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Merrillville man, 20, charged in Lucky Mart killing

Merrillville Police Detective Joe Cooper (left) Det. Cmdr. Jim Lilley speak during press conference Merrillville Police Department Merrillville Ind. Wednesday

Merrillville Police Detective Joe Cooper (left) and Det. Cmdr. Jim Lilley speak during a press conference at the Merrillville Police Department in Merrillville, Ind. Wednesday March 7, 2012. Police announced the arrest of and charges against Jeremy K. Blue for the murder and robbery of convenience store clerk Judi Simpson-Beaver at the Lucky Food Store in Merrillville Sunday. Police are also looking for two other persons of interest. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 10, 2012 11:20AM



MERRILLVILLE — A police search near a neighborhood where a convenience store clerk was shot and killed Sunday led police to her killer, police said Wednesday.

Jeremy K. Blue, 20, of the 5600 block of Johnson Street, has been charged with the murder of Judi Simpson-Beaver, 48, at the Lucky Food Mart at 5695 Cleveland St.

Police said Blue surrendered peacefully when a Northwest Indiana SWAT team arrested him about 1 p.m. Tuesday at his residence.

At a press conference Wednesday, Detective Joseph Cooper said the handgun used in the killing has not been recovered.

Cooper said police were still looking for two other suspects in the Sunday afternoon shooting and robbery. He said witnesses and a store surveillance tape identify Blue as the shooter.

“This was a heinous crime; she did everything he demanded,” Detective Cmdr. James Lilley said.

Court documents state a surveillance video showed a male entering the store wearing a white hockey-style mask and a dark sweatshirt with “Royal Estoc Empire” across the back.

He pointed a black handgun at Simpson-Beaver, who was behind the counter, and she began removing money from the cash register. The man removed both cash drawers and moved toward the exit.

He suddenly changed his direction, went to the counter and fired a single shot hitting Simpson-Beaver in her upper body. He put the register drawers down, and went behind the counter where he pursued the cashier and fired another round at Simpson-Beaver’s head, causing her to collapse. The man picked up the cash drawers and fled on foot.

Two witnesses saw the man remove his mask and one recognized him and later identified him as Blue from a photograph.

On Monday, police received two phone calls from two different women who provided Blue’s name as the man responsible for the robbery and killing.

They said they recognized the sweatshirt and his walking style. Both women told police that Blue recently began driving an older model Oldsmobile with a maroon colored hood and an Indiana temporary plate.

Police Chief Joseph Petruch said officers began checking the nearby Meadowdale neighborhood for the car and Patrolman Joshua Miskus located it at Blue’s home, a few blocks east of Lucky Mart.

“Without the lead, I doubt it would be solved,” said Petruch.

The Oldsmobile was registered to Nanneetta Blue, Jeremy’s mother. She declined comment Wednesday but Blue’s older sister, Jessica Blue, said her brother was with her all day Sunday. “The car they have is not his car,” she said. “When they came to the house, he was shocked.”

Meanwhile, the family of Simpson-Beaver described her as a hard-working mom and grandmother who had moved to Merrillville in the past year from Texas.

“She was a mom who raised two kids with strong American values focused around service, sacrifice, and hard work. Even as a single mother of two she managed to go to college and become a paralegal to help defend the people around her,” said her son, Zach Beaver.

Her other son, a soldier, is coming home from Afghanistan for her funeral in Texas.

“The most prized possession in my mom’s life was her grandson, my son. Because of these people, she will not be there to see his first steps,” Beaver said.

Reach reporter Carole Carlson at 648-3154.



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