Janet Chandler was raped and murdered in a brutal revenge plot — but her family only saw justice 28 years later following a documentary made by college students about her death.
Chandler, from a conservative Christian family, was working nights at the Blue Mill Inn motel while studying music at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, when police got a call saying there had been a robbery and that the 22-year-old was missing.
Her naked body was later found, on February 1 1979, by a snowplow driver.
Local residents were blindsided by the case but it went cold with no arrests made. However, in 2003 Hope College professor David Schock approached Janet’s father Jim and her brother Dennis about making a documentary focusing on her case.
That documentary led the students to uncover all sorts of questions about the case, and once finished Schock persuaded police to use the film to continue efforts to solve it.
A top-team of detectives then finally unravelled the mystery of what happened to Janet, in what turned out to be an elaborate kidnap plot organized by Arthur “Carl” Paiva, who was a security guard and staying at the motel at the time of the murder.
He had reportedly been in a sexual relationship with Janet and apparently became jealous after finding out she had allegedly slept with other guards, who were staying at the motel while monitoring a strike at a nearby plant.
A plan was then hatched to kidnap Janet and “teach her a lesson”. The fake robbery was staged and she was taken to a cottage and raped while others watched — before being strangled with a belt.
After the cold case was cracked, Laurie Swank, who was the night manager at the Blue Mill Inn at the time, along with another guard, Robert Lynch, both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and got 20 years in prison after agreeing to testify against their co-accused.
In 2007, Paiva was found guilty of first-degree murder, while James ‘ Bubba’ Nelson, Freddy Parker, and Tony Williams were convicted of second-degree murder and additional charges. All four were sentenced to life without parole. Paiva died in prison in March 2013.
The chilling case features on the latest episode of Investigation Discovery series Betrayed.
Betrayed airs Thursdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.