It's a parent's worst nightmare to learn that their child has died before them. But when the child's life was taken in an act of violence, the grief is nearly unbearable. That's what happened to Nikki and Franz Brueger on July 30, 2016.
On that tragic day, their daughter, Ally, was shot and killed. She had been out for a run in her northern Oakland County neighborhood. The police began investigating immediately, but it seemed like there was a lack of evidence.
Seven years later, the Bruegers are still waiting for answers. The Michigan State Police cold case department has taken over the case, something the mourning parents are grateful for. However, it's not enough.
Nikki told WXYZ: “It makes me want to implore Madam Attorney General Nessel to conduct an independent review of our daughter's case.”
The Bruegers believe that the tragedy of losing their daughter and the killer getting away with it were avoidable outcomes. They say that the police mishandled the situation from the start. Their allegations include the mishandling of evidence and speaking to the press before any information was known.
With the officers doing that, it led to misinformation being shared on social media and other places. This made finding Ally's killer even more difficult, as people were citing evidence that was not real.
The Bruegers also indicated to WXYZ that the original investigators claimed that there was very little evidence for them to use. But those same officers assured the public that the case would be solved in short order.
That was not true.
When Ally's body was found, she was still alive. There was hope that she would be able to make it. Sadly, the hope was quickly diminished. This was not something that her parents knew before the cold case department took over the investigation.
Nikki told WXYZ: “They had to wait because Michigan State police weren't there yet. Six minutes that Ally was bleeding to death... It's just more horrible news, more devastating news.”
There was no answer as to why the officers were delayed.
Also cited as an example of the bungling of the case was Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw speaking to the press as the investigation was just beginning. He promised that the case would be solved.
As quoted by the Detroit Free Press, he said: “There are a lot of things at the crime scene that points us to that she knew who this was..."
His statement set the internet off on figuring out who might have done it. There were rumors and allegations, which seeped into the internet lore as truth. Many say that it's because Shaw was not telling the truth about that was happening.
In fact, the Bruegers shared with WXYZ that they were told that Ally likely did not know the person who killed her. They were briefed on the case by a new detective, and he said this was likely a random event.
Which makes solving the case much more difficult.
Suspect Not Found
With the misinformation floating around, the internet had targeted several suspects. None of whom have been charged by the police, nor is there any indication that they were ever a person of interest in the official investigation.
While a few people have been called in for questioning, and a few were asked to take a polygraph test, there have been no official suspects in Ally's case.
Franz says that he was one of the people who took a lie detector test. The police cleared him right after.
Another person close to Ally, who was a suspect, was her ex-boyfriend Wes Sutherland. He has denied any wrongdoing and has since been cleared by the police.
Shaw claimed that he was a suspect, even speaking to WXYZ in March 2018: “We have spoken with Wes. We’ve interviewed him a couple of times now. He’s a suspect in this incident..."
But the Bruegers say that is another aspect of the misinformation that has been shared. While Sutherland was looked at as a person of interest, he had an alibi.
They also point to the fact that many people cite four shots being fired, when in fact it was five. Nikki said to WXYZ: “This person shot her at such close range. And she was shot five times. Not four. They finally let me see the autopsy report...”
The Bruegers say that the new department has them hoping that the case can be solved. They are relieved to be dealing with what they call people who are more "professional."
Franz even suggested to WXYZ: “It is frustrating. Greatest wishes before you go — hopefully the case is closed.”