Teens who cold-kill a couple in a park now have a chance at parole

It was a double kidnapping and murder case that devastated the family and made headlines across the country.

Joseph Passeno in 1989 and 2019.

In October 1989, the bodies of General Motors marketing director Glenn Tarr, 53, and his wife Wanda Tarr, 58, were found in a park in suburban Detroit by a woman walking her dog. Both were shot.

Their killers: Joseph Passeno, 17, and Bruce Michaels, 16.

Wanda was killed first. As she was driving near her home, Michaels stopped her armed with a pistol. Passeno joined him and they drove her to Hawthorne Park in Pontiac, stole $15 from her, and shot her dead.

Michaels and Passeno then went to the Tarr home, told Glenn that they had kidnapped his wife, and took him to an ATM where he withdrew $500 as a ransom. They then took him to a park and killed him near where Wanda’s body lay. He was shot six times.

The teens reportedly told friends about what they had done and they soon became suspects. After trial by jury in Oakland County District Court, both were found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and a host of other crimes.

On Monday – nearly 32 years after a judge sentenced the Tarr killers to life in prison without the possibility of parole – Passeno, 49, was sentenced to new terms of 40 to 60 years for the murders, giving him the opportunity to release before the end. decades.

The same thing happened to Michaels last November.

Both were resentenced by Judge Martha Anderson of the Oakland District Court.

Supreme Court rulings in 2012 and 2016 declared mandatory life imprisonment for juveniles unconstitutional, requiring cases to be heard again by a judge who can decide whether a lighter sentence is needed.

Bruce Michaels in 1989 and 2019.

The Tarr killings, according to Anderson, were “cold, vicious and cruel executions” and her “gut” tells her that Passeno and Michaels deserve to stay in jail.

But that doesn’t happen, she said, “I have to sentence according to the law.”

And according to the law, only those who are irreparably corrupt and not subject to rehabilitation remain in prison for life.

Referring to his prison record, Anderson said that Passeno is known for being a hard worker who keeps to himself and follows the rules of mental illness treatment. He escaped any major trouble during his incarceration, with only seven incidents of misconduct in more than three decades.

“Mr. Passeno’s prison record struck me a bit,” Anderson said.

The referee also said that Passeno was “adrift” and had no leadership when Michaels caught up to him. His young age and lack of understanding that actions have consequences were other factors, she said.

Before delivering a reduced sentence, Anderson heard from William Luscombe, son of Wanda Tarr and stepson of Glenn Tarr.

In a victim statement, Luscombe, 66, said he felt “a sense of peace and closure” when his parents’ killers were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole years ago. But this is no longer there.

Expressing concern that Passeno would kill again after being released from prison, Luscombe called him “morally corrupt” and a “cold-blooded psychopath” who killed for pleasure and fun. Passeno, in his words, “does not feel any remorse.”

The killings, Luscombe added, caused “incredible emotional pain, grief and anxiety” that continues to this day.

He asked the judge to grant “the longest term permitted by law”, noting that Passeno “showed no mercy” to the Tarras.

Minutes before learning of his fate, Passeno said that his crimes stemmed from “my own selfish greed during a period of my life when I was utterly irresponsible, lost and without any purpose.”

“That day I made a wrong decision that will never be corrected,” he said. “I cannot tell you how sorry I am for the devastation I have caused.”

Passeno also expressed deep remorse for his actions.

“This is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced and it is nothing compared to (the pain of family members). I’m really sorry,” he said.

Passeno’s sentence of 25 to 75 years for kidnapping and two years on multiple counts of felony with a firearm remains in effect.

Passeno is at the Ernest S. Brooks Correctional Institution in Muskegon Heights. Michaels is being held at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Muskegon. They are forbidden to contact each other.