Chesterton Tribune


Testimony: McCowan IU trip, reaction to search for Amanda

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During the trial for Dustin McCowan on Thursday, friends gave testimony that McCowan acted concerned about the disappearance of former girlfriend Amanda Bach the day she was reported missing, Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, but chose to visit friends at Indiana University instead of searching for her.

Jordan Walbright of Union Twp., who called McCowan her best friend and lives two doors down, said she was with McCowan on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. for lunch in Portage. She said she dropped McCowan off at his house, went to a class, and returned home around 8 p.m.

In direct examination by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek, Walbright said McCowan began texting her around 1:40 a.m. on Sept. 16 that he was “bored” and wanted to come over.

The two texted off and on until about 4:30 a.m. with McCowan saying he would come over as soon as he got done with doing laundry so he could take clothes to I.U., but Walbright said she was going to sleep. McCowan never made it to her house, she said.

She also said that McCowan never mentioned that night to her that he was with Bach who was at McCowan’s house from about 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

The next morning, Walbright said she saw McCowan’s Facebook posts and contacted him asking for details. The two continued with their plans to travel to I.U. with two other friends at about 12:30 p.m., although it wasn’t until about 2 p.m. when they departed, Walbright said.

“How did (McCowan) look?” Polarek asked.

“Concerned,” Walbright said, but he was not crying.

Next Polarek asked if there was any thought to staying behind to look for Bach, to which Walbright replied, “I told him I don’t think we should go.”

“We thought we should stay (home), but (McCowan) thought there was nothing any one of us could do,” Walbright said.

During the car trip, Walbright said McCowan was quiet while he was getting phone messages from his dad and police. The rest of the time he listened to music and slept, she said.

Arriving at I.U., Walbright said McCowan was “not acting like his normal self” in that he was not drinking a lot with others at a party and he continued calling people asking for updates.

On Saturday, Walbright said McCowan, who was not with her at the time, texted her “she’s dead.” She called him right after and said he had been crying. They then made plans to pack up the car and go home, she said.

Walbright said when she went to the car, three police officers were standing by her car and searched her car and her cell phone. When McCowan returned “ten cops came out of nowhere” and arrested him at about 6 p.m., she said.

School social worker

Also called in for testimony Thursday was Union Twp. Middle Schools Dean of Students and school social worker Michael Rosta.

Rosta said he knew McCowan as a leader in the school’s Natural Helpers peer counseling program while he was a junior and senior and said McCowan did a “great job” at an October 2010 retreat being “comfortable and open with the kids.”

He and McCowan had been social with each other but on Sept. 16 at 8:30 a.m., McCowan’s demeanor was different, Rosta said.

“I didn’t see him emotional or crying,” Rosta said. But he did express concern about Bach, Rosta said.

After coming back with his tennis team from an event on Saturday, Sept. 17 in the afternoon, Rosta said he saw search parties forming for Bach along Ind. 130 where her car was found abandoned.

Rosta said he phoned McCowan, who was at I.U. at that time, and asked McCowan, “What are you doing there?”

Rosta said he informed McCowan of the searches going on at that moment and told him, “Dustin, you need to get your butt home.”

The two began to text each other and Rosta said one of the texts from McCowan mentioned his father telling him that there was something about “a young boy missing that they felt might be related to the case.”

But Rosta said he thought it was a “strange” text and asked McCowan by text, “Is there something you need to tell me?”

To which McCowan replied, “What are you talking about? What do you mean? No. No,” Rosta said.


Next the state called Anna Leahy, a current I.U. student who dated McCowan while she was a senior and he was a sophomore at Wheeler HS.

Leahy said she and McCowan had remained “neutral friends” after a breakup her first year at college.

She said McCowan texted her on Sept. 15 saying that he would be visiting friends at I.U. The two planned to meet up during the trip, she said.

On Friday evening, she saw McCowan’s Facebook post about Bach’s disappearance and texted him. She said he seemed concerned to her.

They arranged to meet Saturday at a tailgate party but Leahy said she went home instead, avoiding McCowan because she “had a really bad feeling.”

“Stuff like that doesn’t happen around here. It bothered me,” she said.






Posted 2/8/2013