Bach case led to social media frenzy
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 February 27, 2013 4:12PM
From blotter to Facebook
Indiana State Police Lt. Chuck Cohen, a cyber crime expert based in Bloomington, will share his knowledge about social media networking at a national training event focused on online social media in criminal investigations March 8 in Williamsburg, Va.
Updated: April 1, 2013 7:35AM
From the onset, the Amanda Bach murder case set social media sites abuzz.
Volunteers, fueled by Facebook and other posts about the missing Portage teen, came to Wheeler on Sept. 17, 2011, to aid police in their search.
Once Bach’s body was found and the Porter County prosecutor’s office charged her former boyfriend, Dustin McCowan, with her murder, social media sites exploded.
Six Facebook pages and a couple Twitter accounts blossomed in the 19-year-old Bach’s memory.
One Facebook page, Justice for Amanda Bach, has more than 17,000 “likes.”
A couple pages sprang up defending McCowan, as well.
A jury found McCowan, 20, guilty of Bach’s murder late Tuesday. He faces a March 28 sentencing.
The popularity of the sites prompted McCowan’s attorney to seek a change of venue in June after he told a judge McCowan couldn’t get a fair trial in Porter County because Bach’s Facebook page had 16,000 “likes.” Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa denied the request.
Porter County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Larry LaFlower said police quickly recognized the impact of social media.
“It blew up, it was broadcast at all those sites asking for people to start looking and throughout the search, it kept updating,” he said Wednesday following a news conference held to discuss Tuesday’s guilty verdict.
While helpful, LaFlower said the exposure had some flaws. He said the location where Bach’s body was found was initially incorrect and social media sites fed the inaccurate information.
“Social media, when it’s used properly, is a benefit,” said LaFlower. “When you have a gossip mill, it’s a hindrance.”
McCowan’s father, Elliott McCowan, a Crown Point police officer, used his Facebook page to share his own sentiment. The page is adorned with a photo depicting a crucified Christ.
Follow Carole on Twitter at ccwriterPT.