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Annette Bennett cannot believe her brother Freddie Parker is involved in the death of Janet Chandler. Parker and five others are accused of the kidnapping, rape and murder of the Hope College student.

Bennett said her brother had left Michigan a day or two before Chandler was killed and was in West Virginia when it happened. "My brother is innocent. My brother would not hurt a flea," said Bennett, 41, of Belle, W.Va.

The web of secrecy those who charged in Chandler's case have woven is not surprising. The decades that those involved have kept quiet is, said Vernon Geberth, the detective that developed and wrote extensively on homicide investigation techniques.

Geberth, who is retired from the New York City Police Department Bronx Homicide Task Force, has written extensively on murder investigations and trained police investigators. Geberth has been brought in to consult on major cases around the nation, though he is not involved in the Chandler investigation.

The Chandler murder case is unique, Geberth said, not because sexual relationships fostered anger, resentment and jealousy, but for the alleged conspirators¹ silence for the last 27 years.

"They all had mutual interest in keeping quiet, or they're all going down together ... I have never heard of this many people keeping it quiet this long," Geberth said, "Once you have people in custody, you target the weak link. It's in everyone¹s best interest to give up what they know some are less culpable than others. It starts out as a leak, then becomes a waterfall of information."

Five new arrests bring the total accused in Chandler's murder to six. Investigators arrested Robert Lynch, 66, of Three Oaks, in February of this year and charged him in connection with the 1979 homicide. Lynch's trial is set for January 2007.

The five men, including Lynch, were working as security guards for the same company at the time of the killing and were in Holland because they were on assignment at a local labor strike. Lynch, Nelson, Parker and Williams were temporarily residing at the Blue Mill Inn, while Paiva lived in a corporate guesthouse near the site of the strike. Swank worked as a night-shift supervisor at the hotel and is accused of "enticing and encouraging the men to do what they did," Cox said. Chandler was assaulted and slain at the guesthouse, Jan. 31, 1979, then her body was dumped near the highway, police said.

The West Virginia Gazette and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Nathan Peck at nathan.peck@hollandsentinel.comor (616) 546-4279.

Nathan Peck
Staff Writer

The Holland Sentinel
54 W. 8th Street
Holland, MI 49423

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