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Police questioning suspect in Austgen kidnapping and homicide

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Updated: May 28, 2013 7:52PM



A man is in custody for questioning in last month’s kidnapping and homicide of Griffith business owner Mary C. Austgen.

According to a release from Griffith police, they and the Alsip, Ill., police department served a search warrant at a residence in Alsip and a subject was taken into custody.

Alsip police said the warrant was executed at 5:37 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 12200 block of Lawndale Avenue.

No further information was available and no criminal charges have been filed.

Austgen, 76, of St. John, was found dead of a gunshot wound in the early morning hours of March 29 in the parking garage at the Majestic Star Casino at Buffington Harbor in Gary. She had been reported missing March 28.

Earlier this week, a press conference announcing a $10,000 reward took place outside the Griffith Police Department. The reward was offered by the ATF and private parties.

A man who lives in the 12200 block of South Lawndale Avenue knew something was up when he looked outside and saw “at least 30 officers with their rifles drawn, aiming that way,” he said, nodding toward the house with green siding across the street.

Late Tuesday afternoon, police took the unnamed resident in for questioning from the quiet Alsip street.

Police looked “ready for a gunfight,” Mike Beer said. Beer lives on the same block, but did not know the man.

“They’re saying this guy might have murdered this lady, so you’ve got to be cautious, I guess,” he said. “I asked myself, ‘Is that for real? Am I seeing what I’m seeing right now’?”

Police broke down the front door of the house, Beer said.

“I’d see him in the morning every now and then. I’d wave to him and he’d wave back,” Beer said.

Another neighbor told Beer the man “looked calm” when taken away by police.

Two police investigators with the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force spent some time in the backyard of the residence Wednesday after they were in the house for about 10 minutes. They declined comment.

-- Southtown Star reporter Steve Metsch contributed to this report.



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