Grandson charged in Ypsilanti Township woman's murder after grisly backyard discovery

What began as a welfare check for an elderly woman in Ypsilanti Township last week has escalated to a murder investigation after her body was found buried in the backyard of her home on Friday.

The 73-year-old homeowner and grandmother had been missing for several days when her family asked law enforcement for help. The responding deputy didn't see anything amiss when he arrived at the home on May 17.

But after noticing something looked off in the backyard, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's officer broadened his search - eventually making the grisly discovery. 

Now, the woman's 29-year-old grandson is a suspect in the homicide. Identified as Ronald Flemming, he was in court for the first time on Monday when he was arraigned on an open murder charge. 

Neighbors are still in disbelief as details of the crime have trickled into the public. 

"I just can’t believe it. It's a quiet neighborhood, she was a great neighbor. I’ve never seen any trouble around or anything," said one resident who lives nearby.

The sheriff's office first got a call for a welfare check on Thursday. When a deputy traveled to the single-family home on Warner in Ypsilanti Township, he only found Flemming, who was asleep at the time. 

"To the deputy’s credit, he did some pretty thorough investigation. He noticed and recognized something a little bit off in the backyard. What looked like a freshly-dug grave," said Derrick Jackson, the public information officer for the sheriff's office. 

It's still unclear why the woman was buried or how she died. 

Neighbors described the woman as retired who stayed at home most of the time. She had two dogs. 

The investigation is ongoing. According to residents, the grandson lived at home off and on.