Court hearing adjourned for Grayling man charged with open murder
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Court hearings for a 55-year-old Grayling man accused of killing a woman who he had a family with and lived with for several years have been delayed until later this month.
John Robert O’ Connor, who was charged with one count of open murder, appeared in the Crawford County District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 27, for a probable cause hearing; however, the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office and Don Sommerfeld Jr., O’ Connor’s defense attorney, stipulated to adjourn the hearing until all information and police reports are available for review.
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert, reporting that Kukulski was missing. K9 units from the Michigan State Police (MSP) searched the area where her cell phone signal was last reported. Deputies from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office also canvassed the area looking for information regarding Kukulski’s disappearance.
On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Kukulski’s van was discovered in Clarkston in Oakland County in the parking lot of a Big Boy restaurant. The Oakland County Crime Lab processed the vehicle and discovered blood in the vehicle.
O’Connor and Kukulski lived together for 29 years, and had three children. The couple was estranged when the incident occurred.
Kukulski went to the home, located off of Chase Bridge Road in Grayling Charter Township to retrieve a couple of items. The couple got into argument, which became physical.
Police made a traffic stop on O’Connor’s vehicle, when he left his property on Wednesday, Dec. 13. He was taken into custody without incident.
The detective and a deputy from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office talked with O’Connor several times while he remained jailed.
O’Connor allegedly confessed to killing Kukulski, but claimed it was an accident.
O’Connor told police he drove the van downstate, then called relatives in the area. He claimed that the van had broken down, and he needed a ride home.
K9 handlers and deputies took O’Connor to the area where he said he left Kukulski’s body. Kukulski’s body was found off a trail road located off of Mapes Road near the Crawford County-Oscoda County line on Thursday, Dec. 14. O’Connor was arrested that day and was arraigned in the Crawford County District Court.
O’Connor faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, if convicted. He was denied bond, and is being held in the Crawford County Jail.
A felony pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m. on Jan. 22 to address future courts proceedings.