Chesterton Tribune

Lorraine Kirley is found: Mystery ends with grim discovery

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A rusty can of bug repellent, apparently left by David Malinski on the night he buried Lorraine Kirkley’s body more than six years ago, was all that marked her grave in a wooded area of property once owned by Malinski’s father, now by his brother, near Rensselaer in Jasper County.

At around 3:30 p.m. Friday—six and half hours after authorities began their search of the site—a tarp containing Kirkley’s remains was uncovered at a depth of five feet.

Those remains were subsequently transported to Jasper County Coroner’s Office and an autopsy was scheduled for this afternoon. Presumably the remains will be definitively identified as Kirkley’s at that time.

According to an account of the recovery operation provided by Porter County Chief Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel, searchers arrived at the property around 8:30 a.m. armed with a rough map, directions based on a line of sight recalled by Malinski, and old family photographs of the property.

On site were a team of forensic anthropologists led by Dr. Stephen Nawrocki of the University of Indianapolis and crime scene technicians from the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, the Valparaiso Police Department, and the Valparaiso University Police. Former law enforcement officers with the FBI and the Indiana State Police who were involved in the initial investigation were also on site.

Although searchers evidently began the recovery operation with some degree of confidence, by 12 p.m., Gensel wrote, they had had no success and the wooded area—approximately 150’ x 100’—had begun to resemble “a miniature version of the Disney movie Holes,” as searchers dug narrow test holes in areas where four-foot metal probes suggested that soil may have been disturbed by previous digging. Searchers then moved beyond the area identified by Malinski as the burial site.

At 12:20 p.m., Gensel wrote, Porter County crime scene technician Bill Young spotted a rust can of Deep Woods Off on the ground and searchers had their big break, as Young remembered that among the evidence collected by investigators in the weeks and months after Kirkley’s disappearance was a receipt for bug repellent purchased by Malinski at the time of the murder.

At 12:30 p.m., Gensel wrote, Nawrocki directed his team to probe this area, and within short order the forensic anthropologists had found a place with mixed soil—indicative of disturbed ground—and a metal probe had struck a material believed to be fabric at a depth of five feet.

Meanwhile, Gensel wrote, concerned by their early failures, authorities made the decision to bring Malinski himself to the site to assist with the recovery operation. Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford issued an emergency order and members of the Porter County SWAT Team were dispatched to Michigan City to transport him.

He arrived at 12:45 p.m., walked the site for approximately 20 minutes, and told searchers that he still believed that the initial area of interest—pockmarked by test holes—was the location of the grave.

When Gensel informed Malinski that a can of bug repellent had been found, Malinski confirmed that he had brought such a can with him on the night of the burial.

Malinski then indicated that the new location could be the correct one.

“Malinski appeared to be sincere in his desire to aid official in finding the body,” Gensel wrote, “but since he buried the body during the middle of the night and six years had elapsed, he couldn’t pinpoint the actual area.”

Malinski was then returned to the Indiana State Prison.

At 3:30 p.m., in the belief that they had found the grave, a backhoe was brought to the scene and earth was gingerly scraped from the area in layers of several inches at a time. Once two feet of soil had been removed, Gensel wrote, searchers could see a distinct rectangular shape 2.5’ x 6’ in size. Within that rectangle the soil was mixed, but surrounding it was a border of “pure orange sand.” Roughly 18 inches above the fabric, Nawrocki’s team began removing soil slowly with trowels and dustpans and sifting it through a sieve to recover any evidence.

At 3:45 p.m., Gensel wrote, the top of a brown tarp was sighted, confirming Malinski’s memory that he had wrapped Kirkley’s body in such a tarp. By 5:45 p.m. the whole of the tarp was exposed as well as straps used to wrap around the tarp.

At 6 p.m. the tarp was removed and transported to the Jasper County Coroner’s Office and the burial shaft filled in.

Also found in the burial shaft was a coffee can—containing unidentified items—wrapped inside a white plastic bag and a copy of the July 23, 1999, edition of the Post-Tribune. Kirkley had been kidnapped on July 21.

In a statement released after the recovery operation had ended, Gensel made one thing clear: “At no time during this case is it believed that any Malinski family members had any knowledge that Lorraine Kirkley had been buried on the Rensselaer property.”

“The prosecutor’s office would again like to express thanks to all the agencies who participated in the investigation,” Gensel added in that statement.

“Members of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, the Indiana State Police, the FBI spent thousands of hours investigating and interviewing hundreds of leads, ultimately resulting in the successful prosecution of David Malinski for his heinous crime. We would also wish to again express our sympathy to Robert Kirkley and Pat and Bill Jones, parents of Lorraine, for their loss. With the recovery of Lorraine, the ultimate question in this case is now answered and the case can be closed.”


Malinski statement released

With the recovery of Lorraine Kirkley’s remains late Friday afternoon, the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office released a statement provided by David Malinski during his interview Sept. 16 at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. Malinski gave that statement to Prosecuting Attorney James Douglas and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel.

It’s an oddly phrased statement, written for the most part in the third person and breaking unexpectedly into the first person only twice, near the conclusion. The fourth paragraph is an interpolation written by another party, a prison chaplain who encouraged Malinski to reveal the location of Kirkley’s remains and who does not want his identity released to the public.

The text of Malinski’s statement:

“David Malinski is ready to complete his obligation to the family of Lorraine Kirkley by revealing the location of her remains. As you know, David Malinski was arrested in July 1999 and convicted of the murder of Lorraine Kirkley in April 2000. He tried to tell the whole truth in August of 2000 but was advised against it by attorneys.

“Thereafter, David concealed the truth to avoid the death penalty and out of fear of losing his family. But he has been torment(ed) by the fact that he took Lorraine Kirkley’s life and has not revealed her location to her family or authorities. Now, he is no longer concerned about protecting himself but wants to resolve this matter for the families involved.

“Since David became born again and accepted Jesus(’) Lordship over his life he has been struggling to reveal this horrible secret. Originally, he planned to take this secret to his grave; but Jesus has changed his heart and revealing this secret has become urgent.

“David has been working with me off and on for the last two years, wanting to get this information to the authorities and fulfill his obligation to the families involved. He is now ready to be accountable for his actions in order to be in right relationship with God and any person who will permit.

“The selfish, ungodly, and wicked crime he committed against Lorraine Kirkley is evidence of what can happen to a person who abuses drugs and alcohol, is addicted to pornography, relies solely on a psychiatrist, and most importantly has not been saved by Jesus. David is now off all medications, is alcohol free, and emotionally stable.

“David Malinski’s action in revealing this information will hopefully help other offenders, holding on to such secret crimes, to come forward and do the right thing to help relieve families and stand accountable for their actions.

“Some will put another interpretation on this story. They will describe David Malinski as a demonized, cold-hearted, and cold-blooded murderer—and in a sense, they will be correct. What they will not report is what I will tell you now, as I make an appeal to other offenders who are holding secrets to unresolved crimes.

“Only the power of Jesus Christ could have brought David to this point. He was a devil, but he has been saved by grace, and God is available to help any person surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and turn his life around.

“I, David Malinski, released this statement and give permission for it to be broadcast, printed, or publicized through the media.”


Posted 10/3/2005