Chesterton Tribune



Cell phone data and police K9 were used to track Dillard

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The jury heard testimony from several witnesses and saw evidence of Christopher Dillardís alleged movements on April 19, 2017, on which date he is accused of killing Nicole Gland, and the days leading up to it.

Highlights from the testimony include a description of how cell phone records helped police search for Glandís missing phone and where a Police K9 tracked Dillardís scent.

Porter County Sheriffís Police Detective Gene Hopkins testified that cell phone data obtained indicates Glandís cell phone moved south, then west, and last pinged in Portage the night of her murder.

Glandís phone pinged off the same two Chesterton-area cell towers while she worked her shift at Upper Deck on April 18 and into early April 19, he said. She was last seen alive at 2:52 a.m. by the last patron who left the bar. After security footage showed her leave the building, her phone pings off a tower near Meridian Road and the Toll Road, then a tower in Burns Harbor, and finally in the area of Samuelson and Central Avenue, near Pleasant Valley trailer park at approximately 3:19 a.m.

There was no mappable data after approximately 7:19 p.m. about the location of Dillardís cell phone, because, as his former girlfriend Beverly Galle, testified Wednesday, the phone was in her name and she had it disconnected earlier that day because she was worried about people Dillard associated with getting information about her from the phone.

Hopkins has been a PCSP Detective since 2007 and specializes in cell phone data and record analysis. He testified to the process of preserving, obtaining, and using cell phone records. According to Hopkins, providers only keep data for 90 days, and law enforcement tenders a Ďpreservation letterí to them if they anticipate theyíll need a warrant for data attached to a certain phone number.

The data he gets can include location, text of messages, call logs, contacts, and internet searches, dependent on provider. Locations are not precise, but are general areas based on what nearby cell towers the phone connects to as it moves.

Hopkins said he was aware police requested preservation of data for phone numbers for Nicole Gland, Christopher Dillard, Glandís then boyfriend Santos Ortiz, Galle, and Upper Deck Lounge owner Jason Budzevski.

On cross examination, Dillardís defense attorney Russell Brown wanted to know why there was no mappable data for Budzevski and Ortiz. Hopkins said his understanding is that law enforcement preserved data for Budzevskiís phone number but never served a warrant to obtain it, and data for Ortizís number was not requested until early 2019, when PCSP Captain Jeff Biggs took another look at the investigation as part of a special task force.

Brown asked, ďSo we donít know where Jason Budzevskiís or Santos Ortizís cell phones were in the early hours of April 19, 2017?Ē ďCorrect,Ē Hopkins said.

Brown also asked about the range of cell towers--if Glandís phone may have still pinged off a tower to the west while it was stationary in Chesterton. Hopkins said ďitís possibleĒ that her phone was stationary as late as 3:11 a.m.

PCSP K9 Handler Charles Douthett testified his bloodhound K9 Jury picked up Dillardís scent from the crime scene and headed south after Chief Cincoski called him in to help investigate Dillardís movements. Douthett is semi-retired from PCSP and has decades of experience as a K9 handler.

Douthett said Jury was given a sample of Dillardís scent at the crime scene, where she quickly picked up a trail that led her up the hill connecting Lois Lane with E. Indiana Avenue, then south onto Calumet Road, then west down the alley by the Marathon station. She lost the trail near Chesterton Middle School.

When Jury picks up a trail, Douthett said, the suspect may have been on foot or in a car. After Jury lost the first trail, Douthett said he backtracked with the CPD looking for evidence along the trail, at which time she alerted again and led him back to the grassy area behind the Marathon.

Douthett said Jury also detected Dillardís scent in two places in the area of the Pleasant Valley trailer park--in a driveway across McCool Road from the park and in a trail that led from the entrance of the park directly to the parkís storage area. Jury and five other officers with dogs conducted an article search in the storage area and along McCool Road. The dogs showed interest in the storage area, but none alerted, Douthett said.

On cross, Douthett answered Brown that itís true a bloodhound can detect a scent up to 300 hours, which is 12 days, old. Douthett also said he did not attempt to track the possible movements of Ortiz or Budzevski at either scene.

Porter Police Captain John Lane testified that he was asked to retrieve and review surveillance video from the Upper Deck.

A compilation from Upper Deckís cameras shows Dillard enter the bar and approach Gland at 11:21 p.m. on April 18. The video then shows Dillard and Gland step outside onto the barís back deck--and out of camera view--for approximately four minutes. Dillard leaves Upper Deck that night at 11:27 p.m. and doesnít return on camera before the footage shows Gland closing the bar and leaving for the night around 2:56 a.m.

Lane said he was advised by Budzevski that an outside camera was not working to capture anything behind the bar, but he also obtained footage from Bross Storage that shows a small black pickup-truck or SUV heading south on Calumet Road at 3:09 a.m. Lane said the Marathon station across from Bross had no footage of that night.

Valparaiso Police Department Detective Melanie Sheets obtained and reviewed video from the Majestic Star casino in Gary after she, part of the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force, was called to assist in the investigation.

Camera footage from the casino played for the jury shows Dillard arriving in the casinoís parking garage in his Black Ford Ranger pickup at 5:28 a.m. on April 19. He is seen on the video, wearing jeans and a black shirt, putting money in machines, and making a short phone call from a pay phone immediately before leaving at 7 a.m.

Sheets said she recognized Dillardís truck in the video from a bumper sticker. She also said it was determined that Dillard called Galle from the pay phone.

Brown said on cross that Dillard appeared to be wearing the same clothes he was wearing when he visited Upper Deck the night before, save a flannel shirt.

Tammy Moore, who testified she used to work with Dillard and Galle at a Wendyís, said Dillard showed up at her house in Lake Station at approximately 6:30 p.m. on April 19. He asked to borrow her cell phone, which she obliged, and called Galle. He was wearing a long sleeved shirt, shorts, and ďslides,Ē according to Moore, and stayed about 15 minutes. Moore said she couldnít remember if she overheard Dillardís conversation with Galle.

Hobart Police Sergeant Mark Grissom testified that he apprehended Dillard in the evening of April 19 after Dillard turned into a Dairy Queen off of Main Street in downtown Hobart, and CPD Detective Nick Brown arrived to transport Dillard.



Posted 10/25/2019




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