Driver in police chase charged with killing wife
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent June 11, 2014 8:06PM
This the scene on the southbound exit ramp at 109th Avenue and Interstate 65 in Crown Point on Friday where a man shot himself after leading police on a chase through Starke, Porter and Lake counties. | Indiana State Police
Updated: July 13, 2014 5:20PM
KNOX — A Knox man who led police on high-speed chase Friday through two counties has been charged with beating his wife to death earlier that day, according to prosecutors.
Gary Chavez, 57, is charged with murder, kidnapping and carjacking in the crime spree. Chavez shot himself in the head as police closed in on him along Interstate 65 near Crown Point and remains hospitalized at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Chavez is accused of killing his estranged wife, Kimberly, 50, at his home before carjacking three vehicles during his attempt to flee, sheriff’s police reported. They said the woman’s body was found under a tarp on the north side of the home, 5110 E. 810 St., with multiple injuries to her head and neck, including a lacerated carotid artery and fractured skull.
Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff would not comment on a motive for the slaying, other than saying “we have some theories on the motive.”
Sheriff’s police said they responded to a call about a carjacking from Bailey’s Discount Store, 5900 S. Range Road, in North Judson, where a man matching Chavez’s description approached a man in the parking lot and stole his pickup truck at gunpoint, forcing the man to go with him as he drove off.
While driving, Chavez allegedly told the victim “I killed my wife and I’m on the run,” according to police. The carjacking victim told police that Chavez attempted to make several phone calls while driving, telling one person that “I beat Kim to death and I’m on the run,” police reported.
They said Chavez first drove to the English Lake area of Starke County near a river but told his victim there were too many people there and drove away — pulling the truck into a nearby driveway in the 2200 block of South County Road 650W, where he stole a Jeep Cherokee at gunpoint and fled, leaving the first carjacking victim at that location.
The Jeep then broke down about 20 miles away, a block away from the Hebron Police Department, where Chavez carjacked another pickup truck and was spotted by a Hebron patrol officer, who tried to stop Chavez and a chase ensued, sheriff’s police said.
More than five police vehicles from three departments eventually joined the pursuit through Porter County and into Lake County near Crown Point.
Police said Chavez attempted to enter Interstate 65 by going the wrong way on the southbound 109th Avenue exit ramp, after Crown Point police deployed stop-sticks and flattened two of the truck’s tires. When Chavez tried to make a U-turn to access I-65 southbound, the damaged truck became stuck, police said, and he shot himself as police ordered him out of the truck.