The Search for Lizzie Mae Continues

It suddenly hit me when  I was standing on the Dix Road overpass outside the massive Rouge industrial complex.

Twenty years ago I was inside that complex, a young punk not too far removed from college, wandering aimlessly through life (actually that part hasn’t changed too much), in search of a career. My job then was to investigate work related accidents reported by Ford employees. There were some gruesome accidents that I really did not care to remember.

Now here I was, standing on the outside looking in, watching members of the Downriver Mutual Aid Alliance cruising the waterway outside of what was once Rouge Steel, looking for clues in another potentially gruesome incident. Except this was no accident that was being investigated. Far from it.

 Life has a strange way of hitting you sometimes.

The search for Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet continues. There was no resolution to her disappearance today. The optimist of course would say that means that hope can still be held out that she may still be alive. The realist knows otherwise.

Earlier in the day, Detective Lieutenant Robert Grant of the Brownstown Township Police Department met with the members of the team of area police, fire and rescue personnel that comprise the Downriver Mutual Aid Alliance. They were there to search for any clues in the disappearance of Lizzie Mae who has not been seen since her house in Brownstown Township burned down January 8. Her husband, Roger Sweet, remains the primary suspect in her disappearance and remains jailed in Oakland County on other charges which include the murder of his first wife in 1990 and the sexual abuse of a minor. Sweet guy indeed.

“We know Lizzie Mae was last seen by friends in Lincoln Park at 9:30 pm the night before the fire,” Lt. Grant briefed the assembled crews. “Her husband told us he last saw her before he went to work at around 4:30 am. When we asked where she was, he told us ‘she is probably in the woods after burning the house down’.” Grant clearly doesn’t buy Sweet’s account. “There were accelerants throughout the house and a delayed incendiary device was likely used,” which allowed Sweet to show up at work at 5:00 am as usual the morning of the fire.

“We know he (Sweet) is not a physically imposing person and if he was disposing of a body, he likely did not carry it far, ” said Grant, the disdain for the man he considers a murderer clearly evident in his voice. If the body of Lizzie Mae was to be found, it was hoped it would be in the nearby waterway, a likely disposal area.  

A jailhouse informant had given vague indication that Sweet may have disposed of his wife’s body somewhere near his place of work. A thorough search of the area was not posssible until recently when the weather brought about enough of a thaw to allow public safety crews to search the waters near the Rouge complex. But today’s search was not limited to the waters.

“We have about 50 people all together working this project today from throughout Western Wayne County,” Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans explained to me. “My role is to coordinate and offer help in any way we can to try to solve this,” he said when asked if his office would be taking a larger role in the investigation, “But this is Brownstown Township’s investigation and they are taking the lead.”

Today’s effort was a massive search that included the surrounding waterways, tributaries and creeks. Nothing was ignored. Searches were conducted via boat, horse and air. Even freeway entrance ramps and exits were searched for any clues and answers.  

I followed the water based search from the start point, behind the Melvindale Ice Arena and up and past the Rouge complex. The dedicated search crews came up empty however. It was a longhsot for sure and much akin to trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. They searched for any clues, from jewelery to clothing and anything else that the imagination could conjure up.

So another day passes without answers. At least no concrete answers. Will she ever be found? It is becoming less and less likely that Lizzie’s exact whereabouts will ever be known short of a confession from her suspected killer.

There was one bright spot though to today’s events as it appeares that the media has rediscovered this case. TV crews, newspapers and radio were all over the scene.

Let’s see how long their interest remains.

Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Violence, Media, Murder

2 Comments on “The Search for Lizzie Mae Continues”

  1. Mary Anne Blessing Says:

    Thanks for your detailed covering of this story.

  2. Becca Says:

    Hi, My name is Becca. I used to date Michael, Liz’s step-son. I also knew Cindy Sweet my long time best friend. I cannot believe anything like this ever happened. Every single time I ever went to their home to visit, it has always been fun, pleasant and relaxing. We always had good food there too. Pray to the lord that Liz is just hiding away right now and taking a break from all of this. She would of been my mother-in-law and what a beautiful mother-in-law she would have made if I married Mike. …

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