College students try to help police with 2013 cold case of mother slain in Taylor

Chelsea Small fatally shot while working five years ago

TAYLOR, Mich. – Five years ago, single mother Chelsea Small picked up a shift at the Advance America check-cashing shop in Taylor. A man walked in around lunchtime, shot Small and stole a bank bag, police said.

Small's killer remains unknown and the case has gone cold, but Taylor police now have some new information to examine.

Dakota Bostic became very familiar with Small's case while he was an intern at the Taylor Police Department. When the case became the topic of his criminal investigations class project at Concordia University, he was invested.

"Once we got a case, everybody was on board, excited," Bostic said.

Frank Rubino teaches the class and Dan Chlebos runs the program. Both are former police officers and know how valuable fresh eyes can be on a case with a lot of dead ends.

"It's a cold case for a reason, so we were able to get to certain spots, then we were stuck," Rubino said.

"We used a lot of technology -- social media, Googling similar crimes," Bostic said.

"They dug and dug hard, and they did uncover some info that's interesting," Chlebos said.

"Another student -- I forget what he Googled -- found a similar crime with a suppressor, and that's where the hot lead came from," Bostic said.

It was a story about a stolen suppressor that matched the one used in Small's case, police said. In the end, the program became more than a grade. It was an opportunity to help a real family desperate to solve a loved one's murder case.

Taylor detectives are still investigating the new information.

Anyone with information about Small's case is asked to call the Taylor Police Department at 734-374-1420.

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.