Chesterton Tribune

Amanda Bach case: Divers search pond; squad car seized; judge recuses herself

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Divers searched a pond behind Wheeler High School on Wednesday seeking evidence in the Amanda Bach murder case.

Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police declined to say whether the divers recovered anything but the pond in question is located immediately south of the Canadian National railroad right-of-way, just east of the site where Bach’s body was found on Saturday afternoon, and not quite a quarter of a mile from C.R. 625W, where murder suspect Dustin McCowan resides.

Investigators had planned another search for evidence today but LaFlower would not say where they were focusing their efforts or what exactly they hoped to find.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Dave Lain would not comment when asked whether a possible murder weapon or Bach’s cell phone has been recovered. That cell was not in Bach’s purse—left in her 2006 Pontiac and apparently otherwise undisturbed—when the car was found abandoned at 3:23 a.m. Friday in the parking lot of Dean’s General Store at 626 Ind. 130.

Cell records indicate that, at 12:14 a.m. Friday, Bach appears to have sent “one unknown type media message” to an unknown recipient, while at 1:21 a.m. she received a text from McCowan’s cell. Records further indicate that “there were no further texts or received phone calls after that specific text,” police have said. “All incoming calls”—McCowan made two to her at 4:36 a.m. Friday—“appear to have gone to voice mail.”

Investigators did ask AT&T to locate Bach’s cell but those attempts were unsuccessful, either because she had turned off her phone or its battery had died.

Lain would also not comment on Wednesday when asked whether investigators have collected any trace evidence for processing. Today, however, LaFlower did confirm that the marked squad car used by McCowan’s father—Joseph McCowan, an officer with the Crown Point Police Department—was one of the items taken into custody after a search warrant was executed at the McCowan residence late Saturday into Sunday.

That squad car is being processed by evidence technicians.

In an interview conducted on Saturday, a juvenile identified only as “A.B.” told an investigator that she had visited McCowan at 4 a.m. Friday and was still there at 7 a.m. when McCowan’s father arrived home from work. At that time, A.B. advised, “Dustin got in the car with his father and the two headed north,” police have said. “Heading north on C.R. 625W leads one to both the location where the female body was found as well as Dean’s General Store.”

The most direct route from McCowan’s residence to Dean’s General Store—the most direct route as well to Bach’s home in Portage—is north on C.R. 625W to the Canadian National right-of-way, left (west) on C.R. 350N, right (north) on C.R. 650W, then northwest on Jones Road to Ind. 130.

Investigators remain interested in speaking with anyone acquainted either with Bach or McCowan. Persons are urged to call the PCSP Detective Bureau at (219) 477-3140 or the WeTip hotline at (800) 782-7463.

Recusal

Meanwhile, Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper recused herself on Tuesday from hearing the case, after her ex-husband, attorney Bob Harper, entered an appearance to represent McCowan.

The case has now been transferred to Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

Attorney Harper told the Chesterton Tribune on Wednesday that his client, since first speaking with investigators, has consistently and continually denied any involvement in Bach’s murder.

 

 

Posted 9/22/2011