A Michigan man who was arrested last year as a teenager with the body of a 62-year-old woman in the back of the pickup truck he was driving was recently charged with murder and sexual assault, authorities said.
Stephen Lee Freeman, 20, was initially charged with concealing the death of a person and receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle. He was also accused of aggravated murder in one case. He is also charged with first-degree murder, criminal sexual conduct and home invasion, according to a report Press release issued by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office.
The crimes involve the death of Gabrielle Seitz, who was killed on October 27, 2022. After a minor traffic accident that same day in Roseville, Michigan, the person driving the blue pickup truck fled the scene, according to law enforcement. About 30 minutes after the accident, Seitz’s body was found in the back of the truck.
“I opened the tailgate,” Roseville police Detective Chris Moran testified at Freeman’s arraignment in a court report Macomb Daily. “I saw what looked like a blanket in the back… I pulled back the blanket and the first thing I saw was a human leg. Based on my years of training and experience, my first reaction was that it was a deceased person.”
Police said they used cell phone videos to identify the defendant as the driver who tried to escape but was arrested.
On November 4, 2022, Freeman was given the opportunity to be released from prison. The judge overseeing the case at the time noted that the first two charges against him were “not high-level offenses” and he was granted bail of $75,000. However, the defendant was homeless and unemployed at the time of his arrest and could never afford bail.
He remains in custody at the Macomb County Jail since his arrest.
In mid-November 2022, almost two weeks later, Freeman’s bail was revoked and the aggravated murder charge was added. At the time, prosecutors alleged that the defendant broke into the victim’s apartment through a window while she was away. Later, when Seitz returned home, an altercation ensued in which the woman was killed while the man drove away in her truck, police said.
Prosecutors claimed the victim appeared to have been strangled with a shoelace. It was still on the woman’s neck when she was found, and her body showed “obvious signs of strangulation,” according to law enforcement.
The investigation continued and authorities concluded Seitz’s murder was premeditated, according to prosecutors. Authorities did not release any information about the sexual assault allegation.
“My office has increased the charges against Stephen Freeman to reflect the seriousness of his alleged actions,” Macomb County District Attorney Peter J. Lucido said in a statement. “We are committed to pursuing truth and accountability. Thank you to the Roseville Police Department and the Michigan State Police for their comprehensive investigation.”
The new charges resulted in Freeman’s case being transferred to Macomb County Circuit Court on November 9th. The first trial took place in the 39th Roseville District Court.
If convicted as charged, he could face life in prison.
Gabrielle Seitz’s son remembered her fondly.
“She was the sweetest person in the world who everyone loved,” Justin Omans told Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ. “She made people laugh…she loved to dance, sing, everything. She was just a perfect mother, a perfect friend, a perfect sister to everyone who knew her.”
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