Eastpointe police arrest suspect after missing woman found dead in drain

By: Andy Kozlowski | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 3, 2023



EASTPOINTE — A woman missing since late spring was found dead in a storm drain, and authorities in Eastpointe have apprehended a suspect.

The case of Samantha Guinther, 47, was brought to the attention of Eastpointe police in September when one of the woman’s daughters reported that her mother was possibly missing and had not been heard from since June 18. The daughter told police that her mother was known to not return phone calls right away, but that too much time had passed for her to have not responded.

Police began investigating locations that Guinther had been known to frequent, shifting their approach from a missing person case to a possible homicide scenario. Through extensive interviews and use of technology, police zeroed in on her last known address: The Erin Park condominium complex south of Stephens Road on the east side of Hayes Avenue.

With the help of the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, a search warrant was executed Oct. 25, leading to the arrest of two persons of interest. One was the victim’s son, Justin Jackson, while the other was a friend who has since been released from custody.

Further investigation led to the discovery of Guinther’s body, which had been put into a storm drain west of Jackson’s home. Eastpointe police worked with the Macomb County Technical Rescue Team to locate and retrieve the body, and the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the body as Guinther’s.

Jackson was arraigned Oct. 27 in 38th District Court on one felony count of murder, first degree, punishable by life in prison without parole; one felony count of tampering with evidence in a criminal case, punishable by more than 10 years or imprisonment for life; one felony count of concealing the death of an individual, punishable by five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine; and one felony count of lying to a police officer in the investigation of a violent crime, punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Jackson’s attorney, Gary Francis Kennedy II, did not return a request for comment by press time.

Corey Haines, the interim police chief for Eastpointe, praised the work of his detectives.

“The Eastpointe Police Department worked tirelessly on this investigation to investigate every possible lead in an attempt to locate Ms. Guinther,” Haines said during a press conference Oct. 27. “Eastpointe detectives, with very little information, were able to put all the pieces of this investigation together and locate Ms. Guinther, and take the person responsible for this heinous crime safely into custody. The solving of this case with very little evidence at the onset is another shining example of the hard work, determination and dedication of our Police Department.”