Brutal Detroit Robbery Leaves Vietnam Vet Dead Following Attempt to Protect Granddaughter

John Villneff, a 62-year-old Vietnam Vet and twice recipient of the Purple Heart, was shot and killed recently during a robbery which turned deadly. Villneff was attempting to protect his granddaughter who lived next door to him on Rutland when he was shot in the back and heart. Villneff’s granddaughter was taking pictures of the robbers using her iPad when Villneff attempted to push her to safety.

Five men robbed the girl’s west side Detroit home just before 11 p.m. on August 8th. According to news reports, Villneff’s son, Michael, received a call from his father that night reporting that he had been shot and was dying. Michael Villneff stated that the five robbers took various items including jewelry, a cable box and video game systems. He also stated that the men beat his 16-year-old nephew with a pistol and baseball bat before entering the home through a door which was unlocked.

The penalties for robbery are harsh; now, the men who robbed Villneff’s daughter’s home and killed him will likely be charged with murder as well. Without an aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer, the robbers likely face substantial time behind bars along with additional penalties. A conviction for murder could potentially draw a life-long prison sentence.

Apparently, the robbers chased Villneff’s granddaughter and were trying to kill her because they were aware she was taking photos of them. Melissa Villneff, owner of the home that was broken in to, said that her father called to inform her that her home was being broken in to as she was leaving a Tigers game.

According to news reports, two of the five robbers were friends of Melissa Villneff’s 19-year-old son. She said that the two had visited her home in the past. The 19-year-old was at home at the time of the robbery, along with three of Villneff’s nieces who were 10, 12 and 13.


Michigan armed robbery lawyers work to protect the legal rights and freedom of individuals charged with serious crimes. If you have been arrested for robbery, theft, murder or any criminal offense, it is urgent that you consult with a competent criminal defense lawyer right away.