The head of the
PCSP Detective Bureau took the stand on Thursday to discuss the extent and
depth of the Amanda Bach murder investigation.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost’s direct examination, Det. Com. Jeff
Biggs provided a time line of his involvement in the case, beginning late on
the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, when he was summoned from a charity
event in Illinois to direct what at the time was still a missing-person
to the multiple ground and article searches conducted before and after
Bach’s body was found on Saturday, Sept. 17; the assignments he gave his
detectives, including a search of the Bach home in Portage and one of
Allison Boldie’s vehicle; and his own experiment, two weeks after the
murder, when at 2 a.m. one night he jogged the 2.4 miles from Dean’s General
Store on Ind. 130 to the McCowan residence.
How long did
that jog take? Frost asked.
minutes, 44 seconds. “It was very dark in the area,” Biggs added, and only
one vehicle passed him.
Over the course
of the investigation, Biggs also stated, more than 150 people were
“Was your sole
focus on Dustin McCowan?” Frost put it to him.
“No, it was
not,” Biggs said. An ex-boyfriend of Bach’s was interviewed and others as
well. “As we learned more about her, we started checking with them, checking
their alibis and eliminating people as suspects.”
evidence point to anyone else in the case but Dustin McCowan?” Frost
“No, it did
not,” Biggs said.
John Vouga’s cross examination of Biggs was lengthy. Its basic thrust, as
Vouga asked Biggs early on: “You never thought someone else might have done
to anyone else,” Biggs replied.
things, Vouga asked the following: did you have Linda Phillips’ ears and
eyes tested? Did you send evidence technicians to investigate abandoned or
vacant homes in Wheeler, near Dean’s? Did you review video surveillance
footage at the Portage Wal-Mart after an acquaintance of Bach’s reported
seeing her there in the company of a male and female, sometime after she was
presumed to have been killed? Do you know how many .38, .357, and 9 mm
handguns are stolen in Porter County every year? Did you personally follow
up with a witness who reported seeing a vehicle parked at Dean’s at 1:15
a.m.. Friday, Sept. 16, outside of which a tall, slender, middle-aged man
To all of those
questions Biggs answered in the negative.
several issues in more detail, including officers’ efforts to establish
alibis for registered sex offenders living in the area. “Isn’t it correct
that none of them had clear-cut alibis?” Vouga asked.
made contact with them some time after the events in question, Biggs said,
“it was difficult” for them to recall their whereabouts exactly.
“Why didn’t you
scour vacant homes in Wheeler?” Vouga asked.
“You just can’t
walk into an abandoned home,” Biggs said in response.
Was it your
decision not to bag Bach’s hands when her body was recovered? Vouga asked.
Biggs said that
it was his decision, made after consulting with Det. Sgt. William Young, his
chief evidence technician, and that he made it so as not to lose possible
secure the scene where Bach’s body was found until after the autopsy was
completed? Vouga asked.
“There was no
reason to secure it,” Biggs said. In any case, at that point, it was
“decided to focus” on the McCowan residence.
Why did you
order destroyed two vehicle floor mats found on the side of C.R. 650W? Vouga
wanted to know.
that an FBI technicians determined that brownish stains on the mats were not
blood. “They weren’t relevant to the case.”
you to have evidence destroyed?” Vouga pressed.
“It was not
evidence,” Biggs said. “It was garbage.”
You didn’t look
into the alibi of Nicholas Prochno either, Vouga asked.
true,” Biggs said. “We confirmed his alibi with his fiancee.”
A juror did want
to know what evidence led the PCSP to charge McCowan with murder in the
Biggs cited five
things: McCowan was the last known person to see Bach alive; he made
inconsistent statements after Bach went missing; the driver’s seat in Bach’s
car was in a far-back position; the proximity of Bach’s body when discovered
to the McCowan residence; and Linda Phillips’ statements about the voices
heard through her bedroom window.