation. Detective Leon Wildey indicated that “a cloth material” had been used in the murder. Officials
refused to reveal whether or not she had been sexually molested.

On October 6, 1977, while the Gardiner corpse was in the possession of the funeral home, Ayers, the deputy medical examiner for Menominee County, without the consent of the family (but with the permission and consent of funeral director Kell), removed the hands and hair from the corpse.

Edward Cramer, 21, was arraigned on November 7 in Menominee on the “open charge” of murdering Gardiner.

On November 22, 1977, the Allinger family attended a preliminary examination of Edward Cramer, charged with the murder of Allinger. During the examination, it was revealed in open court that Ayers severed the hands and hair from the body of the deceased. This was the first time that the Allinger family learned of these actions, and, as a result, allegedly suffered mental anguish and emotional distress, resulting in various physical illnesses.

On December 28, the Escanaba Press reported, “Persistent rumors continue that other bodies have been discovered in the area. (State Police detective) Wildey stressed there is no truth to those rumors. ‘There are no other bodies,’ he said.”

On July 13, 1978, Cramer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Judge V. Robert Payant. (Interestingly, Dickinson County did not have its own court until 1969, and Payant was the original judge.) Cramer appealed the decision, but the appellate court upheld his conviction in April 1980. As of 2018, he is confined at Lakeland Correctional Facility.

Also try another article under Historical / Biographical
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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