WARREN, Mich. (FOX 2) - “We have gone through the last 16 months of pure hell. There is no other way to describe it," said Betty Klingler.
She's the mother of Kenneth Klingler and says her life instantly changed on July 4, 2019, the night she learned her son was killed. And her life has still been changing up until the time she found out the three men originally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Warren investigation are now free because all charges were dropped.
“We are left now without justice for our son. That's hard for us to figure out how to get past all of this. How do we find closure in that? You don’t. You just can't.”
On Sunday, FOX 2 spoke with Chris Zehnpfenning, one of the three men now free of all accusations connected to Klingler’s death. He told us he and the other two men were giving Klingler a ride home when Klingler became combative.
"The altercation begins. He puts Nate in a chokehold and we basically had instincts to defend ourselves at that point," Zehnpfenning said. And then the next part is caught on video.
After a fight in the parking lot, the three men leave in their car and Klingler gets up and stumbles towards Mound Road. The medical examiner says the fatal injuries are consistent with that of being hit by a car - not of being beaten to death.
This video is a key piece of evidence that clears the three, but it also came as a complete shock to Klingler’s mother. She says she never knew the video existed until recently.
“I never personally watched the video because I didn’t need to see the video," she said.
She now says her family has been let down by the investigation and that it's caused her unneeded stress and anxiety. And the reason she was given for the charges being dismissed: “Because of the lack of an investigation.”
As far as the investigation goes, the four men were acquainted and were at a July 4th party together in Troy. Klingler was a friend of a friend and needed a ride home and the three agreed.
Police commissioner Bill Dwyer tells us he is disappointed the charges were dropped. He says he stands by his department and the work of his detectives.