Investigator: All evidence led to McCowan
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 14, 2013 2:13PM
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:18PM
VALPARAISO — For the man leading the investigation into the September 2011 murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach, all possible suspects except one were eliminated.
Capt. Jeff Biggs, detective commander with the Porter County Sheriff’s Office, said his officers double-check all alibis for suspects, which is why they didn’t need to take DNA or other evidence to exclude suspects.
“Did evidence point to anybody other than Dustin McCowan in this case?” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said during questioning.
“No, it did not,” Biggs said.
Biggs admitted Thursday that no DNA or other evidence directly linked McCowan, now 20, to the murder of his former girlfriend.
However, evidence leading to charges included his being the last to see her when she visited his home Sept. 15 and allegedly left early Sept. 16.
Biggs listed a few clues before being stopped: the seat in Bach’s abandoned car pushed back to accommodate someone McCowan’s height; Michael Steege identifying McCowan as the man he saw walking south on County Road 650W from Wheeler; the proximity of Bach’s body to the McCowan home; and lies.
Defense attorney John Vouga objected to Biggs mentioning cellphone evidence that hadn’t been introduced.
Biggs said when McCowan texted friends about activities, his cellphone was identified as being where Bach’s body was discovered or car was found.
The sheriff’s department interviewed four convicted sex offenders in the area but didn’t pursue them as suspects after they gave alibis.
“She was never sexually assaulted,” Biggs said.
For Nicholas Prochno, who found Bach’s body, his alibi was verified when his fiancee said he was home all night.
Vouga challenged that assertion, saying the fiancee claimed to be a heavy sleeper and wouldn’t have known if he left.
The defense tried to implicate Prochno as a suspect when he testified Feb. 6. On Thursday, Vouga also asked about other possible suspects, including a truck driver who stayed in a motel on U.S. 20 that looked out at the restaurant where Bach worked.
Biggs said all alibis were verified.
McCowan’s father, Joseph Elliot McCowan, testified Thursday morning.
Records showed the father answered calls all through his shift as a Crown Point patrolman from 10:43 p.m. Sept. 15 to 6:45 a.m. Sept. 16.
He said he told police about his missing .38 Smith and Wesson Airlite without their asking and had discovered it missing the day his son was arrested.
The elder McCowan said he kept the gun under the sofa for protection because he is a police officer and last saw it Sept. 12.