Death of Portage 19-yr-old Amanda Bach/Ex BF Charged with Her Murder /Bail Hearing for Man Accused of Amanda's Murder, Bail Denied/Trial to start Feb 4th/ McCowan found guilty/Sentenced to 60 years!

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Post by jeanne1807 on Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:07 pm

Suspect in custody in Portage woman's death

VALPARAISO | Police say the 18-year-old whom Amanda Bach was headed to visit when she went missing Thursday night is responsible for her death.

Dustin McCowan, of 338 N. County Road 625 West in Union Township, was arrested by Indiana University police in Bloomington.

Murder charges are being sought against him, Porter County authorities said during a news conference Sunday afternoon.

Police describe McCowan as an acquaintance of Bach, whose body was found Saturday afternoon on Canadian National Railway property about 300 yards from McCowan's home.

Bach, 19, was last seen by her family when she left her Portage home to see McCowan about 10 p.m. Thursday. Her gold Pontiac was found about 3 a.m Friday at a general store near his house. Police said the door was open and her purse was inside.

By 7:46 a.m. Friday, McCowan had posted a Facebook message about the missing woman.

"IF ANYONE HEARS FROM OR SEES AMANDA BACH CONTACT ME ... ASAP!!! THIS IS NOT A JOKE," he wrote.

McCowan arrived in Porter County just after midnight Sunday from Bloomington. Police believe he had been there since Friday.

IU police took McCowan into custody at the college, where he was visiting friends on a long-planned trip, Porter County Sheriff David Lain said.

"I don't think 'hiding' is the correct word," he said when asked why McCowan was downstate. "He had a trip planned to Bloomington before (Bach's disappearance)."

Police said Bach suffered trauma to her body but didn't release details about her injuries. Officials will release a cause of death after an autopsy Monday.

Bach graduated this summer from Portage High School and "her smile lit up a room whenever she walked in," her uncle, Carlos Cespedes, said.

Police described Bach and McCowan as "school friends," though McCowan graduated from Wheeler High School.

Wheeler High officials said grief counseling will be available this week for students.

McCowan is being held in the Porter County Jail.

The Bach family had not finalized funeral arrangements as of late Sunday.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:29 pm

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There are several pictures. One of Amanda and one of the young man that has been arrested.

Sigh.....another one...gone too soon.
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Post by raine1953 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:46 am

So sad. It never seems to end, you are so right Jeanne.
I also read in another article that this guy is her ex boyfriend. I'll find that link tomorrow because it's confusing, he's either an ex or an acquaintance??
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Post by Wrapitup on Mon Sep 19, 2011 6:50 am

What a lovely young girl whose life was snuffed out. crying

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Post by raine1953 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:01 am

Bond hearing today for man charged in slaying of Portage woman

The coroner's office ruled Bach's death a homicide and an autopsy determined that she died from a gunshot wound to the neck that severed her spine, LaFlower said.
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Post by raine1953 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:59 pm

Amanda Bach, Porter Teenager, Dead of Gunshot Wound: Ex-Boyfriend Charged

Amanda Bach, a 19-year old woman from Portage, Ind., was found dead of a gunshot wound to the neck late last week after being reported missing in the early hours of Friday morning. A man who some believe is her former boyfriend, 18-year old Dustin McCowan, was taken into custody on Saturday and formally charged with Bach's murder on MondayMcCowan faces one count of murder, and was being held with no bond at the Porter County Jail until his initial hearing on Tuesday.

Bach's parents reported her missing early Friday when she did not come home for her 1 a.m. curfew. She was last seen leaving her home at around 10 p.m. Thursday at visit a friend. It is unclear if she was intending to visit McCowan or another friend. At least one media outlet, WGN in Chicago, reported that Bach left her home on Thursday night to meet the suspect. In any event, the two did meet at some point.

"The investigation determined that after leaving her home, Amanda Bach was in the company of an acquaintance, Dustin McCowan," Porter County sheriff's department Sgt. Larry LaFlower said in a statement.

There are also conflicting reports on whether Bach's body or her car was found first. Some outlets are reporting that the car was found Friday -- abandoned at a gas station with the door open and Bach's possessions inside -- and Bach's body was found on Saturday afternoon near railroad tracks 300 yards from McCowan's home in Union Township, Ind. Local station 6 News in Indianapolis, In. is reporting the opposite.

McCowan was taken into custody Saturday at an Indiana University football game, during a previously scheduled trip to visit friends there. The Indiana Daily Student reports that IU police used a police to scanner to track McCowan's location. He was considered a person of interest at the time, as authorities believed he was the last person to see Bach alive.

6 News reports that McCowan told authorities where he was on Saturday when they reached him on his cell phone.

There have been no reports of a possible motive for the crime.

McCowan's father Elliott is a police officer with the Crown Point, Ind., police department.

Prosecuters told a CBS affiliate in Chicago that witnesses reported hearing voice outside the suspect's home. Neighbors said they heard a female voice saying, "I can't believe this is happening." Then, a male voice saying repeatedly, "Amanda, get up!" in the early hours of Friday morning.

McCowan's father refused to allow a police search of his property, where Dustin lives. Elliot McCowan maintains a Facebook page which indicates he is a very religious man. He has been active on Facebook since his son was arrested. On Saturday, presumably before his son was taken into custody, the elder McCowan posted a link to a craiglist ad selling a yoga mat that he claimed was funny. The ad has since been removed on Craigslist.

Dustin McCowan's Facebook page is still active, and a Facebook-based support group has been launched in his name. "Justice for Dustin" has 219 "likes" as of midday Tuesday.

Facebook pages have also been created in support of Bach's memory. "Lights on For Amanda Bach" is a public event created organize an event in Bach's honor, and directed people to leave their porch lights on for Amanda on Monday night.

A young man who is listed as Dustin McCowan's brother is one of thousands of people who "attended" the event, and he wrote on the event's wall.

"I have my porch light on for you Amanda," he wrote.
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Post by raine1953 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:10 pm

09/18/2011: AMANDA BACH DEATH | Witness Reports Hearing Screams

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Post by raine1953 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:06 pm

Amanda Bach died of gunshot wound to the throat; Dustin McCowan formally charged

Amanda Bach died of a single gunshot wound through the throat.
The bullet—fired from the front—severed Bach’s C4 vertebra and death was instantaneous.
Those are the findings of a forensic autopsy conducted late on Monday in Mishawaka, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris told the Chesterton Tribune today.
Harris declined to comment any further on the results of the autopsy, however.
Meanwhile, also late on Monday, Dustin McCowan, 18, of 338N 625W in Union Township, was formally charged with Bach’s murder.
Murder is a Class A felony punishable by a term of 20 to 50 years.
Discovery of Car
In a probable cause affidavit filed in support of that murder charge, Capt. Larry Sheets has detailed the case against McCowan, beginning with the discovery of Bach’s car at 3:23 a.m. Friday in the parking lot of Dean’s General Store at 626 Ind. 130 in Union Township, approximately two miles from the site where Bach’s body was found and roughly 300 yards from McCowan’s home.
The discovery of the 2006 Pontiac was made by the owner of Dean’s, it was parked on the east side of the store and facing southwest, its four-way hazard lights were on, its driver’s side door was open, and its left front tire was flat, Sheets stated. Inside was Bach’s purse “with what appeared to be all its contents” with the exception of her cell phone.
Later on Friday, at 5:30 p.m., a Times motor route driver advised police that the parking lot of Dean’s General Store was empty at 2:15 a.m., only 68 minutes before the Pontiac was discovered there.
The officer dispatched to Dean’s General Store promptly contacted Bach’s father, William Bach, the Pontiac’s registered owner, and he arrived on scene, Sheets stated. At around 10 p.m. Thursday, Bach advised, his daughter had told him that she planned to “hang out at the Stardust with her cousin” but that her curfew was 1 a.m. and she hadn’t returned home.
William Bach offered the responding officer two other pieces of information. First, he “advised that the driver’s seat (of the Pontiac) was further back than normal, indicating that a ‘guy or larger person’ may have been driving the vehicle,” Sheets stated.
Second, William Bach “thought that she could have been with her friend, Dustin McCowan, earlier,” Sheets stated.
First Contact with McCowan
At that point the responding officer contacted McCowan, who told him that Amanda Bach had been at his home from 11 p.m. to around 1:30 a.m.
“Dustin advised that he repeatedly told Amanda to text him when she got home,” Sheets stated. “Dustin advised that he never received that text. Dustin told (the responding officer) that he tried calling Amanda several times since she left his house.”
McCowan added that Amanda Bach left his house alone, that he was unaware of her Pontiac’s having been stranded at Dean’s General Store, and that he had “contacted several people, including Amanda’s cousin, and no one was able to provide Amanda’s location.”
Sheets did note in his affidavit, with respect to the position of the Pontiac’s driver’s seat, that Amanda Bach was 5’ 2’’ in height and McCowan 6’ 2’’ in height.
Interview with McCowan’s Neighbor
Also at 3 p.m. Friday, a neighbor of the McCowans’—whose bedroom faces the McCowan residence—advised that sometime between 1 and 2 a.m. Friday “she awoke to voices outside her residence,” heard through a bedroom window opened approximately eight inches.
She “heard what she thought was a male voice say ‘Amanda, get up, come on, get up, Amanda, get up,’” Sheets stated. (The neighbor) “indicated that she heard this approximately five times.”
The neighbor “then heard what she thought was a female voice say ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” Sheets stated. The neighbor “looked out of several of her windows and saw no people.”
Cell Phone Records
McCowan’s cell phone records indicate that he placed two calls to Amanda Bach’s cell at approximately 4:36 a.m. Friday, Sheets stated.
Investigators have not yet been able to find Bach’s cell phone and efforts by AT&T to do so were unsuccessful because her cell was “either turned off or out of power.”
But Bach’s cell records indicate that at 12:14 a.m. Friday she appears to have sent “one unknown type media message” to an unknown recipient and that at 1:21 a.m. she received a text from McCowan’s cell.
“There were no further texts or received phone calls after that specific text,” Sheets stated. “All incoming calls appear to have gone to voice mail.”
Interview with McCowan’s Father
At 3 p.m. Friday a detective interviewed McCowan’s father, Joseph McCowan, an officer with the Crown Point Police Department. Joseph McCowan advised that he had been working the midnight shift early Friday morning, as had his wife, and that his son “was alone at home.”
Joseph McCowan also informed the detective that his son was currently in Bloomington and agreed to call him.
In that phone interview, Dustin McCowan repeated what he had first told the responding officer, that Amanda Bach had been visiting from around 11 p.m. Thursday to 1:30 a.m. Friday and added that they had “played PS3 and watched a movie,” Sheets stated.
Dustin McCowan also said that “he didn’t know anything about” the “commotion in the yard” described by his neighbor, Sheets stated.
When asked whether he had been drinking late Thursday or early Friday, Dustin McCowan advised “that he did not drink because he had an upset stomach.”
Later on Friday, at 8:30 p.m., the detective called Joseph McCowan and asked permission to “come and look around” his property. Joseph McCowan was not at home at the time and promised to call the detective when he returned home at 9:30 p.m. He subsequently did so but “advised that he would not allow officers to look around his property at this time,” Sheets stated.
The Flat Tire
Late on Friday, at 11:19 p.m., a PCSP officer determined that the Pontiac’s flat left front tire had a Phillip’s head screw in it, Sheets stated. The screw was silver with a rounded head and appeared “to have no tool markings to indicate use.”
Discovery of the Body
At 3:55 p.m. Saturday, two Valparaiso Police Department detectives found Amanda Bach’s body near the Canadian National railroad right-of-way, after a resident of the area advised that in the past his wife “has seen teenage females” there.
The body was located “on the south side of a four-by-four wire fence in a tree line, south of the railroad tracks,” 294 yards from the McCowan residence, Sheets stated.
A pair of black flip-flops, later identified as belonging to Amanda Bach, was also found on the south side of the railroad tracks between the McCowan residence and the CN right-of-way.
Interview with Juvenile A.B.
At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a juvenile girl—listed as “A.B.” in Sheets’ affidavit—advised an investigator that she is a friend of Dustin McCowan’s and had gone to visit him at his residence at 4 a.m. Friday.
At 7 a.m. Friday, A.B. was still there when Dustin McCowan’s father arrived home from work in his squad car.
“Dustin got in the car with his father and the two headed north,” Sheets stated. “Heading north on C.R. 625W leads one to both the location where the female body was found as well as Dean’s General Store.”
Interview with WHS Guidance Counselor
On Sunday, an investigator interviewed a guidance counselor at Wheeler Middle School, who advised that, at 7:50 a.m. Friday, Dustin McCowan arrived at WMS “wanting to talk,” Sheets stated.
The counselor’s impression of McCowan’s demeanor: “he seemed concerned but did not seem himself and wanted to know what he should do regarding the fact that Amanda Bach was missing and he was the last one to see her,” Sheets stated.
McCowan then arranged with the counselor to “keep him posted”—by texts—“as to what was going on.”
A day later, at 3:23 p.m. Saturday, McCowan texted the counselor this message, Sheets stated: “Like is the search started and stuff.”
In the ensuing text conversation, the counselor learned that McCowan was in Bloomington and texted him this message: “You on your way back?”
McCowan’s reply: “my dad said that there is a 10-year-old boy missing that they think is connected.”
The counselor’s reply: “Wow, that’s the first I heard of that.”
“The final text messages between (the counselor) and McCowan involved McCowan asking (the counselor) where people were searching for Amanda at,” Sheets stated.
Interview with Bloomington Car-Trip Driver
Also on Sunday, an investigator interviewed the driver who took McCowan and two others to Bloomington on Friday.
The driver advised that, around 1:30 a.m. Friday, McCowan began texting her, indicating that he “wanted to spend the night at her house” and saying that “he would be over as soon as he finished doing his laundry,” Sheets stated.
“At some point later, before McCowan arrived at (her) house, she texted him not to bother coming because now her father was awake,” Sheets stated.
Interview with a Friend of McCowan’s
On Monday another friend of McCowan’s advised that she had had text contact with McCowan on Thursday evening.
“At approximately 11:30 p.m. that evening, she had planned on going to his house,” Sheets stated. “However, Dustin told her that he wasn’t home at that time. This was during the time Dustin admitted to (the initial responding officer) that Amanda Bach was at his house from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.”
The Investigation Today
Sheets does not say in his affidavit whether investigators have recovered a firearm suspected to be connected with Amanda Bach’s death.
Detectives did execute a search warrant at the McCowan residence late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the PCSP told the Chesterton Tribune today.
“Detectives are still pursuing avenues of investigation,” LaFlower added. Anyone who may have pertinent information is urged to call the PCSP Detective Bureau at (219) 477-3140 or the WeTip hotline at (800) 782-7463.
McCowan was scheduled to have an initial hearing late this morning—by video teleconference—before Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:00 pm

Thank you Raine for posting that. I was bringing an article over but I think you have said most of it.

Seems there was some conflict between a friend of both of theirs that goes to IU.

Also the young man charged was home alone the night Amanda was killed. His father is a police officer and was working the midnight shift. No word on if there is a mother.

Amanda's uncle, the spokesperson, is a Doctor in the local area.

This case is making headlines with more revealed each day. Now it seems there was a female at the house but no name as of yet.

Everybody's lawyering up. Sad...very sad.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:03 pm

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Amanda Alexandra Bach | Visit Guest Book
AMANDA ALEXANDRA BACH PORTAGE, IN
Amanda Alexandra Bach, age 19, a lifelong resident of Portage, passed away on Friday, September 16, 2011. She was born on July 7, 1992 in Crown Point, the daughter of William and Sandra Bach, Jr. Amanda is a 2011 graduate of Portage High School and is currently employed as a hostess at Quaker Steak and Lube in Portage. Amanda was a wonderful daughter who enjoyed running, basketball, and hiking. She enjoyed going to the beach and being with her family and her friends. She will always be remembered for her incredibly beautiful smile and the vibrance she brought into our lives. Amanda is survived by her loving family; parents William and Sandra Bach; her sister Sarah Bach; grandparents William and Margaret Bach, Sr.; uncle Russ (Kathy) Bach; aunt Donna Frydl; uncle Dan Bach; grandmother Mina Santos; grandfather Julio Santos, Sr.; uncle Julio (Elizabeth) Santos, Jr.; aunt Diana (Modesto) Garza; uncle Ruben (Anna) Santos; aunt Sonya (Carlos) Cespedes; numerous cousins; other loving family; and very dear friends. A visitation for Amanda Bach will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, 2011 directly at Nativity of Our Savior Catholic Church, 2949 Willowcreek Road, Portage. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 23, 2011 at Nativity Catholic Church with Father Andrew Corona, officiating. Cremation will follow. Memorials in Amanda's memory may be made to the Amanda Bach Memorial Fund at Harris Bank. For further information please contact Rees Funeral Home at (219) 762-3013 or online at: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by raine1953 on Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:05 pm

Jeanne, here's a bit of info on the Mother, taken from: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

At 3 p.m. Friday a detective interviewed McCowan’s father, Joseph McCowan, an officer with the Crown Point Police Department. Joseph McCowan advised that he had been working the midnight shift early Friday morning, as had his wife, and that his son “was alone at home.”
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Post by raine1953 on Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:05 pm

Priest tells Bach mourners ‘God’s passion for justice is fierce’
PORTAGE — The marquee outside of Nativity of Our Savior Catholic Church’s school read, “Amanda Bach: Remember A Life.” Hundreds of mourners did just that Friday morning, filling the church’s pews to recall Bach, 19, of Portage, who was killed Sept. 16. She was described as the apple of her parents’ eye, a young woman who lived life to the fullest, who hoped to study nursing in college, who liked country music and rap, hiking and going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.

Pallbearers wore pale pink boutonnieres, matching the programs handed to mourners. Many of those at the funeral, including Bach’s family, also wore buttons graced with her smiling face.

Bach died of a single gunshot wound to the neck; Dustin McCowan, 18, of Union Township, is being held in the Porter County Jail without bond, charged with her murder. The two were friends. Bach’s car was found early the morning of Sept. 16 outside of Dean’s General Store on Indiana 130 in Wheeler.

Bach’s death, the Rev. Andrew Corona said during the funeral Mass, is like having the lights go out unexpectedly.

“We know in the day we can get through, but at night, we are thrown into the darkness,” he said, adding people may feel lost, helpless and frightened, then angry because they don’t know what’s going on. “It’s a full range of emotions and until the power is back on, there is no peace.”

Losing Bach, Corona said, “is like being thrown into the darkness without the slightest warning, and in a space of a moment, the whole world is turned upside down. Nothing could prepare us for the news we received this weekend.”

Someone else, Corona said, caused her death but mourners don’t know why.

“You need to know God’s passion for justice is fierce,” the priest said, adding God identifies with the weak, “but his call for compassion and mercy and forgiveness is even more fierce.”

He called on mourners to recall Bach’s life, rather than her death.

“Her life should not be defined by how it ended, but by how much we loved her,” he said.

Sister Connie Bach, a member of the Bach family, provided details on Amanda Bach’s life, noting that when her parents had her, “she became the apple of their eye and added sunshine to their days. She was just a real firecracker.”

Bach, a 2011 graduate of Portage High School, and her younger sister, Sarah, 14, loved and teased one another, Connie Bach said.

“Amanda enjoyed life to the fullest,” whether in dance class as a youngster, in grass skirts with her sister, or while trying the latest clothing and make-up trends as a young adult.

Noting that Bach’s “beauty was innocence and pure,” Connie Bach prayed for healing as family and friends move beyond their pain and sorrow.

“We have fond memories of a young lady who taught us to live life, and live it to the fullest,” she said.

Speaking after the funeral, Carols Cespedes, Bach’s uncle and the family spokesman during the tragedy, said the family has been moved by the community support during the search for Bach on Saturday in Wheeler and since police determined she had been killed.

“It’s been lovely how many people have been coming to support Bill and Sandy. They’re very touched by the community support,” Cespedes said, referring to Bach’s parents. “It’s been wonderful.”
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Post by raine1953 on Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:07 pm


A portrait of Amanda Bach rests as mourners leave following the funeral service for Amanda Bach at Nativity of Our Savior Catholic Church in Portage, Ind. Friday morning September 23, 2011.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:12 am

Well Amanda is laid to rest but what happened to her is still the big question. Also just who was involved.

This happened several cities over from us. Things like this don't happen often.

We have a lot of crooked politicians and a lot of drive by shooting we read about in the paper.

But a beautiful, young girl killed in the dead of night and a cops son arrested..thats unusual.

Nothing more in the papers other than the funeral.

I would guess that the "long blue line" will be drawn and nothing will be "said".

By the way the attorney representing the young man arrested is the ex husband of the judge so the judge has stepped down.

If I hear anything else...I will post.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:20 am

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Mother, Father and Sister at Amanda's funeral.
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Post by Lilone on Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:16 pm

You know what they say about cops' kids. Believe me, it's true.

A 16-yr. old son of 2 cops hit our 9-yr. old daughter in an intersection while making an illegal left hand turn, and he got nothing. There was a eye-witness who saw the whole thing, and brought our daughter home to us. The cops, the medics, everyone was making excuses for him. He was already in trouble for criminal damaging of someone's property, but he was never punished for hitting our little girl. His mother paid hospital bills and bought our daughter a new bike. That was it.

Cops' kids can and do get away with murder, and all other types of crimes.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:05 pm

Lilone..yep and yep. And now they have passed a bill that LE can enter our homes at anytime and we cannot stop them.

I am not sure if that is Indiana only or everywhere. I read it yesterday and about fell off my chair.

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INDIANAPOLIS— The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld its ruling that residents don't have the right to resist police officers who illegally enter their homes but explained further that the ruling also does not give police carte blanche to enter a home.


So if you have a dispute with a cop...they can come into your home at any time.

Imagine that.
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Post by raine1953 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:14 pm

Jeanne, I would NOT want to imagine that!!!! It must be a state law b/c I'm sure that CA isn't like that.
Sorry I know OT.
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Post by jeanne1807 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:18 pm

raine1953 wrote:Jeanne, I would NOT want to imagine that!!!! It must be a state law b/c I'm sure that CA isn't like that.
Sorry I know OT.

Well it is really not off topic because that bill is just being passed and guess what. When the officers went to the young mans home and wanted to search...his father a police officer would not allow them in. So they had to go to a judge and get a search warrant. Funny how that works.

All of this is in the numerous articles that have been written. You can read up thread to find more about the attempted search of his premises.
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Post by raine1953 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:21 pm

You're right, I had forgotten! Sorry about that. Here in CA they have to have a warrant to search. I had wondered why that father, especially being a police officer would refuse to allow LE to search. Not good!
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Post by jeanne1807 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:46 pm

raine1953 wrote:You're right, I had forgotten! Sorry about that. Here in CA they have to have a warrant to search. I had wondered why that father, especially being a police officer would refuse to allow LE to search. Not good!

Well I have a few ideas on that but I will only give them by PM. I don't want to get "busted". LOL
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Post by Lilone on Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:51 pm

He's got something to hide, obviously.

I let police search my house once without a warrant. They asked nicely and I had nothing to hide. I did throw one of them out because he acted like an ass, but I let 3 others in. It's a long story, it involved a psychotic ex-dau-in-law, and she got thrown out of our little town and was advised that if she came back she would be arrested.
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Post by raine1953 on Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:27 am

No bond for teen accused of Amanda Bach murder

VALPARAISO — There will be no bail for the man charged with murdering 19-year-old Amanda Bach in September.

After an hourlong hearing, Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa declined to set a bond for Dustin E. McCowan, now 19. Alexa cited Indiana law when giving his decision, noting that murder and treason charges are nonbondable offenses under the state constitution.

“The goal of pretrial incarceration is to ensure the defendant shows for trial,” Alexa read.

Defense attorney Robert Harper had argued the prosecution had collected no evidence that tied McCowan directly to the murder. There was no evidence where the body was found and no evidence found in the McCowan home when police searched it, Harper said. Police aren’t sure where Bach was shot, and test results have not come back from FBI laboratories, including DNA on a red spot found in the McCowan home.

“They jumped the gun,” Harper said.

Alexa said the prosecution showed that McCowan had opportunity to commit the crime and had enough circumstantial evidence to tie him to it. That includes cell phone records and a missing revolver from the McCowan home, as well as a possible eyewitness who saw McCowan walking on the road about 3 a.m. between where Bach’s car was found and the McCowan home.

McCowan shook his head slowly after the judge gave his decision, and family and friends in the court wept. He kept his head down when taken out of the courtroom, as he did when he entered, not making eye contact with anyone.
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Post by raine1953 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:04 pm

No bloodhound evidence in trial

Evidence developed by a tracking dog used in the investigation of the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach cannot be used in the trial of Dustin McCowan, 20.

“Pursuant to Indiana case law, bloodhound evidence is inadmissible because it is an unreliable form of evidence,” Porter Superior Judge William Alexa wrote in his decision issued Thursday morning.

He cited Indiana Supreme Court cases covering bloodhounds, stating that although the dogs are trained well, not all are equally unerring.

McCowan’s attorney, John Vouga, said, “We’re gratified that the court ruled correctly. There’s a long history of unreliability with this kind of evidence.”

McCowan’s trial is set to begin Feb. 4 and continue for almost a month.
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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:18 am

Raine, thank you for keeping up on this case.

Why even use bloodhounds if it's inadmissible? BS

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Normal Accused in Amanda Bach murder, McCowan trial set

Post by raine1953 on Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:08 pm

VALPARAISO — Final preparations for the trial of Dustin McCowan, now 20, for the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach began Friday and will continue Wednesday.

Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa on Friday approved two motions made by defense attorneys Nick Barns and John Vouga and delayed about seven others — as well as some made by the prosecution — until a Jan. 9 special hearing or the trial.

McCowan is accused of shooting Bach in the throat on Sept. 15 after she visited his family home in Wheeler.

Alexa has set aside the entire month of February for the trial, with jury selection beginning Feb. 4 and lasting through Feb. 5 with both sides getting three hours for their turns at jury selection.

“The vast majority of our motions are to allow the court to refine the scope of testimony,” Vouga said after the hearing.

“Hopefully after Wednesday, it won’t be a month long. We’re trying to whittle down unnecessary or repetitive witnesses just for judicial resources being preserved. Nobody wants a trial to last a month,” he said.
One prosecution motion addressed Friday adds two more potential witnesses to the more than 150 already listed. Deputy prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said the witnesses are people they could call, and she expects they will call half of what they’ve sought approval for.

Polarek is trying the case with chief deputy prosecutor Matthew Frost.

Other prosecution motions were for evidence.

The two motions Alexa granted for the defense were for the Porter County Jail records of Charles Aaron Wade III, who has pleaded guilty to two Class B felony charges for forcing his ex-girlfriend into a car trip at knifepoint, and for bringing a former Porter County Jail inmate back from Westville before the trial.

Barnes said the most significant defense motion is a hearsay objection to the testimony of a neighbor who said she heard a male voice in the McCowan backyard the night of the murder repeating “Amanda, come on, get up, Amanda, get up.”

“We don’t believe it falls under any of the exceptions (to hearsay rules),” Barnes said.

Alexa said he wouldn’t restrict who could attend the Jan. 9 hearing on motions, although he would restrict those allowed in court during jury selection to the media and potential jurors.

The judge had restricted access to Friday’s court call to those with court business to avoid crowding.

“We just can’t do it. Fire codes prevent that,” Alexa said.

For jury selection, both sides chose to have one-and-a-half to two hours in the afternoon on Feb. 4, after Alexa’s usual court call, and the rest on the next day. The courts will call 65 potential jurors Feb. 4 and 50 on Feb. 5, and trial proceedings will last from 9 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., the judge said.

Alexa will continue having court calls on Monday and Friday mornings during the trial to avoid backlogs of other cases.

Both sides also chose on Friday to have opening statements last an hour each.
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Provided mug shot of Dustin McCowan who is being held in the Porter County Jail on suspicion of murder. McCowan was brought back from Bloomington, IN., to face charges in the disapearance and murder of Amanda Bach whose body was found Saturday aftenoon near railroad tracks just south of the town of Wheeler.
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Normal Judge OKs testimony in McCowan murder trial

Post by raine1953 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:05 pm

VALPARAISO | A judge tossed out a claim it would be hearsay for prosecutors in the upcoming Dustin McCowan murder trial to introduce comments overheard by a neighbor of the accused.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa said the comments can be presented to the jury because they are being used to show they were spoken and not in an attempt to prove the matter asserted.

This negates a claim by the defense the statements are irrelevant unless it is first proven they were made by McCowan, 20, who is accused of shooting and killing his former girlfriend, Amanda Bach, 19, according to Alexa.

Bach's body was found Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan's Union Township home.

The statements the defense were attempting to keep out of the trial were reportedly heard by Linda Phillips, who told police she was awakened by them outside her home between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011.

She told police she heard a male voice say, "Amanda get up."

Other statements include, "Amanda, you have to get up. Amanda, honey, you've got to get up," according to court records.

Phillips also told investigators she heard what she thought was a female voice say, "I can't believe this is happening."

Phillips told police she looked out her window, but saw no one.

During a hearing last week on a series of motions in the case, Alexa denied an attempt by the defense to bar autopsy photos from the Feb. 4 trial.

The defense team was granted a few of its requests, including those prohibiting prosecutors from bringing up a previous arrest for which McCowan was not convicted or a long list of alleged character traits including accusations that McCowan is controlling, angry, sexually promiscuous, a marijuana user and was suicidal at one time.

Jurors also will not hear allegations that McCowan said he disliked or hated Bach.
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Dustin McCowan, 20, of Union Township, (left) is accused of slaying Portage resident Amanda Bach (right), who was found shot to death Sept. 17, 2011.
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Normal Jerry Davich: Finally, after 16 months, justice for Amanda Bach?

Post by raine1953 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:53 am

The now lonely and weathered memorial is still easy to miss on the south side of twin railroad tracks, framed by Wheeler High School in the frigid background.

Small stuffed animals are still there, too, alongside faded bouquets of plastic flowers, and tipped-over candles that have long been extinguished.

Amid all the warm memories and loving gifts left by friends and family, a handmade cross stands out with a bold message that still cries for attention.

“JUSTICE FOR AMANDA,” it screams in the dead of winter.

Finally, after more than 16 months of legal wrangling, odd twists and swirling rumors, justice for Amanda Bach is set to begin on Feb. 4 with her murder trial.

I revisited Bach’s death site last week to remind myself where her body was found on Sept. 17, 2011, after a frantic and massive search by police, family, friends and strangers.

The pretty, petite and bubbly 19-year-old Portage woman was shot in the throat and killed, allegedly by her former boyfriend Dustin McCowan, who was arrested and charged for her murder.

Bach was last known to be at the McCowan home in Wheeler on Sept. 15, 2011 — just 300 yards from where her body was found — and her vehicle was found abandoned the next day at a general store in town.

The 2011 Portage High School graduate was determined to be killed on Sept. 16, 2011.

“Amanda was a wonderful daughter who enjoyed running, basketball and hiking,” stated her parents, William and Sandra Bach, in her obituary. “She will always be remembered for her incredibly beautiful smile and the vibrance she brought into our lives.”

Both families, the Bachs and the McCowans, declined to comment for this column, for obvious reasons with the murder trial looming. Neither family wants to jeopardize its outcome or give opposing counsels additional firepower.

Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel anticipates calling roughly 100 witnesses to the stand during the trial, which is expected to last three to four weeks. Beyond that, his office can’t comment on the long and winding court case known as State vs. McCowan.

Defense attorney John Vouga, who has been representing McCowan since last April, couldn’t say much to me either. But he did tell me that new, telling evidence will be revealed during the trial that has not yet been released to the public.

“I only ask that people keep an open mind,” said Vouga, noting the same request for a “fair and impartial” jury pool, to be selected in the trial’s opening days.

Police are not saying much either, besides insisting again that everyone involved in this murder investigation is focused on one thing: bringing justice for Bach and her family.

Porter County Sheriff David Lain noted the additional poignancy of teenage homicides.

“Families are robbed of a life. All of us are robbed of the victim’s potential, their unknown contributions to the world,” Lain said.

“Police officers cannot always protect everyone from harm but, especially in the case of a homicide, they will use every resource possible to find answers and justice.”

There’s that word again — justice.

‘I want a conviction’

Several of Bach’s friends echoed it again and again since her killing. No one I heard from was more vocal and passionate than Christine Duda, of Chesterton. The two young women met while working at Quaker Steak and Lube in Portage.

“Amanda became loved by everyone very quickly,” Duda recalled. “She was one of those people where there’s no way you couldn’t notice her in a room. She was always smiling, hugging people and complimenting them in any way she could.”

Duda said Bach’s voice was “explosive,” and every sentence seemed to end with an exclamation point. But behind the public persona, Bach would confide in Duda about her rocky relationship with McCowan, who was “very controlling” of her.

“Dustin would come into the restaurant either by himself to speak to her or with friends,” Duda said. “Dustin never treated her like a woman. He would say nasty things and she would brush it off as a joke. I personally never liked him by the way he treated her.”

On the morning of Sept. 17, 2011, Duda received a phone call from Bach’s father, asking if she had seen his daughter. That’s when Duda’s cheery world started melting, and she joined dozens of others in the search for Bach.

“I decided I would set out on my own to look for my friend but, little did I know, she was already found,” said Duda, who was later interviewed by police.

“If you stood where they found her, you can see directly across the field to the Wheeler High School, where everyone gathered to start the initial search. To your right, just two houses down, was Dustin’s house,” she recalled. “I have never felt so sick.”

Bach was supposed to attend Duda’s wedding on Oct. 6, 2012, so Duda invited Bach’s parents in their daughter’s place. Surprisingly to her, they accepted and attended.

“It put me at ease knowing that my friend would be there in spirit, but to hug her parents meant more to me than anything in the entire universe,” Duda said. “It was like I was hugging her and it was just so beautiful. I was speechless.”

Duda also saved a seat for Bach at the reception, alongside a photo of her, pink roses and a sign stating, “I know you would be here today if heaven weren’t so far away.”

Since Bach’s killing, this case has had many odd twists, legal motions and pre-trial hearings before Porter County Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

This includes contentious requests for a change in venue for the trial, the allowance of dog-tracking evidence and the release of 29 firearms and a Playstation game owned by McCowan’s father, Elliot McCowan, a Crown Point police officer.

After Bach’s killing, the elder McCowan announced a $10,000 reward offered for information about her death, with McCowan supporters hinting at a serial killer on the loose.

The money came from a supporter, McCowan noted at the time, and I cannot confirm if any of it was ever distributed.

Last week, another intriguing twist in the case popped up from one of the prosecution’s witnesses, Daniel Grunhard, who claims McCowan admitted Bach’s murder to him while both were incarcerated at Porter County Jail.

Grunward also told prosecutors that McCowan, now 20, admitted to burying the murder weapon and ultimately beating the state’s “weak case” against him in court.

The twist is that Grunhard just happened to have been defended in another case by Vouga, McCowan’s attorney, which presents an obvious conflict of interest. The solution, ruled by Judge Alexa, is for an outside attorney to cross-examine Grunhard on the stand.

If Grunhard’s claims against McCowan are true, just how common — and how stupid — is this jailhouse scenario, where an alleged murderer can’t keep his mouth shut?

“I am beyond convinced of Dustin McCowan’s guilt by what I personally know, what I have heard come from Amanda’s mouth, and by what is being presented in court,” Duda told me.

“I would love nothing more than to help put him behind bars for the rest of his life,” Duda said. “I want a conviction and I want so badly to start the healing process for her family, myself and the rest of her friends. We deserve this closure.”

McCowan may be guilty in the court of public opinion, but the question I want answered by Vouga, McCowan, or anyone else for that matter, is a simple one.

If Dustin McCowan didn’t kill Amanda Bach, who did?
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Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:02 am

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Normal Amanda Bach’s father is first to take stand in Dustin McCowan’s murder trial

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:59 pm

By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 5, 2013 5:17PM
Updated: February 5, 2013 10:21PM

VALPARAISO — The September 2011 morning before she was killed, 19-year-old Amanda Bach received a “yo” text from her ex-boyfriend, who is now on trial for her murder.

On the witness stand Tuesday, Bach’s father, William J. Bach Jr., told how he learned about it as they drove to lunch while spending a dad-daughter day together.

Amanda texted Dustin McCowan, now 20, back with “hey,” her father said.

They had broken up in July, he said, after she had realized McCowan was going nowhere and she was considering dating another guy.

“I told her, ‘Amanda, you just really need to move on,’ ” Bach said.

Around 10 p.m. that Sept. 15 night, she told her father she was going to meet her cousin and cousin’s boyfriend at Stardust II on U.S. 30 in Hobart to bowl.

Instead, she went to McCowan’s house in Union Township, and early on Sept. 16, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police called Bach to come get his daughter’s car, found abandoned at Dean’s General Store at the corner of Jones Road and Indiana 130 in Wheeler.

He stated the first thing he noticed on the car — with its hazard lights flashing and a door open — was the seat was too far back for petite Amanda to drive it.

After having the car towed back to his Portage home, Bach spent most of the day looking for his daughter, at one point talking to McCowan and his father, Crown Point police officer Elliot McCowan.

Bach testified that McCowan first asked if they checked the car for fingerprints. Bach said the elder McCowan came out and seemed cocky, asking if the car was being processed.

Dustin McCowan didn’t make eye contact, and that’s when Bach said he began to suspect the worst.

“I really didn’t think that something like this could happen. I didn’t want to believe it. She was more responsible than to be in a situation like this — not until I saw him shaking after I talked to him,” Bach said.

The father was the first witness to take the stand in the trial that began with testimony Tuesday afternoon.

‘Sole focus’ of police

The courtroom was packed with family and friends of both Amanda Bach and Dustin McCowan, and the prosecution’s opening statement included photos of Bach during the autopsy and as she was found in the underbrush around the Canadian National railroad tracks.

“She lies hidden, she lies discarded and she is dead,” found about 300 yards from the McCowan home, near County Road 625W, Porter County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said.

The autopsy photos showed her with a red wound in the throat, about an inch under her chin and surrounded by soot, plus black and red specks from unburned gunpowder.

Both indicate Bach was shot at close range, he said.

A photo of her back showed it was rubbed raw with “perimortem wounds,” signs that shortly after death, “she was drug like a backwards wheelbarrow” to where police found her, Frost said.

Frost said the jury will hear from an FBI expert that a tire on Amanda’s car was slashed. He said testimony would include one neighbor hearing outside her window about 1:30 a.m. a male saying “Amanda, get up,” and a female saying “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” Another neighbor heard shots.

McCowan also allegedly said, “This is going to ruin my time at IU, and I’m going to party in her honor” while she was still presumed missing, Frost said.

Defense attorney John Vouga said in his opening statement that McCowan’s story “has never changed, ever” and that “Dustin remained their sole focus despite their inability to link him to this murder through DNA evidence, hair evidence, fiber evidence or fingerprint evidence.”

No other suspects were fingerprinted or had DNA taken, even for exclusion, Vouga said.

Although female DNA was found on Bach, no females had DNA samples taken, and an orange hooded sweatshirt found near the scene had her blood on it but no DNA from McCowan.

“I’m going to ask you to rely on evidence that cannot lie — the science,” Vouga said. “It will tell you that Dustin McCowan did not murder Amanda Bach, and if you look closely, it might just tell you who did.”

Vouga also said the state hasn’t found where the murder scene was, just where the body was located, and that the investigation didn’t identify the McCowan home as the scene.

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Post by Wrapitup on Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:00 pm


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Normal Defense in McCowan murder trial point finger at someone else

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:09 am

John J. Watkins, The Times
Dustin McCowan, the suspect in the 2011 slaying of Amanda Bach, arrives Monday at the Porter County Courthouse for the start his trial.

February 06, 2013 3:15 pm • Bob Kasarda [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], (219) 548-4345(120) Comments
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The McCowan Murder Trial
VALPARAISO | A Wheeler man who led police to the missing body of Amanda Bach vehemently denied repeated suggestions by defense attorneys on Wednesday that he, and not Dustin McCowan, is responsible for her death.

During an intense cross-examination, defense attorney Nicholas Barnes questioned how Nicholas Prochno was able to interrupt the search on Sept. 17, 2011, and within just a few minutes, lead police directly to Bach's body 2 1/2 miles away.

Prochno testified he was following a hunch based on information he had heard from his fiancee that young females had been seen in that area along railroad tracks in the past.

Barnes also questioned Prochno on how he knew several of the details in the case as early as he did. Prochno said he had learned some of the information on Facebook and from newspapers.

"Absolutely not," Prochno repeatedly said to suggestions that he was responsible for the murder. "I've never been in contact with Amanda Bach in my entire life."

The testimony came on the third day of the trial accusing 19-year-old Amanda Bach's former boyfriend, McCowan, of shooting her to death on Sept. 16, 2011. Bach's body was found fewer than 300 yards from where 20-year-old McCowan was living at the time.

Valparaiso police Detective Sgt. David Castellanos, who was with Prochno when he found Bach's body, testified he found nothing strange about Prochno or his involvement in the search.

Castellanos said he was the one who pointed out the matted foliage that Prochno followed to Bach's body.

"I don't think Nicholas Prochno led us anywhere," Castellanos said.

Earlier in the day, Michelle Walbright, who lives two houses away from where McCowan was living at the time in Union Township, said she heard three gun shots at 12:20 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011.

Walbright recalled asking her daughter, "Why would somebody be shooting a gun this time of night?"

Walbright said no one else in her house heard the shots.

Another neighbor in the same area, Linda Phillips, told jurors Wednesday she heard a male voice outside her house between 1 and 1:45 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, repeatedly saying, "Amanda get up."

Phillips said those pleas were followed by a single comment from a female voice saying, "I can't believe this is happening."

She said she saw no one, could not identify the speakers and heard nothing else, but said the man spoke in a calm and gentle voice.

"She sounded a little upset," Phillips said of the female voice.

Phillips said she shared the information with Portage resident William Bach later that morning when he came to her house looking for his missing daughter, Amanda Bach. She said she asked if his daughter was Amanda before he revealed her name.

"He turned pale," Phillips said.

Phillips also said she noticed all the lights on in the nearby McCowan house and Dustin McCowan's father's Crown Point police car parked outside, when he was supposed to be on duty.

Amanda Bach's mother, Sandra Bach, testified McCowan had been verbally abusive to her daughter during their relationship, though she said they both bickered with each other. She said she encouraged her daughter to leave him entirely behind after they broke up in early August 2011.

"He's psycho or bipolar," Sandra Bach said she told her daughter. "You don't need that kind of person in your life."

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Normal Friend of McCowan testifies at Amanda Bach murder trial

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:02 pm

By JEFF SCHULTZ

The lifelong friend of Dustin McCowan took the witness stand at his trial Thursday afternoon.

Brandon Hutchins graduated from Wheeler High School with McCowan in 2011 and testified that they’ve been best friends since they were 6.“He’s like my brother,” Hutchins said under Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek’s direct examination.But, Hutchins testified, after graduation their friendship began to veer after making plans to attend college together. Hutchins was accepted at Vincennes University while McCowan was unable to secure student loans.

When asked by Polarek how McCowan felt about that, Hutchins said his friend was “pretty upset,” not knowing “what he was supposed to do next” after graduation.Polarek next asked Hutchins if his going to school played a role in the argument which McCowan was reported to have had with his on-and-off girlfriend Amanda Bach during a going-away party in late July. Hutchins said that his going to school played no role in the argument and added that the couple “argued a lot, always saying they were mad at each other,” since they began dating in the summer of 2010.

“When did they break-up?” Polarek asked. At a friend’s party in mid-August 2011, Hutchins replied. He said Bach was in one room pretending to be asleep and heard McCowan from another room talking about another girl he liked. She grabbed her purse, told McCowan to leave her alone, and left, Hutchins.

During the summer, Hutchins said that Bach and he—Hutchins—became closer friends and saw each other “every day, pretty much” without McCowan’s knowing.

That Labor Day weekend, Hutchins came home from school and attended a bonfire with Bach that McCowan was also at. Bach began texting McCowan who told her verbally, “Don’t ever text me again,” because she had stolen his best friend.

Hutchins said that McCowan texted him that night “She’s coming between us, bro,” to which Hutchins said that he texted back “No, she’s not.”

Pregnancy scare
“I believe there was an issue about a pregnancy,” Polarek continued. “(McCowan) thought she was,” Hutchins said, because he believed Bach did not get her period. She did get it later, Hutchins said, but when he told McCowan “she can’t be pregnant” he didn’t believe him. Hutchins said the possible pregnancy made McCowan anxious and told him “this is going to screw up my life, I can’t have a baby,” and that he would “punch (Bach) in the stomach” if she were pregnant. Hutchins said he personally bought a home pregnancy test for Bach over Labor Day weekend and that she used it at his house that Saturday night.

“And what was the result?” Polarek said. “It was negative.” said Hutchins.

Later, under cross-examination by defense attorney Nick Barnes, Hutchins said that McCowan did drop the subject of pregnancy after being told that Bach was not pregnant. “He didn’t bring it up again, did he?” asked Barnes. “No,” Hutchins said.

Amanda goes missing
In direct examination, Hutchins said that he and Bach agreed to start dating a week or so before she went missing and that McCowan did know about it. Hutchins and Bach were Skyping early on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, while he was away at school and she was at home, Hutchins said. Bach told Hutchins that she was going over to McCowan’s to drink and hang out and Hutchins said that he objected to her plan, saying that he “didn’t want to see her go over there” because he thought McCowan might hurt her. Hutchins said that even though they fought, McCowan “liked Amanda a lot.” “I didn’t want him to know the fact I was stealing his girlfriend,” he said.

Hutchins last talked to Bach at 10:40 p.m. on her cell and that she told him she was going to McCowan’s house when his dad left.

On Sept. 16, about 5:30 a.m., Hutchins saw “a bunch of missed calls” on his cell from McCowan asking Hutchins to call him, Hutchins testified. When Hutchins contacted McCowan— who at that time was at Hutchins’ home—McCowan with “genuine concern” told him that Bach had gone missing after leaving his house at 1:30 a.m. and that police had found her car abandoned. The two agreed to “call some people.”

Hutchins said he spent that Friday night in his dorm with friends. He said his reason for not going home was because his car was in the shop and he did not have a ride. But he “wanted to be there for the search parties.”
On Saturday afternoon, Hutchins heard from his sister that Bach’s body had been found dead, prompting him to immediately call McCowan while he was at I.U. Hutchins recalled telling McCowan “Hey, bro, they found her… She’s dead.”

McCowan began crying, Hutchins testified, and ended the call saying “he had to go.”

Hutchins said he texted McCowan sometime before 7 p.m. on Saturday “… you can tell me anything. I’m here for you, bro.” The text was not returned.

“Why did you say that to him?” Polarek inquired.“If he did have any involvement, I wanted him to tell me.”

Cross-examination
Barnes began his cross-examination by asking Hutchins if he was angry or jealous that Bach went to McCowan’s house on the evening of Sept. 16. Hutchins said that he was not angry but admitted jealousy. Barnes asked if it was true that McCowan, before he dated Bach, had encouraged a relationship between her and Hutchins. Hutchins said that it was true but he did not pursue one because he knew McCowan liked her.

Barnes was also curious about Hutchins’ location on Sept. 16, saying that his phone calls were “going through a switch up here” instead of at or around Vincennes. And Barnes asked for proof that Hutchins’ car was being worked on.

The Porter County Sheriff’s Police is said to have confirmed that Hutchins was in class that day. The sensor in his vehicle was dying out, he said, and he said he took it to the “school’s auto shop,” but had nothing to prove it.

Barnes asked if the police ever took a sample of his DNA, to which Hutchins said “No.” Police, however, did search Hutchin’s room at school while he was not there and interviewed his roommates.

Hutchins testified that, in the past, he had been close to the area where Bach’s body was found near the Canadian National railroad because that is where he would help McCowan dump trash after parties.

Barnes also asked about text messages which Hutchins sent to McCowan, including ones about giving information to the police and another saying Bach’s father had his daughter’s cell phone when it was missing with her.

He also wanted to hear more about why Hutchins didn’t try harder to find a ride home on Friday.
“You didn’t ask anyone?” “My mom said she thought it would be a waste of gas,”

Based on the previous questions, Barnes asked if Hutchins felt he was “insinuating that he [Hutchins] killed Amanda Bach.” Hutchins said he felt that way.

Re-direct
Polarek then asked Hutchins to answer three questions before he was excused.
“Did you hurt Amanda Bach?
“No.”
“Did you kidnap Amanda Bach?
“No.”
“Did you kill Amanda Bach?
“No.

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Normal Defense Team Tries To Pin Bach Murder On Search Party Member

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:18 pm

February 8, 2013 1:27 PM

VALPARAISO, Ind. (STMW) – The defense in the Dustin McCowan murder trial offered up an alternate suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach — one of the prosecution’s witnesses and the man who found her body.

However, the aggressive pursuit during Wednesday afternoon’s questioning earned defense attorney Nick Barnes multiple admonishments from Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa.

And Valparaiso Police Department Detective David Castellanos later disagreed on the stand with the defense’s contention that Nicholas Prochno, 30, of Wheeler, led police away from investigating abandoned houses and directly to the body.

Prochno suggested that police officers look around the railroad tracks where his fiancée had seen young people congregate.

Prochno said that on Sept. 17, he approached Valparaiso police officers who were searching in Wheeler and mentioned that his fiancée and he had talked about the area and thought police should know.

“I thought it was valuable. They reacted like it was,” Prochno said.

While looking with police, Prochno followed a path of trampled plants into bushes and found Bach.

Barnes focused on Prochno finding the body within 5 minutes of beginning the search when hundreds of others were searching for 34 hours.

Confirming that Prochno felt panicked, Barnes said, “I can see why,” leading to his first judicial rebuke.

Alexa said, “That is totally inappropriate, and refrain from putting your opinion into anything.”

Barnes also brought up Prochno’s police interview, where he said he always wanted to be a police officer and told police County Road 625W had no spot to abduct someone due to lack of stop signs or traffic lights, except where the trains sometimes stall.

Prochno said he thought Bach went missing before her car reached the corner of County Road 625W and Indiana 130, where it was found with a flat tire, because she didn’t immediately call her boyfriend or father when her car broke down.

Barnes said he found nothing in newspapers or on Facebook that she didn’t call, so he asked how Prochno could have known.

“Isn’t it true that you know because you were there when she was abducted?” Barnes said. “Then on (Sept. 17) when police were getting close to finding your hiding spot, you led them to the body.”

An abandoned house was next to Prochno’s home, Barnes said.

Prochno said under cross-examination that police never collected his DNA or fingerprints even to rule him out and never checked his cell phone or calling records.

Castellanos took the stand after Prochno and said police were already done investigating a suspicious house when Prochno approached them. He said they decided to follow the possible lead because they had nothing else to do.

He said others who joined in the search had also talked with police officers. Prochno didn’t lead them to the body, rather Castellano said he told Prochno to follow the path.

Although Prochno seemed scared when he found the body, Castellano said he didn’t find the man’s behavior odd.

Under cross-examination, Castellano said he and other Valparaiso officers didn’t check inside abandoned houses.

Dustin McCowan is charged with murder in the death of Amanda Bach, 19.

Other testimony included McCowan neighbor Linda Phillips, who said she heard 20 minutes of a male voice saying “Amanda, get up” outside her bedroom window and the female once saying “I don’t believe this is happening.”

“He wasn’t yelling at her. He was gentle. It was a gentle voice,” Phillips said.

However, the female sounded stressed, the witness said.

Neighbor Michele Albright testified she heard three gunshots after midnight, although under cross-examination she couldn’t pinpoint the exact time.

Bach’s mother, Sandra Bach, was the first witness of the day and spoke about having talks with Amanda about her relationship with McCowan, which officially ended around July-August of 2011.

“I used the words ‘he’s a psycho or bi-polar. You don’t need that in your life,’ ” Sandra Bach said.

In answer to a juror’s submitted question, Sandra Bach said, “I wasn’t aware of any physical type of abuse, but verbal, yes.”

Under cross-examination, she said that they bickered often.

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Normal Re: Death of Portage 19-yr-old Amanda Bach/Ex BF Charged with Her Murder /Bail Hearing for Man Accused of Amanda's Murder, Bail Denied/Trial to start Feb 4th/ McCowan found guilty/Sentenced to 60 years!

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:05 pm

Friends of defendant testify in McCowan murder trial

By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 12, 2013 12:52PM
Updated: February 12, 2013 7:43PM

VALPARAISO — A group of Wheeler-area residents who had been friends with defendant Dustin McCowan testified Tuesday, including a woman he was involved with after he broke up with the woman he is accused of killing.

Two men testified about McCowan showing off guns at his home, and Allison Bolde testified about spending much of Sept. 16, 2011, with McCowan — when the search for 19-year-old Amanda Bach began.

Bolde and McCowan spent much of the morning contacting people.

But Bolde had concerns about some things McCowan said, such as Bach leaving his home at 1:30 a.m. Bach was good about making her 1 a.m. curfew, Bolde said.

McCowan went outside to make one call and was picked up by his father off the street, leaving Bolde alone at their home for about five minutes and not talking to her or saying where they went when they returned.

She said he kept repeating that he and Bach hadn’t fought the night before and said when he went to Indiana University later that Friday, “he was going to party in her honor,” as if he already knew Bach was dead.

McCowan also continued to be obsessed about Bach’s possible pregnancy, even after a store test was negative and Bach was “spotting.”

Bolde said she was Bach’s best friend, although they didn’t talk as much when Bolde began a physical relationship with McCowan.

Tyler Crussen, who is two years younger than McCowan, said he used to attend parties at McCowan’s home when Crussen was a freshman and they were close.

He said McCowan showed him where he dumped bottles and trash so McCowan’s parents wouldn’t know.

Crussen was in that area during the search for Bach and estimated he came within 10 yards of where the body was later found.

However, he didn’t see her capri pants in the tree, the orange shirt near the tracks or Bach’s flip-flops in the dirt, and his friends wanted to leave rather than search.

He didn’t recall talking about the spot with Nick Prochno, the father of one of his friends and the man who found the body.

The defense has portrayed Prochno as a suspect since he testified last week.

Crussen also recalled McCowan showing off a gun.

Erik Schaffer said McCowan sometimes brought out a semi-automatic weapon when they were drinking.

McCowan once pulled out the gun during a party and was threatening to shoot people he didn’t want at his home.

Schaffer, now a Marine, said he and McCowan drifted apart after graduating.

“I was looking at the Marine Corps and I didn’t want to do drugs, and he was doing a lot of weed,” Schaffer said.

During the morning, an FBI expert testified that the only DNA she could link conclusively to McCowan was on his cellphone.

DNA on some of the 19 items tested was inconclusive, FBI forensics examiner Heather LaSalle said.

A swab from Bach’s steering wheel didn’t yield DNA evidence from either McCowan or Bach, and none of the swabs from the car had enough DNA for a sample.

The DNA found on Bach’s left breast didn’t seem to be from a male because the small sample lacked a “Y” chromosome, but it was a small sample of only a few cells.

“I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that it is female DNA,” LaSalle said, and it could also have transferred from shared clothing.

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Normal Friend tells jurors McCowan acted odd after Bach disappeared

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:52 pm

February 12, 2013 6:30 pm • Bob Kasarda [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], (219) 548-4345(109) Comments

The McCowan Murder Trial
VALPARAISO | A woman with Dustin McCowan on the morning of Sept. 16, 2011, told jurors Tuesday she thought it odd one of McCowan's first comments was he and former girlfriend Amanda Bach had not fought the night before considering the turbulent nature of their relationship.

Allie Bolde, a senior at Wheeler High School, also found it strange McCowan said Bach had left his house at 1:30 a.m. when she had a 1 a.m. curfew.

"She would never go home at 1:30," Bolde said.

Bolde said McCowan remained calmer than her as they spread news of 19-year-old Bach's disappearance that morning. He walked outside at one point to talk on the phone and after disappearing out of sight, sent her a text that his father and Crown Point police officer, Joseph Elliott McCowan, had picked him up for a short drive. The two then returned to their then-Union Township house five minutes later without comment.

McCowan, 20, said during the morning that if the worst had happened, he hoped they would find Bach so he could have closure, Bolde said. McCowan also reportedly told her the situation was going to ruin his planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington later that day.

Bolde said she also found it odd McCowan was talking about laundry in anticipation of his IU trip and was seen pulling clothes out of the dryer.

"I've never seen him do laundry," she said.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Michelle Morris, a DNA biologist with the FBI, testified that a recovered T-shirt containing Bach's blood had a faint-colored stain that could have resulted from being washed.

Bolde also testified that within the month leading up to Bach's death, McCowan was very upset about the potential Bach was pregnant, though she was not. He also reportedly told her during this period he could kill anyone except his family.

McCowan's friends Erik Schaffer and Tyler Crussen testified Tuesday they had seen McCowan showing off a handgun at his home.

Schaffer said McCowan once talked about shooting uninvited guests to one of many drinking parties he hosted at his home.

Crussen testified he saw McCowan dumping trash from those parties in the area along the nearby railroad tracks where Bach's body was discovered.

In other testimony Tuesday, FBI firearm and tool mark examiner Brett Mills said the bullet removed from Bach's body is of the "same design" as cartridges turned over to police by McCowan's father.

Mills also said a puncture mark in the sidewall of a flattened tire from Bach's car appeared to have been created by a stabbing from a single-edge knife.

In response to questioning from the defense, Mills said it cannot be determined if the bullet recovered from Bach is from the same group of cartridges provided by Joseph Elliott McCowan.

Mills also said the bullet could have been fired from a few different types and makes of guns in the .38-caliber family. Joseph Elliott McCowan has told investigators a .38-caliber revolver is missing from his home.

Prosecutors do not have the gun used in Bach's killing.

Morris testified McCowan's DNA was not found on any other items collected as part of the homicide investigation except his cellphone and a long-sleeve orange T-shirt collected from him at the jail.

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Normal Pathologist says Bach died 24 to 48 hours before body was found

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:54 pm

By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 13, 2013 1:02PM
Updated: February 14, 2013 11:06AM

VALPARAISO — The place where searchers and police found the body of 19-year-old Amanda Bach was where she had been since about the time of her murder, according to expert witnesses testifying Wednesday.

And there were no signs of sexual abuse, one witness testified Wednesday at the murder trial of Dustin McCowan, 20.

Dr. John E. Cavanaugh, the forensic pathologist who performed the Bach autopsy, said she had been dead for 24 to 48 hours when found Sept. 17, 2011.

He based this on the rate the body went through the death cycle, blood pooling in the body after the heart stops pumping and the lack of advanced decomposition.

There was no obvious trauma to Bach sexually, although there were other wounds, many after she died, he said.

Those injuries showed little or no signs of healing or bleeding, and the raw marks on her upper back showed she been dragged by her legs, Cavanaugh said.

Injuries around her knees occurred after she died and weren’t related to each other. The marks behind her knees may have been done by her capri pants, but the strong likelihood is they weren’t made by a belt or rope, he said.

None of the injuries indicated she was beaten or punched before her death.

Her head was likely pulled back and turned, and gunpowder on her body showed her right hand went across her chest when she was shot at close range.

Cavanaugh said the toxicology report showed some alcohol in Bach’s system, but that could’ve been from drinking or from natural decomposing in a low temperature.

Forensic entomologist Dr. Ralph Williams said that because of the cold weather, the large amount of blowfly eggs on her indicated she’d been there for a while.

The eggs need 267 to 300 hours above 50 degrees to develop, and these only had 89 hours, based on weather reports showing the temperature rose that high about 10:30 to 11 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011.

However, he admitted under cross-examination that he didn’t look up the minimum amount of time for eggs to hatch, just the median time.

Both men put holes in an alternate suspect theory that defense attorneys Nick Barnes and John Vouga have promoted suggesting someone put her body there later, possibly the Wheeler man who found her body.

Detective Sgt. Tim Manteuffel of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department testified that an orange shirt found near the Canadian National Railway tracks, which was similar to ones McCowan wore, was wet and bundled.

Investigators found Bach’s blood on it, smeared, but no traces of McCowan’s hair or DNA or his dog’s hair.

Manteuffel described the shirt as being as if it had come out of the laundry, heavy wet but not dripping.

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Normal McCowan's mother, uncle testify at murder trial

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:55 pm

The McCowan Murder Trial
VALPARAISO | An uncle of Dustin McCowan told jurors Thursday morning that McCowan canceled a visit with him on the night McCowan is accused of killing former girlfriend Amanda Bach.

Russell McCowan said Dustin confirmed the late-night visit in September of 2011 only to respond a few minutes later that his stomach hurt and he was going to bed.

The testimony comes just days after McCowan’s friend Jordan Walbright told jurors McCowan sent her repeated text messages between 1:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. the same day saying he was on his way to her house. But he never showed up.

McCowan’s mother, Jamie Tome, told jurors Thursday morning she was concerned when she learned Bach’s body had been found near the Union Township home where her son had been living at that time.

Tome testified that she suggested McCowan return from his planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington to help search for Bach. According to Tome, McCowan responded that he would have returned had he been the one who had driven to Bloomington.

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Normal Testimony: McCowan showed friends a gun

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:59 pm

Testimony: McCowan showed friends a gun
By JEFF SCHULTZ

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),” said Bolde.

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 terms.”

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 calm.”

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 five minutes.

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 interrogated.”

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 to him.

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.”

Cross-examination
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.
“Yes.”
And later…
“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 his home.

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.

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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.

In direct 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.

He further 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.

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Normal Expert says Amanda Bach’s body was moved

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:16 pm

By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 15, 2013 5:34PM

Updated: February 15, 2013 6:02PM

VALPARAISO — It’s unlikely the body of Amanda Bach had always been where searchers found it, according to an expert for the defense team of Dustin McCowan, 20.

McCowan is accused of murdering 19-year-old Bach in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, and leaving her body among trees off the Canadian National tracks near his home.

Forensic entomology consultant Neal Haskell said during Friday’s testimony that it’s more probable her body was put there on Sept. 17, the day it was found, or late night Sept. 16.

On cross-examination, Haskell acknowledged the body could have been put there the morning of Sept. 16.

But based on his calculations of whether there was enough heat for blowfly eggs to develop, the eggs should have been hatching by the time of the autopsy on Sept. 19, 2011 in Indianapolis.

“We should’ve started seeing maggots at that time,” he said.

Haskell’s testimony contradicted the prosecution’s expert, forensic entomologist Dr. Ralph Williams, who was also Haskell’s mentor and who testified Wednesday.

Both agreed blowflies are dormant at night and require temperatures greater than 50 degrees F to function and have eggs develop.

Haskell said there were enough hours, especially if you include after the body was found, for some egg hatching.

He also said police should not have decided whether fly eggs found on the body were important, but an entomologist should decide.

Haskell was the first defense witness, although the prosecution’s case will continue Monday.

Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa allowed early testimony because Haskell isn’t available next week.

Three acquaintances of Bach and McCowan also testified Friday.

Jessica Guy said McCowan was at a party at her Bloomington apartment Sept. 17 when he got a phone call about Bach’s body being found.

Guy said he showed no emotion, and she later saw him waiting for a ride and with his hands rubbing over his face while he sat.

Bach’s friend Eric Rivera testified that once when texting Bach, McCowan took the phone and for an hour tried to pick a fight with Rivera, even though the two had never met.

David Elliot, a friend of Bach’s, said he was never entirely sure he’d seen Bach at the Portage Wal-Mart, as he put on Facebook during the search.

He was only 40 percent sure and never saw her directly from the front, he said.

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Normal Re: Death of Portage 19-yr-old Amanda Bach/Ex BF Charged with Her Murder /Bail Hearing for Man Accused of Amanda's Murder, Bail Denied/Trial to start Feb 4th/ McCowan found guilty/Sentenced to 60 years!

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:19 pm


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Normal Re: Death of Portage 19-yr-old Amanda Bach/Ex BF Charged with Her Murder /Bail Hearing for Man Accused of Amanda's Murder, Bail Denied/Trial to start Feb 4th/ McCowan found guilty/Sentenced to 60 years!

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:19 pm

McCowan gun discovered missing day Bach's body recovered

February 14, 2013 5:40 pm • Bob Kasarda [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], (219) 548-4345(114)

VALPARAISO | The father of Dustin McCowan told jurors Thursday morning he discovered a .38-caliber, five-shot revolver missing from his then-Union Township home on the day his son's former girlfriend was found shot to death fewer than 300 yards from the house.

Joseph Elliott McCowan said he had the Smith & Wesson gun since 2005 or 2006 and had last seen the loaded weapon under a couch on Sept. 12, 2011, days before 19-year-old Amanda Bach was shot to death. Dustin McCowan is on trial, accused of murdering Bach.

An FBI firearm examiner testified Tuesday the bullet removed from Bach's body is of the "same design" as cartridges turned over by Joseph McCowan for the missing gun. But it also was stated the bullet could have been fired from a few different types and makes of guns in the .38-caliber family.

In response to questioning from the defense, Joseph McCowan said police would not have known about the missing gun had he not offered the information. He also said that while his son had access to the gun and knew how to shoot, 13 others also had access to the missing weapon.

He denied making any attempt to cover up his son's involvement in the case and confirmed the validity of work records showing he was on the job as a Crown Point police officer during and immediately following the Sept. 16, 2011, believed killing time. A neighbor of McCowan at the time testified she saw Joseph Elliott McCowan's police car at home on the night in question.

Earlier in the morning, Dustin McCowan's uncle Russell McCowan testified Dustin canceled a visit with him on the night he is accused of killing Bach.

Russell McCowan said Dustin McCowan confirmed the visit of Sept. 16, 2011, only to respond a few minutes later that his stomach hurt and he was going to bed.

The testimony comes just days after Dustin McCowan’s friend Jordan Walbright told jurors Dustin McCowan sent her repeated text messages between 1:36 and 4:07 a.m. the same day, saying he was on his way to her house. But he never showed up.

Dustin McCowan’s mother, Jamie Tome, told jurors Thursday morning she was concerned when she learned Bach’s body had been found near the Union Township home where her son had been living at the time with his father.

Tome testified she suggested McCowan return from his planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington to help search for Bach. According to Tome, McCowan responded that he would have returned had he been the one who had driven to Bloomington.

Capt. Jeff Biggs, commander of the Porter County sheriff's Detective Bureau, has led the McCowan investigation. He testified late Thursday that more than 150 people were interviewed and yet evidence pointed to no one but McCowan.

The defense meticulously picked away at the investigation, arguing significant information had been ignored by police and much of the investigation was carried out after McCowan already was charged.

Biggs said a five-hour search of the McCowan home revealed nothing linking McCowan to the murder.

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Normal Former jail inmate says Dustin McCowan admitted to shooting Amanda

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:09 pm

VALPARAISO | A former inmate at the Porter County Jail claims Dustin McCowan told him while they were locked up that he shot someone named Amanda and buried the gun so well it never will be found.

Daniel Grunhard said McCowan, who's accused of killing Amanda Bach, told him he shot Amanda with a gun he kept under the seat of his car because she crossed him.

Grunhard, 35, who is now serving a six-year sentence at the Westville Correctional Facility after failing out of the county's drug court program last fall, said McCowan did not say how Bach had crossed him.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa confirmed Wednesday afternoon that prosecutors may use Grunhard's claims as part of their case against 20-year-old McCowan, who will stand trial Feb. 4 on a charge of murdering 19-year-old Bach, of Portage.

Bach, who was McCowan's former girlfriend, was found dead Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan's Union Township home.

The claims by Grunhard triggered a hearing Wednesday afternoon because he is a client of John Vouga's Portage law firm, which also is representing McCowan.

Vouga told Alexa on Wednesday if Grunhard is allowed to testify, he and other attorneys at his firm will be put in a professional and ethical conflict that could result in sanctions, including suspensions.

The firm has confidential information about Grunhard from his own criminal case that could be used to his detriment if the Valparaiso resident testifies against McCowan, Vouga said. The firm would be in conflict with their representation of Grunhard if they reveal the information at trial, but would be at odds with their responsibility to McCowan if those details are not used in his defense, Vouga said.

Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said Grunhard's testimony is an essential part of the case against McCowan.

Alexa said Grunhard will be allowed to testify, but an independent defense attorney will be brought in to handle the cross-examination after he has testified on behalf of prosecutors. The attorney will be filled in on the details of this case but will know none of the confidential information from Grunhard's criminal case.

Alexa left the choice of the attorney up to Vouga, but suggested turning the decision over to the county public defender's office.

At Vouga's request, Alexa agreed to contact the state Supreme Court to shed light on the steps being taken to address Vouga's ethical concerns. Vouga said he was told the state Supreme Court still can take disciplinary action if a lower court determines there is no conflict of interest.

"Obviously we're concerned about that," Vouga said.

Polarek told the court in a memorandum that Grunhard was made no promises in return for his testimony.

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Normal Dustin McCowan opts against telling his side of the story

Post by raine1953 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:01 pm

VALPARAISO | The evidence portion of the Dustin McCowan murder trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon with the accused opting against taking the witness stand to tell his side of the story.

The defense rested after presenting 11 witnesses over the past two days, as compared to 43 witnesses presented by prosecutors over the 2 1/2 weeks prior.

Closing arguments and deliberations will begin Tuesday, according to Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

A defense witness told jurors Thursday morning that calls placed from McCowan's cellphone on the night he is accused of killing his former girlfriend Amanda Bach were placed from his home.

The testimony from private investigator and former state police Officer Ryan Harmon conflicted with evidence presented earlier this week by prosecutors that McCowan's cellphone was shown during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, to be at several locations around and between where 19-year-old Bach's body and car were found. They were discovered not far from McCowan's then-Union Township home.

Harmon said he came to his conclusion by locating the cellphone towers in the area in question, mapping how far out their signals carry and then looking to see where they overlapped.

Prosecutors did not use this overlapping technique, which is the best approach considering the lack of GPS technology available, he said.

"These plots are not GPS," he said of the maps provided by prosecutors that show individual locations of cellphone activity rather than sweeping signals areas from the towers.

Harmon acknowledged in response to a question from the jury that the plots presented by prosecutors fell within the tower signal area.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Frost did not question Harmon's findings, but rather questioned him about his three recent convictions for providing false information to police during an investigation.

Harmon said the convictions resulted from political attacks stemming from his investigations into public corruption. He said he maintains his innocence and is appealing.

Frost also asked Harmon whether it was true he was pressured to retire as a state police officer and left in disgrace. Harmon said no to the latter question and said he simply retired.

Also testifying Thursday on behalf of the defense was Les Blythe, co-owner of Blythe's Sport Shop in Valparaiso and Griffith, who said that more than half of the guns sold at his two stores each year fit the diameter description of the weapon used in Bach's slaying.

Each store also sells 20,000 rounds of that type of ammunition each year, he said.

The only question posed by Frost was whether Blythe knew how many Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolvers were reported missing from McCowan's house. Blythe did not know.

Porter County Deputy Coroner David Souders testified Thursday he saw some blood under Bach's body from the area where it was recovered along County Road 625 West at the Canadian National Railroad tracks.

But he could not say if that is the area where she had been shot.
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Normal McCowan to cellmate: ‘I shot a girl ... because she crossed me’

Post by raine1953 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:11 pm

VALPARAISO — The trial of Dustin McCowan, 20, for the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach switched directions Wednesday as the defense began its case — but not before the final prosecution witness said McCowan admitted in jail to shooting Bach.

Former Porter County Jail inmate Daniel A. Grunhard, 35, said McCowan told him over the course of three jail conversations that he shot her.

McCowan initially told Grunhard he was in for a shooting, which Grunhard presumed was gang-related because of the number of gang members in their section.

“He said, ‘No, I shot a girl.’ I asked him, ‘Why would you shoot a girl?’ He said, ‘Because she crossed me,’ ” Grunhard said.

Bach was killed on Sept. 15 or 16 in 2011.

Another time, Grunhard said, McCowan allegedly told him the state had no case and couldn’t find the pistol he used, which he’d buried.

And Grunhard said he overheard McCowan tell another inmate that the prosecution “would never be able to prove he shot the bitch — his words, not mine.”

Attorney John Cantrell conducted a cross-examination because defense attorneys John Vouga and Nick Barnes have both represented Grunhard, who is serving six years for drug-related charges after failing out of the Porter County Drug Court therapeutic program.

Cantrell questioned whether Grunhard had gotten an easier sentence because he was willing to testify against Edgar Tillery, who shot up his Portage workplace in July 2010 and bragged about it in jail

Grunhard said he had not and that the prosecution did not talk to him about McCowan until after he was sentenced and no longer employing Vouga or Barnes.

For the defense witnesses, a friend of McCowan’s, who’d allegedly said she was glad Bach was dead, testified that she and McCowan had been involved physically and that she felt he was unjustly prosecuted.

Shelby Reilly admitted she was jealous “maybe a little” of Bach and wore a bright orange zip-up sweatshirt.

The prosecution introduced two long-sleeve orange shirts as evidence over the past 11 days of testimony, one that McCowan was wearing when arrested and a matching one found near the railroad tracks where Bach’s body was found.

Reilly said she did not know McCowan was involved with other women and was in love with him, but the other women were part of why their relationship ended.

She said she did not recall saying anything about Bach, but she texted with McCowan twice the night Bach disappeared.

He replied to her about 11:19 p.m. that he wasn’t home and then asked her about 12:34 a.m. if she would come over.

McCowan said Bach left his place at 1 a.m., and Reilly said she did not know if Bach was with him when he texted.

A newspaper delivery woman testified that she saw the black flip-flops allegedly owned by Bach in the gravel drive of a utility station near McCowan’s home for two nights in a row, but they weren’t found there later.

Barnes said the defense plans to call five more witnesses on Thursday and may be ready to wrap up then.

No date is set for closing arguments and the start of jury deliberations.
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Normal Murder trial ending Tuesday

Post by raine1953 on Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:30 pm

VALPARAISO | After three weeks of evidence and testimony, the jury is expected to begin deliberating Tuesday on the fate of Dustin McCowan -- accused of murdering his former girlfriend Amanda Bach.

Security, heightened during the trial for the large crowds of supporters present for each family, is expected to be enhanced even further Tuesday. There is also talk of demonstrations outside the courthouse.

Prosecutors and the defense will be given up to two hours each Tuesday morning to sum up the weeks of evidence presented during the trial.

The jury will then be provided with instructions from the court before heading off behind closed doors with the goal of coming up with a verdict. The group needs to come up with a unanimous decision to either free or convict McCowan.

The defense wrapped up its case Thursday after presenting 11 witnesses over a two-day period. Prosecutors presented 43 witnesses over the 2 1/2 weeks prior.

McCowan, 20, is accused of shooting 19-year-old Bach in the throat during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011 after she showed up at the Union Township-home he was living in at the time with his father. Bach's partially clothed body was found the following day less than 300 yards from the house in wooded area along County Road 625 West at the Canadian National Railroad tracks.

Prosecutors have presented witnesses who said they saw McCowan walking in the area on the night in question and heard gunshots, a man's voice saying, "Amanda get up," and a female responding, "I can't believe this is happening."

An FBI witness also testified a puncture in the sidewall of Bach's car tire appeared to have been created by a stabbing from a knife.

McCowan, who opted against taking the stand to tell his side of the story, maintains his innocence. His defense team spent much of the trial criticizing the police investigation as inadequate. The defense has raised question about the involvement of other individuals, including the Wheeler man who helped police locate Bach's body.

Conflicting evidence was presented about the whereabouts of McCowan's cellphone during the time period in question and how long Bach's body had been lying outside based on the maturation of fly eggs. There was testimony McCowan repeatedly sent text messages to a friend from 1:36 a.m. to 4:07 a.m. on the day in question saying he was coming over and yet never showed up.

There was no DNA or other bodily evidence presented directly linking McCowan to the crime. While the gun used in the crime was never found, McCowan's father testified that one that could have been used was discovered missing from his house. An FBI witness said several types and makes of guns could have been used.

Both sides also presented testimony about McCowan's decision to follow through on a planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington on the day Bach went missing, and his decision not to return to help search for her body.
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Normal McCowan guilty: Jurors say he killed ex-girlfriend Amanda Bach

Post by raine1953 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:21 am

Updated: February 27, 2013 12:42AM

VALPARAISO — When the jury read it’s verdict of guilty about 11 p.m. Tuesday, 20-year-old Dustin McCowan held his head down, while relatives of his victim held their linked hands up together.

Bill Bach, the father of the murder victim, 19-year-old daughter Amanda Bach, held up a photo of his daughter as the jury returned its verdict.
Sandra Bach, the victim’s mother, carried the photo over her head as Bach’s family left before the McCowan family, all under the watchful eyes of 12 Porter County Sheriff’s Police Officers, Sheriff David Lain, a Porter County corrections officer and a Porter County Court Security officer.

McCowan himself kept his head down.

His father, Joseph Elliot McCowan, simply said, “I’ve got nothing to say to you.”

McCowan faces 45 to 65 years in prison when Porter Superior Judge William Alexa sentences him at 2 p.m. March 28.

He’s convicted of shooting Bach in the neck early on Sept. 16, 2011, after she visited him at his Union Township home on Sept. 15.

Bach, of Portage, was his ex-girlfriend, and he’d been upset about a pregnancy scare after they broke up, and she had begun dating his best friend.

In a news conference after the verdict, Sandra Bach said of the jury’s decision, “It doesn’t bring her back, but it is justice.”

Bill Bach said the jury asked a lot of insightful questions that the prosecution couldn’t — 95 by Alexa’s count — and that helped.

“We never lost faith in them,” he said.

Bill and Sandra Bach, who sat through the entire trial, said they kept strength in the face of brutal photos and evidence by keeping their daughter in mind.

“She was brutally murdered,” Bill Bach said.

“By a coward,” Sandra Bach finished.

They both said they hope McCowan gets the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Defense attorneys John Vouga and Nick Barnes plan to appeal.

“We will continue to fight for Dustin McCowan as long as we can,” said Barnes, who was shocked by the jury’s decision.

Vouga said, “I’m not sure how many grounds there are for correction of errors, but they’re numerous.”

The defense attorneys tried to get the trial moved out of county or get a jury from outside Porter County due to publicity.

“The length of deliberation showed they thought about this. We knew we had an uphill battle with a Porter County jury,” Vouga said.

Barnes said, “We’re obviously very disappointed with the verdict. We don’t think the prosecution was able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The prosecution built its case on circumstantial evidence, Barnes said in his closing arguments Tuesday.

“They don’t know where Amanda was killed,” he told the jury.

Although the prosecution showed Bach was killed with a .38 caliber bullet, they never found the gun.

McCowan’s father had a .38 Smith and Wesson he kept under the couch, and it turned up missing sometime between the Monday before the shooting and Sept. 19, 2011.

Barnes said the investigators and prosecution wouldn’t have known about the missing gun if Elliot McCowan hadn’t told them about it, and the prosecution never investigated the 14 people who had access to it.

Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek, in her closing arguments to the jury, said McCowan’s father and stepmother told police about the missing gun only while they were in the Porter County Sheriff’s Department being questioned.

Both sides agreed that McCowan was the last to see Bach, who visited his home.

McCowan told police she was there from 11 p.m. Sept. 15 to 1:30 a.m. Sept. 16, and a neighbor, Linda Phillips, said she heard voices outside her window for about 20 minutes after 1 a.m.

She said she heard a gentle male voice repeating, “Amanda, get up,” and a female stating, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

When Bach’s father knocked on doors for information, Phillips asked if her name was “Amanda,” and the father went white, Polarek said.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said, “You can’t hallucinate the name of a girl in your head.”

Cell phone records became a point of contention.

The prosecution said records showed McCowan to the north, in Wheeler, where police found Bach’s abandoned car early Sept. 16, while the defense’s expert said phone plots on a map triangulated on the McCowan household.

The defense also argued through the trial that the prosecution lacked any DNA, fingerprint or hair evidence that directly connected McCowan to Bach’s body.

Frost said that even when scientists tested the DNA off McCowan’s shirt and cellphone, they could only state “he is a potential major contributor.”

“Real life is not like a ‘C.S.I.’ program,” Frost said. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Another continuing defense point was that the prosecution did not collect DNA or fingerprints from other possible suspects, even to exclude possible suspects.

Polarek said McCowan was the only likely suspect, but the defense in the first week of the trial tried to cast doubt on the Wheeler man who found Bach’s body off the Canadian National tracks, 300 feet from McCowan’s home.

“The case for Nick Prochno murdering Amanda Bach is stronger than the one for Dustin McCowan,” Barnes said in his closing arguments.

Barnes referred to witnesses — including McCowan’s mother, Jamie Tome — who saw an SUV with round lights similar to Prochno’s Nissan Xterra in various places, including near the tracks where Bachs’ body was found.

He also said Prochno led police away from a vacant house and to the body where no one else was looking, and it took 10 minutes.

However, Frost said the prosecution could accuse Prochno — whose fiancée suggested he help out — without evidence, and it was “character assassination, innuendo and, frankly, bullcrap.”
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The prosecution checked his alibi, the police were done searching and officers were walking along the tracks with him and suggested he check the path that led to Bach, Frost said.

Dustin McCowan is escorted out of the Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso after a jury found him guilty in the death of his 19 year-old ex-girlfriend Amanda Bach late Tuesday Feb. 27, 2013.
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Normal Re: Death of Portage 19-yr-old Amanda Bach/Ex BF Charged with Her Murder /Bail Hearing for Man Accused of Amanda's Murder, Bail Denied/Trial to start Feb 4th/ McCowan found guilty/Sentenced to 60 years!

Post by Wrapitup on Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:01 am

:cheering: :cheering: :cheering:

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Normal Dustin McCowan Convicted Of Killing Ex-Girlfriend Amanda Bach

Post by raine1953 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:36 am

VALPARAISO, Ind. (CBS) – 19-year-old Amanda Bach was shot and killed two years ago. Now a jury convicted her ex-boyfriend Dustin McCowan of murder.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey talked to Bach’s family about what it took to catch the killer.

Sometimes hugs are the only way to say thank you and today Amanda Bach’s parents said “thank you” to those who, after months of agony, helped convict their daughter’s killer.

“Amanda needed some justice and this really isn’t justice for her but it’s a small little piece of satisfaction I guess,” said Bill Bach, Amanda’s father.

20-year-old Dustin McCowan was found guilty Tuesday of murdering Bach in 2011.

Investigators say after a short relationship, McCowan became jealous. He shot Bach once in the throat, then dumped her body on traintracks just 300 yards from his house.

There was no DNA and police never recovered the gun, but instead relied on cell phone pings and text messages as evidence.

“This was a largely circumstantial case which I like to analyze it as each piece of evidence is a small arrow that pointed at the guilt of Dustin McCowan,” said Matt Frost, Porter County Chief Prosecutor.

And with the trial now behind them, Amanda’s family and police say goodbye. A bittersweet ending to a story that should never have happened.

Dustin McCowan’s father is a Crown Point police officer. Investigators say they are looking into whether or not he helped his son cover up Amanda’s murder. So far, charges have not been filed.

Dustin McCowan will be sentenced in March.
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Normal Re: Death of Portage 19-yr-old Amanda Bach/Ex BF Charged with Her Murder /Bail Hearing for Man Accused of Amanda's Murder, Bail Denied/Trial to start Feb 4th/ McCowan found guilty/Sentenced to 60 years!

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