In August 2015, a loving grandfather lost his life to a terrible crime at his Grand Ledge, Michigan, home. Jeffrey Kebler seemingly ordinary evening turned deadly when assailants broke into his house. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Grave Mysteries: Evil Among Us’ chronicles how surveillance footage and testimony ultimately led to the arrests of four people involved in the heinous crime. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?
How Did Jeffrey Kebler Die?
Jeffrey was born in June 1953 in Lansing, Michigan. He graduated high school in 1971 and later worked at Clark Farms. At the time of the incident, he was living in Grand Ledge. The family described the 62-year-old as a kind and loving father who was close to his family and loved playing with his three grandchildren. Jeffrey was known to love dancing and was considered a funny man. The family was looking forward to a vacation when the tragic incident occurred.
James Kebler, Jeffrey’s older brother, got a call from Jeffrey’s place of work on August 6, 2015. It turned out that Jeffrey hadn’t come in to work that day. Worried, James went to the Grand Ledge home only to find his brother in a pool of blood. Jeffrey had been stabbed and strangled to death, with the house ransacked. The motive clearly was robbery since several items were missing.
Who Killed Jeffrey Kebler?
In addition to some appliances that were gone, Jeffrey’s jewelry, money, and credit card were also stolen. The authorities then learned that two men were seen using one of Jeffrey’s cards at a store in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a few hours later. Surveillance footage from the store was made public, leading to Mitchell Ballinger, then 41, and Manuel Martinez, then 20, turning themselves in to the authorities.
Soon after, the police learned that two others were involved in the robbery: Alexis Pena, then 24, and Dominique Harris, then 20, who were already in custody on some unrelated charges. Eventually, Alexis agreed to testify in exchange for a lesser sentence. According to her, Mitchell was having some issues with money and decided to rob a house. For that, she said he asked for Alexis and Dominique’s help.
Therefore, one night in August, the three were looking for a house and came across Jeffrey’s. At the time, they believed it was nice and felt it belonged to someone with a lot of money. Hence, they decided to rob it. The following night, the three teamed up with Manuel and broke into Jeffrey’s house. According to Alexis, Manuel choked Jeffrey with a “rope saw.” Earlier, the four of them stole some rope saws from a store.
Alexis, Dominique, and Manuel asserted that Mitchell was their leader and claimed he coerced the others into taking part in the robbery and break-in. They stated that Mitchell ordered Jeffrey to be killed because he didn’t want to leave any witnesses behind. Once he was murdered, the four stayed back for a while, going through the house. They stole electronic appliances, money, credit cards, coin jars, and jewelry, among other things.
Where Are Mitchell Ballinger, Dominique Harris, Manuel Martinez, and Alexis Pena Today?
Ultimately, all of them pleaded guilty to their involvement and received decades behind bars; they were all sentenced in April 2016. Alexis received 20 to 60 years in prison for pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Prison records indicate that she remains incarcerated at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. As for Dominique, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree home invasion. He received 30-60 years for the murder and 8-20 years for the home invasion. Dominique remains incarcerated at Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Michigan.
Alexis and Dominique were also involved in a June 2015 death in Michigan and were later convicted of manslaughter, receiving additional years on their terms. The earliest Alexis can be released is in 2035; for Dominique, it’s 2053. Mitchell and Manuel also pled guilty to the same charges as Dominique. While Manuel received the same sentence as Dominique, Mitchell got 35-60 years for the murder and 10-20 years for the home invasion.
Prison records indicate that Manuel is serving his sentence at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. He will be eligible for release in 2060. On the other hand, Mitchell remains incarcerated at Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan. The earliest he can get out of prison is in 2062.
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