May 3, 2001
Czinki to face trial in Horn's slaying
- David Paul Czinki, 36, will face second-degree murder in 1994 slaying of Katheryn Lynn HornBy PATRICK SULLIVAN
Record-Eagle staff writer
GAYLORD - Late in September of 1994, John Loshaw was driving on a remote two-track when he saw a gray-looking girl slumped against a tire well inside a van and a man standing nearby, digging a hole.
He thought he should report the unusual sight to police, but when he tried to call on his cell phone, he couldn't get a connection.
More than five years later, after reading a newspaper account of unsolved cases, Loshaw realized what he saw could be evidence in a murder investigation. He picked up a telephone and, this time, got a dial tone.
Loshaw's tip prompted prosecutors to file charges in the death of Katheryn Lynn Horn, a sophomore at Traverse City High School who was last seen riding in van in Mancelona the night of Sept. 23, 1994.
Wednesday, Otsego District Judge Patricia Morse found prosecutors had enough evidence to try the driver of that van, David Paul Czinki, 36, on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Horn.
Czinki, who is serving a six- to eight-year sentence for a 1996 conviction for receiving stolen property in an unrelated case, faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Otsego Prosecutor Kevin Hesselink said Loshaw's tip, received in December 1999, was a factor in filing the charges. He said he waited because he hoped police would find more evidence, but none turned up and waiting too long could prejudice the defense.
Hesselink concedes he has no direct evidence tying Czinki to the death of Horn, but the circumstantial evidence collected by police convinced Morse to conclude Wednesday that the case points to Czinki "in every direction."
That evidence includes testimony from Horn's friends who last saw her alive driving in a van with Czinki, remarks Czinki made to police, and a witness who said Czinki became fascinated by a similar murder case in the wake of Horn's disappearance.
Hesselink also presented testimony from Loshaw, a crane service owner from Vanderbilt who said he was out for a scenic drive when he saw a man fitting Czinki's description standing next to van, holding a shovel.
Loshaw said he could not tell whether the girl in the van - who "had a real gray look to her" - was alive or dead.
Scott Bley said he watched live music with Horn and two friends at a coffee house in Gaylord the evening she disappeared. The group's ride home fell through, he said, and Czinki, who Bley said he did not know, offered a ride.
Czinki dropped off Bley and two others at a party store in Mancelona just before 2 a.m. Bley said he protested Horn's plans to go on to Traverse City alone with Czinki, but Horn insisted and refused an offer to stay the night in Mancelona.
Czinki told police he drove the group to Mancelona but insisted he let Horn out of his van in Mancelona after a dispute.
"Did you ever hear someone hollering at you, 'Hey, wait for me, I changed my mind?'" Defense lawyer James Deamud asked. Bley said he did not.
Testimony was unclear about whether Czinki knew Horn before that evening. Horn's friends said they didn't know Czinki, but an acquaintance said Czinki bragged a day or so before the disappearance that he intended to meet a 16-year-old girl.
"He grabbed his crotch and said, 'I'm going to get 16-year-old --,'" said Anthony "Buddy" Sloan. "I told him that if it was my daughter, I'd cut his thing off."
After the disappearance, Sloan said Czinki became fascinated by the case of Andrew Wynkoop, a Charlevoix man who pleaded guilty in 1991 to murdering a 13-year-old girl and a 28-year-old woman.
"He wanted to know every little thing ... 'How did Andy get caught? What did Andy do with the bodies?'" said Sloan, who was also an acquaintance of Wynkoop.
An Antrim County Sheriff Deputy told of a bizarre encounter with Czinki in March of 1995. At the scene of a drunken driving accident, Czinki asked Deputy John Fant whether he should "take the rap" for his friend for the accident.
Czinki told Fant that he had taken responsibility for a drunken driving case for his friend a month earlier, and wasn't sure whether he should again, Fant said.
"He started to walk away and then he said, 'Well, I might as well take it because I'm going to prison for life anyway,' and then I asked him what he meant by that and he said, 'Well you know, with Kathey Horn.'"
Czinki asked Fant to drive him to Hudson Township in Charlevoix County so he could camp, but Fant arrested him for making a false police report.
Two months later, a mushroom hunter discovered Horn's skeletal remains in Hudson Township - about three miles from where Horn's clothes were discovered 10 days earlier and about a half mile from the house where Czinki grew up and his parents still live.
Michigan State Police detective Kevin Day said he drove Czinki on a two-track to where Horn's clothes were discovered. Day said he wanted to watch Czinki's reaction, and said when they came to the spot Czinki turned his head away.
When Day drove Czinki back to the spot minutes later and showed him photos of the clothes, Day said Czinki blurted, "'You've got all the evidence, what's to say at that point?'"
Czinki then asked for a lawyer and the questioning stopped, Day said.
Hesselink argued that both encounters with police incriminated Czinki.
Deamud maintained the statements were not confessions, but frustrated responses because he knew he was under suspicion.
"It was pretty clear in his mind that they were out looking for him as a suspect," Deamud said.
Investigators are not certain in what county Horn died, so Hesselink applied to the Michigan Attorney General to have Otsego County designated as the venue for the case.
Patrick Sullivan is the reporter for crime, courts and public safety. He can be reached at (231) 933-1478, or at firstname.lastname@example.org