Parents of student killed in 2015 hit and run not giving up on case
It’s been two years since Julie Tsatsos lost her second son, and she says it doesn’t get any easier.
“It gets harder each day,” Julie Tsatsos said. “All we have are memories that we look at.”
Julie’s son, Macomb freshman Ryan Tsatsos, was killed in a hit and run crash Nov. 1, 2015, on Crawford Road between Billbrael Lane and Concourse Drive after walking back to his dorm from a Halloween party.
Donning a button with a photo of Ryan, Julie stood in front of reporters Wednesday at the Michigan State Police — Mount Pleasant Post. It marked the second consecutive year Julie and her husband, Paul Tsatsos, participated in a press conference on the anniversary of their son’s death.
Julie said she and Paul do not want to keep coming to Mount Pleasant every year and wait for his killer to come forward.
“We know two years ago on Halloween night, it was an accident,” Julie said.
Det. Sgt. Todd Parsons of the MSP said there have been about 100 tips received in the past two years. Police have followed up on tips from the Upper Peninsula to southeastern Michigan.
“We’re still working this case very actively,” Parsons said. “We need the public’s help. We need someone to call in with a little bit of information that will help us bring closure to this family. They deserve it.”
On Oct. 16, the Isabella County Sheriff’s Office shared a photo from Crime Stoppers of Flint & Genesee County with information about Tsatsos' death. A cash reward of up to $10,000 is still being offered.
Police believe the car that struck Tsatsos is a dark metallic blue color that could likely have front passenger side damage and potential fender, windshield and hood damage.
Prior to CMU Homecoming Weekend, Crime Stoppers gave the MSP space on a billboard on Mission and High Street.
Paul Tsatsos said there have been a couple promising leads.
“We’re just pleased the tips keep coming in — the well hasn’t dried up, so to speak,” he said.
Paul said Halloween has been “terrible” for the family. He said he and his wife can’t pass out candy and can’t handle seeing children in costumes.
Ryan Tsatsos graduated from De La Salle Collegiate High School in 2015 and played football. Julie didn’t let her son suit up for the Pilots until his senior year, when Tsatsos earned a state championship ring.
When Ryan moved into his CMU dorm, his parents bought him a care package and sent it through the mail. Julie recalled Ryan looking at the package, saw it said “mom and dad” and responded, “who’s that?”
The Tsatsos’ have a photo of Ryan smiling with the care package.
“He was shocked that I did that,” Julie said.
Paul said he would take time off work and spend time with Ryan. When Ryan would come home on Sundays, Paul would tell his boss he would be in later, in order to drop his son off back in Mount Pleasant.
Paul said while Mount Pleasant has been a supportive community since Ryan's death, the drive doesn't get easier.
“The drive up here, I just think back to when he was having hard times, I would drive up, be with him for a little bit and make sure he was ok,” Paul said. “I remember that every time I make this drive. It seems to get harder and harder.”
Julie begged her son to come home for Halloween 2015. Ryan planned to surprise his mother with a visit home on Sunday, Julie said.
“Reliving that is the hard part,” Julie said.
Paul and Julie are urging anybody with any information to come forward.
“This has got to end one way or another,” Paul said. “Somebody knows something. Even if they don’t think it’s significant, say something because the police are putting a puzzle. Once in a while you’re going to find that jigsaw piece that puts the picture together.”
Julie said knowing the person who killed her son is still out on the loose is what makes it hard.
“Accidents do happen. He was a teenager, too. Was he perfect? No. Did he do something stupid from time to time? We all do,” Julie said. “We’re not perfect. If it was an accident, it’s ok. Just confess. Just say you did this.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, blankets composed of pictures flanked the podium, including quotes from Ryan’s friends. The Tsatsos’ oldest son, Darryl Tsatsos, died in a crash earlier in 2015.
Tips can be submitted anonymously by visiting crimestoppersofflint.com or by calling 1-800-422-JAIL (5245).