Details of Bach murder investigation emerge
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent September 20, 2011 12:10PM
Dustin McCowan / photo from Porter County Sheriff's office
Updated: November 10, 2011 2:24PM
The night 19-year-old Amanda A. Bach was killed by a gunshot wound to her neck the suspect’s neighbor heard voices outside her bedroom window.
The neighbor told police that between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., she heard a commotion through the slightly open window.
A male voice said, “Amanda, come on, get up, Amanda, get up,” and it was repeatedly about five times.
The neighbor “then heard what she thought was a female voice say, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ ” according to the probable cause affidavit in court documents.
The court system released the affidavit, which contains details of the police investigation, Tuesday morning after suspect Dustin E. McCowan, 18, had his initial hearing for felony murder charges in Porter County Circuit Court.
The neighbor first told the victim’s father, William Bach, and then told police that when she looked out her windows, she saw no one.
Her bedroom window faces the McCowan home.
McCowan had told police that Amanda Bach had been at his house from 11 p.m. Thursday to 1:30 a.m. Friday, playing video games and watching a movie.
Both parents were working nights, so he was alone.
Questioned by phone while he was visiting in downstate Bloomington, McCowan told police he knew nothing about the noises the neighbor heard.
He told police during multiple interviews — including one Friday morning before he left to visit friends in Bloomington — that he asked Amanda to text him when she got home and that he had no idea her car was left at Dean’s General Store at Indiana 130 and County Road 625W, a few blocks from his home.
McCowan said he called her several times, but his cell phone records showed two calls made at 4:36 a.m. and one text sent at 1:21 a.m.
Bach’s 2006 Pontiac was found about 3:25 a.m. with the driver’s door open, the hazard lights flashing and the left front tire flat.
A man who delivered newspapers to the store said the car wasn’t there when he arrived at 2:15 a.m., almost an hour after McCowan said Bach had left his home.
Officers found her purse and apparently all its contents inside the car and called her father after finding her identification and seeing the car was registered to him.
William Bach noticed the car seat was pulled further back than normal, as if someone larger was driving the vehicle.
His daughter was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed about 105 pounds.
McCowan is 6 feet 2 inches and weighs about 175 pounds.
The father also noted that it wasn’t like his daughter not to let him know where she was and not to call if there was car trouble.
On Friday night, police found that a Phillips head screw in the tire apparently caused the flat, but it had “no tool markings to indicate use.”
Bach’s body was found near the Canadian National tracks on Saturday afternoon, about 300 yards from McCowan’s home.
A friend of McCowan’s told police she texted him about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to ask if she could visit, but he told her he wasn’t home.
Another friend said McCowan texted her at 1:30 a.m. to ask if he could come over after he did some laundry, but she later texted him to say no.
On Friday morning before leaving for Bloomington, McCowan stopped by Wheeler Middle School with another person and asked to talk with a guidance counselor, asking for help with Bach being missing and he being the last one to see her.
Trial date could change
At McCowan’s initial hearing Tuesday, Porter County Superior Court Judge Mary Harper set his trial for the week of Jan. 30.
However, that may change because McCowan’s family has been talking to attorney Robert Harper, the judge’s ex-husband.
Robert Harper hasn’t officially registered his appearance with the court, but his law partner Larry Rogers said, “Bob’s been involved since Saturday, meeting with the family, providing legal advice.”
Judge Harper usually recuses herself from cases he represents, and another judge can set a different trial schedule.
At a news conference after the initial hearing, chief deputy prosecutor Matthew Frost declined to comment on whether law enforcement is considering other suspects.
Porter County Sheriff David Lain said Tuesday his department isn’t releasing any information about the weapon allegedly used in the death.
However, he did squelch rumors that the weapon was the duty gun of McCowan’s father, Crown Point police officer Joseph E. McCowan.
“We’re confirming that it was not that, but that’s as far as we can take it right now,” Lain said.