Michigan double murder: The Unsolved 2005 killing of Pamela Jean Barnes and Kenneth Kanehl Jr

Published: Updated: 0 comment

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — All Pamela Jean Barnes ever wanted was to get married and have a home to call her own, her mother once said. At 41 years old, she was still single. She had a daughter, but Barnes and the father never tied the knot, and their relationship eventually dissolved.

Barnes finally found the love of her life when she met Kenneth Kanehl, Jr. in December 2004. The relationship progressed quickly, and the couple moved in together in April 2005. 

Both had good, stable jobs. Kanehl, 39, worked for Minacs Corp. as a troubleshooter technician for GM cars. Barnes was an occupational therapist.

Barnes and Kanehl had daughters from previous relationships — Kanehl’s daughter Kylie, 15, and Barnes’ daughter Alyssa, 13 (newer reports say nine). Alyssa’s father did not like her living with Kanehl. 

Barnes was preparing to take Alyssa’s father to court over thousands of dollars in back child support when the unthinkable happened.

Alyssa spent the 4th of July weekend with her father. He was supposed to take her home on the morning of Sunday, July 3, 2005, but he did not.  

Concerned family members called the Waterford police when Barnes and Kanehl failed to show up at a family function, and Barnes never showed up for work on Tuesday, July 5. Police went to the couple’s home in the 5400 block of Brunswick Boulevard on July 6 and found them both dead in their bed.

The victims were shot multiple times in the head while they slept, but the police never found the murder weapon. There were no signs of forced entry, and the back door was unlocked. Barnes’s purse was left in the home untouched.  

With no robbery or sexual assault, investigators were initially clueless to a possible motive and unsure of the exact date the couple was killed. 

Family members last saw Barnes and Kanehl at a party on July 2.

Alyssa’s father is the main person of interest in the case. He is now deceased. The local media did not name him because the police never charged him with the crime.

Kylie told her father’s stepmother the man approached her at the funeral home and said, “It will be okay now, it will all be better now.”

Police report shows he twice refused a polygraph test. Detectives interviewed dozens of people, but the interviews led nowhere, and the case stalled.

On Wednesday, September 22, 2010, Detectives from the Waterford Township Police Department and members of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Forensic Services Division executed a search warrant on the grounds of a residential property located at 755 W. Buno Road in Milford, Michigan. 

Waterford Township Police Department press release

Investigators executed the search as part of the ongoing Barnes-Kanehl murder investigation, police said. They indicated that an unsolved 1996 shooting in Milford was eerily similar to the double murder.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, 1996, Jennifer Peppard married Joe A. Anderson. Hours later, someone shot her father. 

Between 5 and 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 27, 1996, a masked intruder entered the rural residence of William “Bill” Peppard, lead pastor of Milford Assembly of God, and shot him with a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun. The 1-ounce lead slug put a 3-inch hole in the right side of Peppard’s chest and “came within an inch of his liver and two inches of his heart,” according to John W. Kennedy in a story from the Assemblies of God website

Peppard’s wife, Joanne, was next to him in bed, and their other two daughters were asleep in their bedrooms when the shooting occurred. The intruder fled and did not shoot the other members of the family. 

The intruder had cut the telephone landline to the home. Jodi, then 18, drove two miles to the nearest neighbor to call for help, which delayed Peppard getting to the hospital by 45 minutes. Leah, 16, made attempts to stop the excessive bleeding while Jodi called for help.

Peppard lost seven pints of blood but miraculously survived the shooting and walked out of the hospital 10 days later.

At his first sermon after returning to work, Peppard looked out among the congregation and saw the suspect sitting in a pew watching him. 

In 1989, Peppard had trouble with a particular male church member, who had joined the church not long after Peppard became the lead pastor in 1986. According to Peppard, the man was a loner and unmarried, and he and Peppard formed a friendship. However, the church member became obsessed with Peppard’s wife JoAnne and his oldest daughter, Jennifer. 

Kennedy wrote, “He hovered around her [JoAnne] in the nursery or kid’s church when she had ministry duties there. He even showed up at the nursing home where she worked as a licensed practical nurse, telling her how much he cared for her.”

JoAnne told him to leave her alone and that she was happy in her marriage. 

When confronted by Peppard, the man told him that he was a “horrible husband and terrible father” and the man was “going to have JoAnne and Jennifer,” Peppard said. When the minister asked the man what he meant, he responded, “I will marry them and have them sexually.”

The church’s ministry’s leaders demanded the member leave the church. Peppard had no further contact with the man, but seven years later, Peppard was nearly killed.

The church member and the man police believe shot Peppard are one and the same — Barnes’ ex-boyfriend.

After the 1996 shooting, police had no evidence tying Barnes’ ex to the crime because the shooter wore a mask and gloves. Furthermore, Barnes’ had given the man an alibi for the time of the murder.

While investigators never said whose property they searched in 2010, it most likely belonged to Barnes’ ex-boyfriend; he died in 2018. However, Redfin.com shows the Buno Road property sold on May 16, 2018.

Police gave no further information on the search and remain tight-lipped over the case, refusing to discuss it with local reporters.

Kenneth Kanehl Jr and Pamela Barnes: picture of family members in March 2007
Detroit Free Press March 2, 2007, via Newspapers.com

In 2007, frustrated the investigation was going nowhere, the families held a press conference pleading for information. They wanted to know if anyone had seen anything or anyone suspicious in the couple’s neighborhood on July 3, 2005 — the night police think the intruder shot them. They also wanted to know if anyone had heard talk of who might have committed the crime. It was another dead end.

They have held subsequent appeals since. In 2016, police said the case is solved; they could not make an arrest due to insufficient evidence, and now their main person of interest is dead.

If you have any information about the case, please call Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAKUP. You can also submit a tip online. All tips are 100% anonymous. Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $3,250 for information.

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

Another case where we know who did it. Now the suspect is dead, so no arrest will ever be made. Talk about frustrating for the families.

Barnes’ ex was supposed to return Alyssa on the morning of July 3, but he didn’t. Why? I think it’s because he already had killed the couple and knew he could not return Alyssa to a crime scene. 

Police never found the murder weapon. Did the police check to see if Alyssa’s father owned any guns, precisely like the one used in the Peppard shooting? Did they search his residence in 2005? What came from the 2010 search? Who the hell knows? Police aren’t talking. 

I tried and tried to find the name of Alyssa’s father but had zero luck. Talk about frustrating. The local media did not name him when he was alive because the police had not charged him with the crime. If I knew his name, I’d blast it all over this post. 

I tried finding Alyssa, but not sure if she goes by her mother’s or father’s last name; I also could not find Pamela Barnes’ obituary, only Kenneth’s.

Alyssa may know her father killed her mom and Kenahl, but she has never come forward for some reason.

The primary motive in the Barnes-Kenahl killing was likely the child support money.

I fought tooth and nail to get child support from my ex-husband for over two decades. He finally paid it all back a couple of years ago. My kids are now in their mid and late-20s. He hated paying it and constantly told the kids I blew it on myself. He felt that I screwed him in court. My ex threatened to kill me and run off with the kids on numerous occasions.

Men are capable of killing over child support money. It’s lame, I know, but so is killing your spouse instead of filing for divorce. We know that happens quite often.

And don’t come here defending deadbeat dads. I dealt with one to the point I wanted to commit murder myself. If you help bring a child into this world, then you damn well better help financially support them. Otherwise, stop calling yourself “dad” and shut the fuck up. 

The motive in the Peppard shooting probably had to do with Jennifer getting married. If Barnes’ ex-boyfriend shot Peppard, what other reason did he have to wait seven years?

Police never found the shotgun used in the 1996 shooting. I wonder if it was the same weapon used to kill Barnes and Kanehl nine years later.

I’m sure there is some relief that the main suspect is now deceased. But there is probably a mixture of anger and frustration for never serving any time for the crimes he committed.  

Leave a Comment

About Me

True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

You cannot copy the content of this page!

Skip to content