Suspect arrested in Chelios bar murders
1/3/2007 9:29:36 AM
DETROIT (AP) - A 17-year-old former employee of a downtown sports bar owned by the Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios was arrested in the stabbing deaths of the restaurant's manager and a cook.
The bodies of Cheli's Chili Bar manager Megan Soroka, 49, of Dearborn, and cook Mark Barnard, 52, of Detroit were found Tuesday morning at the hockey star's eatery.
"We believe, just based upon the information right now, that it is a former disgruntled employee that may be responsible for these two murders," Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings told reporters for the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.
The suspect had been fired by the bar about a month ago, said police spokesman James Tate. He could be arraigned on murder charges Wednesday morning.
Soroka and Barnard were found on the restaurant's second floor and were believed to have been killed just before 9 a.m., said police spokeswoman Yvette Walker.
Friends and family say Soroka was an important part in Chelios opening his downtown sports bar. Dedicated and trustworthy, she helped make the bar an instant fan favourite, they said.
Chelios "counted on her for everything because he travels so much," said Lisa Septer, a relative of Soroka who worked with her years ago.
Barnard's mother, Gwen Sharpe, said her son recently told her about problems with an employee.
"I never dreamed it would be carried out like it was on Mark and that poor woman," said Sharpe.
Police questioned other employees who were inside the restaurant at the time of the slayings. The three-story building, which is next to Comerica Park - home of the Detroit Tigers - was cordoned off, and police were scouring the roof.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred at our establishment this morning," Chelios said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims - they were wonderful employees and were part of our family.
"We are co-operating fully with the Detroit Police Department in their investigation and are hopeful the perpetrator will be brought to justice in quick order. We appreciate the community's support at this difficult time."