BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP (WWJ/AP) – A skull found in a wooded area about 20 miles southwest of Detroit has been identified as belonging to a woman reported missing six years ago.
The Wayne County medical examiner’s office identified Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet through dental records and anthropological testing of the skull, spokeswoman Sarah Bazzi said Thursday.
No cause of death was determined.
A man searching for deer antlers found her skull Feb. 15 in Brownstown Township and took it to police.
An expanded search of the area turned up what police say are the rest of Collier-Sweet’s remains in a shallow grave in a swampy creek.
“I can say with 100 percent confidence that we have found Lizzie Mae,” said Brownstown Deputy Chief Robert Matthews.
Matthews said Thursday’s findings are certainly suspicious — but he stopped short of saying this is a homicide investigation.
“We’re treating it as a suspicious death at this time. We won’t know anything until the scene is fully processed,” Matthews said.
Collier-Sweet was 49 when she last was seen in January 2007 after her Brownstown Township home burned.
Police said they found evidence of foul play in the home and Collier-Sweet’s diary where she revealed that she was scared of her husband. — fearing him so much that she slept on the couch next to a hammer and a shotgun. The two were in the midst of a divorce.
Her husband, Roger Sweet, was sentenced in 2008 to 15 to 30 years in prison for the 1990 murder of his first wife, Marlene Sweet. He came under suspicion in that slaying after Collier-Sweet disappeared.
Roger Sweet’s defense attorney, Jerome Sabbota, said his client pleaded no contest to murder at that time because he was going to prison anyway.
Roger Sweet already had been sentenced earlier in 2008 to 21 years and 10 months in prison on an unrelated federal case. Prosecutors said then that he produced pornography using a 16-year-old mentally disabled girl.
He also was sentenced in a Wayne County court to 10 to 17 years on related sex-assault charges.
Roger Sweet claimed that, when he left the house on the morning Collier-Sweet disappeared, his wife was alive and sleeping on the couch.
He denies any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.
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