Pathologist says Bach died 24 to 48 hours before body was found
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 13, 2013 1:02PM
Kathy Bach of Cedar Lake holds a picture of her niece Amanda Bach as volunteers, family and law enforcement agencies search for the missing Portage teenager in the Wheeler, Ind. area Saturday September 17, 2011. Bach's broken down car was found in the parking lot of Dean's General Store at 3 a.m. Friday. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 1:24PM
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.