Michigan man convicted in killings of 4 women dies at 78

COLDWATER, Mich. – A Michigan man who was serving life sentences for the 1972 killings of four women in the Kalamazoo area has died after being found unresponsive in prison, a correction official said.

Staff found Danny Ranes, 78, unresponsive on Jan. 29 at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater and he was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, told the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Ranes was convicted in the slayings of Pamela Fearnow, an 18-year-old Western Michigan University student; Claudia Bidstrup and Linda Clark, both 19-year-old Chicago residents; and Patricia Howk, 29, of Kalamazoo Township.

He was sentenced to four life sentences and was not eligible for parole.

Ranes, then 28, and Brent Koster, then 15, had killed Bidstrup and Clark in July 1972 after the Chicago women stopped for gas at a Kalamazoo service station where Ranes was working.

In August 1972, Ranes and Koster kidnapped, raped and killed Fearnow, who was attending Western Michigan University.

Koster’s testimony helped convict Ranes in the killings of Clark, Bidstrup and Fearnow, as well as Patricia Howk, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in March 1972.

Koster was granted parole last year by the Michigan Parole Board.

Ranes' death brought little joy to Fearnow's sisters, Laurie Locke of Muskegon and Betty Shimel of Ludington.

“As I think about things, it all brings tears to my eyes,” Locke said Friday in an email. “As a family, we have been robbed of Pam, what she was and what she would have become.”