What color are the flip-flops which investigators recovered from the
substation property, to the north and east of Dustin McCowan’s home?
Are they black, as Amanda Bach’s mother, Sandra Bach, said, when she
testified that those flip-flop sandals found near the substation belong to
Or are they gray, as defense attorney Nick Barnes suggested?
The color of the sandals was a theme of the several witnesses’ testimony on
Sandra Bach began, under Porter County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl
Polarek’s direct examination, to recall the events beginning early in the
morning of Friday, Sept. 16, when her daughter called her in Mexico—where
she had just arrived with her girl friends for a vacation—to say that
Amanda’s car had been found abandoned and that Amanda was missing. Bach
recalled taking the first flight home, the search on Saturday, Sept. 17, and
finally the discovery of Amanda’s body late in the afternoon.
Polarek then showed Bach two photographs, one of the sandal recovered near
the substation, the other of Amanda wearing flip-flops. Bach identified the
sandal in each of the photos as the same.
In his cross-examination, Barnes asked Bach what color the sandals were
which Amanda is wearing in the photograph.
“Black,” Bach said.
What color is the sandal recovered near the substation and later
“Dirty black,” Bach said.
“Some might say gray,” Barnes suggested.
“No, it’s black,” Bach repeated.
Later in the day, Barnes asked VPD Det. Sgt. David Castellanos—who found one
of the flip-flops recovered from the substation property on Saturday, Sept.
16—what color he thought it was: black or gray.
“I don’t know,” Castellanos replied. “It could have been dirty. I didn’t
spend much time with it.”
Then, after PCSP Maj. Barry Chayhitz testified that he had found the second
flip-flop, near the first one but in heavy vegetation, Monday, Sept. 19,
defense attorney John Vouga asked what color Chayhitz thought the sandal to
“I believe it was black,” Chayhitz said.
“Were you aware that no strand of Amanda’s DNA was found on that sandal by
the FBI?” Vouga asked.
Chayhitz said that he wasn’t aware of that.
The subject of the sandals’ color was broached one last time, late in the
day, when Vouga cross-examined PCSP Officer William Hugunin, the evidence
technician who photographed both sandals at the scene. When Vouga asked
Hugunin whether Hugunin would fight him, if he said that the sandal was
gray, Hugunin simply said that he wouldn’t fight anybody over the color.
Earlier in the day, Polarek did ask Sandra Bach what she thought of Dustin
McCowan’s relationship with Amanda.
Bach recalled telling her daughter “You need to move on” and said that she
thought the words she had used were along the line of “He’s psycho or
bipolar, you don’t need that kind of person in your life.”
Bach also testified that, on receiving a text while still in Mexico from
McCowan—in which she said that he’s “praying to God” that all was well with
Amanda—she had a “mother’s intuition” and “knew something was not right.”
What made you “uneasy” about McCowan’s saying he’s “praying to God”? Polarek
“I didn’t know him in that way,” Bach replied.
On Barnes’ cross-examination, Bach testified that she “wasn’t aware of any
physical-type abuse but verbal” and that she was aware that Amanda and
McCowan “bickered a lot.”
“Not just Dustin but Amanda too?” Barnes asked.
“Probably,” Bach said.
Later in the morning, Dean Marquardt, owner of Dean’s General Store on Ind.
130—where Amanda Bach’s abandoned Pontiac was found—recalled the events of
that early morning.
Marquardt testified that he first saw the right rear flashing hazard light,
drove by the vehicle, saw that it’s driver’s door was opened, parked his own
car, and called 911.
Marquardt said that the Pontiac had been parked on the far east side of the
property, facing southwest; that he had no operable surveillance cameras in
place at the time; that he saw no one; and that he saw no footprints in the
“perfect dew” of the vegetation near the Pontiac.
PCSP Officer Jose Mendez also testified about the Pontiac, which he told
Barnes on cross-examination that he did touch without gloves and did not
photograph because he didn’t think at that time that a crime had occurred.
Mendez was also the first officer to make contact with McCowan, by cell
phone, and Mendez recalled McCowan’s repeating “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m
“It didn’t sit right,” Mendez testified. “An over-exaggerated tone.”
On cross-examination by Vouga, Mendez did say that he made no mention of
McCowan’s tone in his original report and only first mentioned it in his
deposition in January 2013.
Vouga also asked Mendez whether William Bach, Amanda’s father, was
“over-exaggerated” in his expressions of concern, and whether all those who
would later search for her were “over-exaggerated” in their expressions of
Mendez said that they were not.
On re-direct examination, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost asked
Mendez whether Mendez’s point was basically this: that McCowan’s “tone did
not match the words.”
Mendez said that that was his point.