Former neighbor arrested for murder of 81-year-old in burning car in 2011

Image 1 of 3

Darrin Bruce Keener, 52, was arrested for the murder of an 81-year-old woman found in burning car in 2011.

It's been almost seven years since an 81-year-old Southfield woman was found dead inside a burning car in Highland Park and police say they've arrested her former neighbor for the murder.

Helen Gale was found burned beyond recognition in November 2011 in Highland Park.

Police were called to a car fire in the alley behind the 100 block of Buena Vista early that morning. 

The fire department put out the fire and found a body in the vehicle. The car was registered to the 81-year-old woman from Southfield and her body was identified via dental records. The investigation revealed that the fire was intentionally set and the death was classified as a homicide. 

In January 2012, an arrest was made but that person was not responsible for the death and police were still investigating.

Five years later, in 2017, the Southfield Police Department worked with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Unit and Cold Case Unit and found more information in the case. That information led them to 52-year-old Darrin Bruce Keener, the former neighbor of Gale.

According to police, evidence showed Keener killed Gale and burned her body and vehicle.

In the six years since her death, Keener had relocated to Toledo. On Friday, May 11, U.S. Marshals arrested Keener at his home. 

He waived his extradition to Ohio and was arraigned on Monday via video. He's has been charged with homicide and mutilation of a dead body. He's being held without bond and is due back in court on May 23rd.