9-year-old Michigan boy accused of murdering his adoptive mother with rifle, officials say

Child charged with open murder

FAWN RIVER TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A 9-year-old Michigan boy is accused of murdering his adoptive mother with a rifle, according to authorities.

The small community of Fawn River Township, near the Michigan-Indiana border, is stunned by the alleged incident.

Pauline Randol, 51, was shot to death Monday morning inside her Fawn River Township home, police said.

Randol posted a picture of her and her husband in 2016 with the judge when she adopted the 9-year-old boy in Indiana.

Now, the boy is accused of shooting Randol with a rifle.

"I want people to know that he's not a bad kid," said Harley Martin, the boy's adoptive sister. "This was not something he would have just done just to be spiteful, to be mean."

Martin said her mother adopted the boy from a mother who had a drug problem, which caused many problems.

"He had a lot of mental issues that were not getting helped," Martin said. "He started on medication last week. Who knows how that reacted?"

Neighbor Joe Lancaster said he knew the boy. He claims the child often went unsupervised.

"Shooting a bow and arrow and a BB gun," Lancaster said. "He shot at my grandkids with the BB gun. I told him, 'I'll spank your butt if I catch you doing that again.'"

Martin said her mother was loving and caring.

"(She would) stop anything on a dime to help anybody," Martin said. "She bent over backwards for anybody. She was amazing."

The child is facing open murder and felony firearms charges. A preliminary hearing was held Tuesday. The child is in the juvenile justice system, officials said.

Martin said her little brother asked where his mother was Tuesday in court. She claims he has no idea what happened Monday.

Anyone younger than 10 years old is considered incompetent, so the child will likely end up with psychological exams as part of the case.

Here is a statement from T.J. Reed, the attorney representing the child:

"At this time, I can confirm representation of a minor who has been charged by the St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney's Office with one count of open murder and one count of felony firearm, in connection with an incident that occurred on May 6, 2019.

"Based on the severity of the charges and the age of the accused, it is important to keep focused on the future and long-term impact these proceedings and charges may have on a child of this age.

"At this time, I am unable to comment on the facts or status of the case. It is important to allow this case to properly move through the legal process and to non pre-judge this child based on partials or unknown facts. The child still retains his presumption of innocence and is entitled to privacy during this process and I would ask that the child and the family be given that privacy."

Here is a statement from Sturgis Public Schools Superintendent Art Ebert:

"Our community has experienced a tragic event. As a district, it is our goal to provide support to our students, staff and the community. We are limited in what we can share due to privacy laws and the sensitive nature of this tragedy. The St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation regarding this event that occurred outside of school, including the release of information about the investigation."

About the Authors: