A Portage woman is dead and two Liberty Township men were in custody today,
charged in connection with a robbery-homicide on Friday at the Luke Oil
convenience store and gas station at 3 E. U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty
Township, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said.
identified the victim as Barbra Heckman, 42, the duty clerk at Luke Oil.
Charged with murder and robbery are Bruce Guess, 18, of 51 E. U.S. 6, and
Steven Jorden, 19, of 1118 Winterpark Drive.
According to the
probable cause affidavit filed by Det. Tim Manteuffel of the PCSP, on
Friday, shortly before midnight, officers were dispatched to the Luke Oil in
response to an activated business alarm. They arrived at 11:25 p.m. and
subsequently discovered Heckman, deceased, lying face down in the men’s
restroom of the business, with massive blunt trauma to the back of the head.
subsequently discovered a red shirt wrapped around a mini sledge hammer in
the manager’s office, blood spatter at the entrance to the business and
leading from the front door to the cashier’s counter, and an open safe,
Manteuffel stated. Cigarette cartons had been pulled from shelves and the
video surveillance system in the manager’s officer had been tampered with in
an apparent attempt to recover images, he also stated.
later interviewed another employee of the Luke Oil, who advised that earlier
in the evening Heckman had called to ask for a key to lock the store on
closing. That employee arrived at 11:20 p.m. and observed a skinny white
male subject exit the front door carrying a garbage bag, Manteuffel stated.
The male subject, wearing dark clothes and a hoodie, was then seen walking
to a dark-colored minivan parked near the dumpsters on the north side of the
At that point
the employee, accompanied by her husband, indicated to him that she could
not find Heckman and believed that the business had been robbed. The
employee’s husband then drove his own vehicle around the store to the
minivan, which was unoccupied but filled with several more garbage bags,
where he was approached by a heavyset white male subject whom he knows as
Steve, who asked what was happening, Manteuffel stated. The employee’s
husband told him that the business had been robbed. He then rejoined his
wife inside the business, finally found Heckman in the men’s restroom, and
on going outside again found that Steve and the minivan were missing.
later identified Steve as Steve Jorden and went to his residence at 1117
Winter Park Drive, Manteuffel stated. There, a woman who identified herself
as Jorden’s girlfriend advised that she had information on the robbery and
permitted a search of her own residence at 1118 Winter Park Drive, where a
dark-colored minivan was parked. Recovered from beneath the mobile home were
a knife, black garbage bags containing cigarette cartons, and coin rolls,
while what appeared to be blood was observed on the door of the trailer,
Manteuffel also stated.
In a further
interview, the woman advised that at 9:30 p.m. on Friday Jorden had asked to
borrow her minivan to see someone. While getting dressed to leave, she
advised, Jorden was accompanied by Bruce Guess, whom she described as
skinny. They left the residence and Jorden returned at 11:30 p.m. “pale,
sweating, and out of breath” and mumbling “something about being caught and
the law being after him,” she advised. Jorden then apologized to her and
Jorden and Guess
were both located on Saturday morning and taken into custody, Manteuffel
stated, and both advised that they had lured Heckman into the men’s
restroom, where Guess struck her in the head three times with the sledge
of murder and robbery were filed before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger
Bradford and an initial hearing on video has been scheduled for Tuesday.
Jorden and Guess are being held at the Porter County Jail without bond.
Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel told the Tribune today that
technically, under Indiana Code, a homicide committed in the course of a
robbery is subject to a charge of capital murder. But Gensel said that no
determination has yet been made as to whether to file such a charge against
Guess and Jordan.