A retired state trooper working as a warrant officer, Jim Bedell would visit the police department in the village of Constantine, Michigan, to track down deadbeats, and he’d be drawn to posters seeking information about the 2007 murder of a girl named Jodi Parrack.
“I had worked homicides before and I was bothered by the idea that it was an 11-year-old girl and the person who did this was still out there,” Bedell, 70, tells PEOPLE. “This guy needed to be located.”
A year after the murder, at the request of the village manager, Bedell took the position of Constantine’s police chief – making solving the murder a personal mission – and now Bedell believes he’s finally one step closer to reaching his goal.
On April 18, Raymond McCann, a former Constantine reserve police officer and close friend of Parrack’s family, was arrested on suspicion of perjury, as investigators released a lengthy felony complaint with a long list of what police are alleging as lies McCann told investigators about the case.
McCann has not been charged with the girl’s murder – her body was found in the village’s cemetery – though the investigation continues as Parrack’s family amps up the pressure on McCann. “Tell the truth,” the girl’s mother, Jo Gilson, said at a recent press conference. “Get it over with.”
As the first major development in seven years, police hope that he’ll provide information that’ll crack the case – and Bedell wants to be there when it happens.
The chief was so invested in the case that he organized a fundraiser to purchase a headstone for Parrack, who was buried in a family plot in the nearby town of White Pigeon.
The problem is that time is running out: Bedell’s retirement is set for May 30 – though the date is not set in stone.
“I’m sure they will want me to stay, and I probably will if we’re getting close,” Bedell says. “I want to retire with a conviction. I want to know who killed her, as does everybody in this village and everybody in the state. It’s an 11-year-old girl. We need to know [who killed her]. We need to get this person off the streets.”
For more about the Jodi Parrack murder mystery pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.