Chesterton Tribune


Elliott McCowan testifies about the missing gun and his advice to his son

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Elliott McCowan, Dustin McCowan’s father, testified on Thursday that he discovered his Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airlite missing after Amanda Bach’s body was found—on Saturday, Sept. 17—but before investigators served a search warrant at his home, in the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 18.

Under Porter County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost’s direction examination, Elliott McCowan said that the last time he saw the handgun was on Monday, Sept. 12, four days before Bach visited his son at their home, and that he learned it was missing on Saturday, Sept. 17, sometime after Bach’s body was discovered.

“When did you look for the gun?” Frost asked.

“I wasn’t looking for it at all,” McCowan said. Instead, he was looking for a flashlight under the sofa and noticed at that time that the Smith & Wesson was gone.

Meanwhile, Frost probed Elliott McCowan’s memory of other events associated with the case. Did he recall a text from Dustin, in the early morning hours of Friday, Sept. 16, asking him “what police would do in this situation?”

“I don’t recall but it would make sense,” Elliott McCowan said.

Why did father and son drive to Dean’s General Store, immediately after Elliott McCowan arrived home that day, around 6:51 a.m.? Frost asked.

“I wanted to know if it was a real flat (on Bach’s car) or if it had been staged,” that is, deliberately slashed or punctured, Elliott McCowan said. In any case, Bach’s car had been removed at that point and the two of them returned home and he went to bed.

“You learned Amanda is missing and you go straight to bed?” Frost asked.

“That’s correct,” Elliott McCowan stated.

Did it seem “okay” to you for Dustin to go to IU later in the day? Frost wanted to know.

“At that time it really wasn’t that big of a deal,” Elliott McCowan said. If the Porter County Sheriff’s Police had decided to release Bach’s car to her father, if the PCSP “wasn’t making a big issue of it,” then “there’s really nothing we can do.”

Did Elliott McCowan recall telling an officer, when interviewed on Sunday, Sept. 18, that he actually didn’t want Dustin to go to IU? Frost asked.

It’s “possible” he said that, Elliott McCowan said.

Did you work a full shift on Friday, Sept. 16, Frost asked.

Elliott McCowan said he did not, that he told his chief at the Crown Point Police Department that he was expecting the PCSP “to show up at my home.”

“You expected police to show up before Amanda’s body was found?” Frost asked.

“Yes, I did,” Elliott McCowan replied.

Under defense attorney Nick Barnes’ cross examination, Elliott McCowan said that at least as many as 14 people had access to his home during the week of Sept. 12, 2011, when the .38 went missing; talked Barnes through a couple of CPPD narrative reports which establish his whereabouts early in the morning of Friday, Sept. 16; testified that his mother had given both him and Dustin orange tee-shirts from U.S. Steel and that his own is not missing; and recalled sending Dustin a text around 3:30 p.m. that Friday in which he urged his son to tell investigators everything he knows.

Under re-direct examination, Frost wanted to know why, if Elliott McCowan on Friday had told his son to tell investigators everything, on the following Saturday afternoon he was advising his son to “tell them nothing.” Frost cited several such texts, including one sent at 2:23 p.m. Saturday, in which Elliott McCowan said “I can’t stress enough how important it is not to talk to anyone.”

Under re-cross examination, Elliott McCowan testified that he changed his advice to his son—about talking to police—on the advice of attorney Bob Harper.

Other Testimony

Dustin McCowan’s mother, brother, and uncle also testified on Thursday.

Under direct examination by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek, McCowan’s mother, Jamie Tome, testified that she didn’t recall telling police that it “looked bad” that her son was at IU during the search, and didn’t recall saying, at the end of her interview, that “he needs to pay the consequences, however much it hurts.”

Cross-examined by Barnes, Tome said that Dustin would have had a difficult time arranging a ride back from Bloomington, inasmuch as he was driven there and an early return would have meant getting three other people on board.

Tome also testified about a silver SUV which she saw parked in the turn-around of the substation just south of the Canadian National right-of-way, around 1 p.m. Saturday. Tome said that the SUV “freaked her out” not only because no one actually got out of it but because, at that time, all of the other searchers were well to the north, in the area around Dean’s General Store. Tome also said that she reported the vehicle to the PCSP but that she didn’t believe her information was taken seriously.

Dustin McCowan’ brother, Ryan Hamilton, testified that Dustin’s decision to go to IU was his own and that he “didn’t think nothing bad of it.” He also testified that, while he doesn’t recall telling Dustin to come back from IU, he was “sure” he did.

Under cross examination, Hamilton testified that, shortly after Bach’s body was found, a female acquaintance told him that she was “glad” Bach was dead. “She was smiling about it,” Hamilton said. That information he gave to the PCSP, Hamilton added.



Posted 2/15/2013