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Van Buren Co. cracks home-invasion case
VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Van Buren County detectives cracked a nearly year-old home invasion case this week.
26-year-old Eric Cornell is now in jail, accused of tying up and robbing an 85-year-old man in his home in Bloomfield Township.
The incident happened last March, and it turns out the victim has known the suspect for years.
Cornell is charged with home invasion, unarmed robbery, and unlawful imprisonment.
The victim, Biff Diamond, and his girlfriend Betty Webster, believe that Cornell was targeting a cash prize he'd spotted the night before.
"The minute I opened that door, he just shoved me right back," Diamond remembered about that night last March.
State Police say Eric Cornell knocked Diamond to the ground, tied him up, and looted the home, but now they've got him.
It turns out that Biff and Betty may have had a pretty good idea all along about who was responsible.
"Just by the way Biff said when he opened the door, he said, 'hey Biff, how ya doin?'" Betty told us.
She said that's the way Cornell would often greet Biff, while she was working at the Sweet Town Bar in Bloomingdale.
Betty said Cornell would be down there every Saturday night.
The night before the home invasion, Betty put on a St. Patrick's Day dinner at the bar, and put out a donation jar to help with the cost.
She said Cornell was there as well.
"He just acted funny around the jar," Betty recalled. "He stood around it most of the night."
The next morning, that's what the crook was looking for.
"He asked, 'where's the big jar,'" Betty said.
A couple weeks after the home invasion, she says Cornell showed up at the bar again.
"He said, you know I love you and Biff a whole lot; and he said if I ever find out who did this, I'll get a baseball bat and hit em in the head," Betty said.
"So I'm wondering if I can take a baseball bat to him now," she finished with a laugh.
Whether or not it was Cornell, the crook never did find the jar.
Betty said there was only about $14 in it anyway.
A number of other valuables were taken, though, that have not been recovered.
Cornell is due back in court next week.