Otsego County Man Charged With Open Murder

Joseph Zoran is being held without bond. Police say he killed a Gaylord man, whose body was discovered in a garbage bag downstate.

Joseph Zoran was charged with open murder Monday morning.

Police say he killed Robert Counterman Jr.

Hunters found his body in a garbage bag in Gratiot County more than two weeks ago.

On Friday, the investigation led police to a home on Dorothy Drive in Otsego County’s Hayes Township, just south of Gaylord.

On Friday, Gratiot County sheriff’s deputies were in Gaylord conducting interviews with Counterman’s family and friends.

They say what they found ended up breaking this case open and leading to Zoran’s arrest.

“This was an investigation that was fluid at times, and at other times was stagnant,” said Otsego County Undersheriff Matt Muladore.

An interview with Joseph Zoran led deputies to his trailer in Gaylord.

“It was an observation that the Gratiot County sheriff’s deputies made while they were talking to Mr. Zoran earlier that day, and they alerted us and the prosecutor what they believed they saw in there,” said Undersheriff Muladore.

A search warrant was issued for the trailer, which is next door to where Robert Counterman was living off and on.

The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office couldn’t tell us exactly what they found inside, but say it was physical evidence consistent with a murder.

“There was evidence that led us to believe that the crime occurred in that camper,” explained Undersheriff Muladore. “Now that we have reason to believe that it occurred here, this will be an Otsego County Case.”

Otsego County Prosecutor Brendan Curran says they are still looking for the public’s help in figuring out how well Zoran and the victim knew each other.

“We’d like to know more about the individuals involved, both the deceased Mr. Counterman and the person we’ve accused of murdering him,” said Curran.

Zoran faces a charge of open murder, but will likely face more than that as the investigation develops.

“I think it’s reasonably likely that we will be amending the complaint to add at least one more felony charge,” explained Curran.

We looked into Zoran’s past and found out he is a registered sex offender.

More than 10 years ago, while living in Minnesota, he was convicted of having child pornography.

Zoran is being held without bond and will be back in court on April 5.