Larry Souter

Newaygo County, Michigan
Date of Alleged Crime:  August 25, 1979

Larry Pat Souter was convicted in 1992 of the 1979 murder of 19-year-old Kristy Ringler. One evening, Souter had met Ringler at a bar and became friendly with her. When the bar closed at 2:20 a.m., the two left with several others to continue the party at the home of Anna Mae Carpenter, which is located off of M37 (State Route 37). While everyone else was inside, Souter and Ringler went out into the front yard of the house and became amorous. At some point Ringler decided to go home, walking northbound along M37. Souter followed her for 20 to 25 feet, trying to persuade her to come back and get a ride, but he soon abandoned his efforts and returned to the party.

A short time later, at 2:55 a.m. motorists found Ringler lying unconscious in the middle of M37 about 900 feet from the home of the party. She had two wounds to her head and died from them later that morning. Once word of the incident reached the party, the partygoers and Souter walked up to Ringler's location. Along the way Souter tossed a pint-sized whiskey bottle, from which he had been drinking, into a ditch along the side of the road.

Police later retrieved the bottle, from which lab analysis revealed a trace of blood. The investigation into Ringler's death led to some disagreement on whether Ringler was hit by a car or by a foreign object such as Souter's whiskey bottle. No charges were filed and the case went cold.

In 1991, a new sheriff was elected who was committed to solving cold cases. His office uncovered no new evidence regarding Ringler's death, but a doctor who previously had thought Ringler had been hit with a bottle wrote a stronger report, which concluded that Ringler's injuries were caused by the bottle and that it was “virtually impossible” that a side mirror on a car could have caused the injuries. In 1992, Souter was tried and convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 20 to 60 years of imprisonment.

In 2005, a witness came forward after she read about an appeal filed by Souter. She recalled that her father's motor home had a broken side-view mirror in 1979 and he had refused to talk about how it was damaged. Police records show the woman's father had told investigators that he had driven on the road where Ringler was hurt at about the same time that her body was found. The woman's father had died about five years before she came forward. In light of this new evidence, Souter was freed from prison.  [3/08]


References:  Souter v. Jones

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Michigan Cases, Vehicle Related Cases