Hebron wonders: Whose body is it, and who would dump it there?
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent April 17, 2013 3:32PM
Jeff Ashcroft pauses while having lunch at the Country Kitchen in Hebron Wednesay April 17, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Anyone with information or who may have seen any suspicious activity recently around County Roads 500W and 1000S in Boone Township is asked to call Porter County Sheriff’s Department Cmdr. Jeff Biggs at 477-3141.
Anonymous tips can be called into WeTip at 1 (800) 782-7643. WeTip offers up to a $1,000 reward for information aiding in the arrest and conviction of any suspects involved.
Updated: May 19, 2013 7:39AM
HEBRON — Perhaps Jen Ripple, who’s lived in Hebron the past four or five years, put it best when she learned a partially decomposed body had been discovered southeast of town, in rural Boone Township.
“We would know if it was someone from Hebron,” she said Wednesday, over lunch at the Country Kitchen on Main Street. “We would know if someone was missing.”
In this south Porter County town of about 3,750 people, crime is rare and finding the body of an apparent crime victim is rarer still. Residents recalled the shooting death of a Gary man mowing a lawn in the Park Place subdivision in September 2011, but came up with little else.
The body of the adult male was discovered Monday evening in a ditch at the junction of County Roads 500W and 1000S. By Tuesday, after an autopsy, officials with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department and the Coroner’s Office were calling the case a homicide, and said the victim, who was white or Hispanic, died of an apparent gunshot wound.
Two things are next in the investigation. One is combing the spot where the body was found for any clues to the crime, something that’s been put off because of the heavy rains, said Sgt. Larry LaFlower, public information officer with the sheriff’s department.
The other is trying to identify who the person was.
“They will try to utilize any kind of fingerprints they could get and dental records to identify this guy,” LaFlower said, adding the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a database of fingerprints of people who have arrest records or have had background checks.
“John Doe is John Doe until something comes back,” he said.
Ripple’s friend, Jeff Ashcraft, heard about the body at the Heritage Inn Tuesday night. He said state police coming from the Lowell post often take 1000S, which leads to Interstate 65, and would have driven by the site where the body was found.
“It’s very odd, though,” he said. “That’s one of those stories where they’ve got to find where the man came from — Chicago?”
This wouldn’t be the first time ne’er-do-wells from Chicago used Northwest Indiana to try to hide their misdeeds. In 1986, at the Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area in Newton County near the Illinois border, a laborer discovered the bodies of Chicago natives Tony and Michael Spilotro, brothers who were beaten to death by mobsters for their own involvement in the Chicago Outfit in Las Vegas.
The discovery of the body this week has folks in Hebron wondering what happened.
“That’s crazy. That doesn’t happen in Hebron,” Ripple said.
Ashcraft, who’s lived in town for 12 years, speculated about what might have precipitated the crime.
“It’s kind of startling to hear about it, to be honest, but there are a lot of angry people trying to make a buck off someone. It’s always about money, money or anger, one of the two,” he said. “Somebody took the drive to drop him off in a cornfield or ditch and didn’t want to get found.”
Kimberly Suggs, a server at Country Kitchen, lived in Hebron for 20 years before moving to Cedar Lake six years ago. She didn’t like the fact that a crime victim had been found outside of town.
“That’s really bad,” she said. “Hopefully, they find out who did it. I don’t like that. Hebron’s a pretty good town.”