Friday, May 23, 2008


This Friday night at 10:00 EDT don't miss a Dateline NBC special featuring a landmark cold case prosecuted by WCI's Donna Pendergast (pictured left, making her closing arguments). Last fall, Donna achieved justice for college student Janet Chandler (pictured below), who was brutally gang raped and murdered in 1979.

Though local, state, and federal authorities investigated the slaying, the Chandler case went unsolved for decades. Interest was revived in 2003, when a documentary professor at Janet's alma mater, Michigan's Hope College, interviewed a detective from the Holland Police Department. According to Delayed Justice, the instructor was gathering information for a production "focused on how reporters can best work with the police to get the facts to the public without harming an investigation." At the end of the interview, the professor asked the detective for the case that still haunted him. Without hesitating, he said, "Janet Chandler."

"He might as well have carved that on my heart,” the instructor said. “The idea of looking at a 25-year-old unsolved homicide - and this one in particular - called to me."

The case also called to Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast. Authorities involved Donna after the aptly described "Hope students" had stirred public interest in the murder with their documentary. "Who Killed Janet Chandler?" became the impetus for a Cold Case task force formed by Michigan State Police and the Holland Police Department.

On resurrecting the case after all those years, Donna said, "We had to let the victim's screams out of the boxes and binders that had contained them for so many years, because justice is a concept that never gets old even though a case gets cold."

The killers had gotten away with murder for twenty-eight years, longer than Janet lived on the planet. Even with a case that cold, Donna managed to secure six murder convictions. All in a day's work for our Donna Pendergast, who's been called Michigan's top murder prosecutor. Watch her in action this Friday on Dateline, which airs at 10:00 p.m. EDT on May 23rd. (Listen for soundbites from Donna's closing arguments here.)


andy kahan said...

Congrads once again Donna,

You shoud consider relocating to Houston--we need more bull-dogged proseuctors who are not afraid to buck the odds.

Donna Pendergast said...

Thanks Andy
Glad to see that you are a reader of our new venture. Take care and keep fighting the good fight.

Leah said...

You did an awesome job Donna. I am sure this has to be bitter sweet for the Chandler family. What those people did to Janet was utterly disgusting.