The jury in the State’s case against Dustin McCowan heard two friends
testify on Tuesday that he would occasionally show off a gun during parties
at his house.
Another friend, Allison Bolde, noted in her testimony things she found odd
on the morning of Amanda Bach’s disappearance on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.
Bolde, now a senior at Wheeler High School, said she became friends with
McCowan during her sophomore year. He was a senior then.
She also said she had been good friends with Bach, the eventual murder
victim, and the three of them, along with McCowan’s best friend Brandon
Hutchins, would “hang out all summer” in 2011.
But there were constant quarrels between McCowan and Bach who broke up that
summer, Bolde said during her direct examination by Deputy Prosecuting
Attorney Cheryl Polarek.
“What kinds of things did they break up over?” Polarek asked.
“They would fight all the time. I think they just got sick of (fighting),”
Things got even more heated when a possible pregnancy shook McCowan.
“He was freaking out about it for the longest time. He would say, ‘I don’t
want to be a dad. I really think she is pregnant,’” Bolde said. She said
even after a pregnancy test gave negative results, McCowan never
acknowledged the fact.
Bolde said McCowan expressed that he felt Bach was causing a friction
between him and Hutchins who she was starting to spend more time with.
That’s why, Bolde said, it “surprised” her that Bach would go over to
McCowan’s house on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, when “they weren’t on speaking
Bolde said she first learned about Bach being at McCowan’s and subsequently
her disappearance from Amanda’s father William Bach when he called Bolde
about 4 a.m. After giving McCowan’s cell number to William Bach, Bolde said
she went to McCowan’s about 4:30 a.m. where she started crying while McCowan,
wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt and black shorts, was “a lot more
Bolde said McCowan told her two things – that he was the last person to see
Bach after she left his house at 1:30 a.m. and that he and Bach “got along
for the first time and didn’t fight” during that time. The latter part he
kept repeating throughout the morning, Bolde said and on the surface that
seemed “strange” to her because Bach and McCowan “fought all the time.” She
said she also found it strange the time at which Bach left because she was
usually good about being home before her 1 a.m. curfew.
Both Bolde and McCowan started calling acquaintances who knew Bach and made
postings about her disappearance on Facebook after 4:30 a.m.
McCowan retained his “calmness” throughout the morning, Bolde testified,
when the two drove by Dean’s General Store before 6 a.m. where Bach’s gold
Pontiac G6 was left abandoned, when the two spoke with Hutchins’ family
about Bach going missing, and later when they spoke with the Union Twp.
Middle School social worker.
Sometime before 7 a.m., Bolde said she and McCowan went back to his house
before his dad, Elliot McCowan, would be getting off work. She said she went
to sit in his room and later got up to go look for him.
Polarek then asked Bolde to tell the jury what she saw.
Bolde said that thorough a window above the front door, she could see
McCowan “walking around the yard” on his phone talking to an unknown person.
Then she said she saw him walk left on the road towards the Canadian
National Railroad. An unknown amount of time had passed before she got a
text from McCowan saying his dad picked him up and they would be back in
When they arrived, Bolde said she felt it “a little strange” that Elliot
McCowan didn’t say anything to her but went to bed.
After speaking with the school social worker, Bolde said that McCowan made
the comment to her that “if worse comes to worse, I hope they find her so we
can get closure,” and that “this would ruin his time at I.U.”
Back at McCowan’s home, Bolde said McCowan pulled clothes out of his dryer
at 12 p.m. before leaving for a weekend at Indiana University in Bloomington
and said “he would party in (Amanda’s) honor.” Bode said she questioned why
he would say that since he made it sound like Bach was already dead.
Bolde said later around 4 p.m. a text from McCowan while he was riding with
friends to I.U. saying “the cops are blaming me so I have to be
Bolde said at 5 p.m. she learned from Hutchins, who previously testified he
was at Vincennes University at the time, first that Bach’s body was found on
Saturday, Sept. 17, along the railroad tracks near McCowan’s house. It was
about an hour later that she received a text from McCowan saying,
“(Allison), she’s dead,” and that the police were trying to link her death
Bolde said she then became upset and “almost threw her phone” as her memory
flashed to the image of McCowan on that Friday morning “walking towards the
weeds of where (Bach) was.”
Defense attorney Nick Barnes, in his cross-examination, began by asking
Bolde if she gets very emotional, to which she nodded yes.
Barnes then asked Bolde if she was “more than just friends” with McCowan.
She responded they had started a physical relationship a few weeks before
Bach’s death but they were not exclusive.
“Did this cause a little bit of a rift between you and Amanda?”
“We weren’t talking to each other or hanging out as much,” she said and
added that her budding relationship with McCowan remained unspoken to Bach
in order to sustain their friendship.
Next, Barnes inquired more about McCowan’s actions on Sept. 16.
“(McCowan) seemed concerned about Amanda, right?” Barnes asked.
“Is it fair to say Dustin seemed scared for Amanda?” Barnes asked.
“He didn’t show it as much, but yes, I think he was probably scared for
her,” Bolde replied.
Barnes asked about a stop Bolde and McCowan made at Speedway that morning.
Bolde confirmed McCowan asked the station clerk if he had seen Bach and
described what she looked like.
In another set of questions, Barnes asked about the window above the front
door she said she saw McCowan talking on his phone that morning. Bolde said
she could see out of it and responded to Barnes questions that McCowan had
walked out to get a ride with his dad at that time.
Also, Bolde said yes when Barnes’ asked if McCowan left for I.U. because he
“just wanted to think of something happy.”
Lastly, Barnes asked Bolde if police had taken her fingerprints, a swab of
her DNA, or a hair from her dog. Bolde said she did not believe police
performed any of those actions, but they did search her house and her car
for evidence that Friday.
Guns and killing
In direct examination, Polarek asked Bolde if she had ever seen McCowan
handle a gun in the weeks before Bach was killed. Bolde said she had in fact
seen McCowan with a gun “one time for sure.”
Next, Polarek asked if McCowan ever talked about killing. Bolde said she
recalled a time where she and McCowan were “chatting about random things” he
said “he could kill anyone except for his family and Brandon (Hutchins).”
She said this may have been influenced by the rap music he listened to which
contains violent lyrics.
Barnes, in his cross-examination, asked Bolde if McCowan had been joking
when he talked about killing.
“I assumed he was joking. I don’t know if he was but whenever (McCowan)
talked about that I didn’t take him seriously,” Bolde said.
Earlier in the afternoon, two other of McCowan’s friends called by the state
gave testimony they also saw McCowan carrying guns on multiple occasions at
Erik Schaffer, who graduated with McCowan from Wheeler High School in 2011,
recalled times when McCowan brought guns out to show off to his peers during
drinking parties at his house. Schaffer said McCowan had one time made
comments that he would shoot people who were not invited to his party.
Current Wheeler HS senior Tyler Joseph Crussen said he was present at
McCowan’s parties when he brought out the gun, a semi-automatic handgun that
belonged to McCowan’s dad.
Crussen told of
how he befriended McCowan and McCowan’s then-girlfriend Bach halfway through
his freshman year.
He said he
attended the parties and knew McCowan dumped bottles of beer and liquor and
plastic cups in the area near the railroad. There were “plenty of people
from the parties that knew about the location,” Crussen said.
examination, Crussen testified that he was part of the search for Bach on
Sept. 17 and led a group of friends near where McCowan dumped garbage
because “that’s where I felt I needed to go… if (McCowan) had something to
do with it.”
Crussen said he
searched the cornfields and believes he may have been ten yards away from
Bach’s body before giving up the search to take two friends to prepare for a
football game later that day.
testified that he sighted no suspicious objects like Bach’s torn capris
pants in some nearby limbs, her flip-flops or the orange shirt with her DNA
found on the tracks. He also said he did not talk about the location with
Nick Prochno who was the Union Twp. resident who discovered the body.