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Bach friends remember victim as McCowan final arguments begin

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Updated: February 27, 2013 12:41AM



VALPARAISO — When searchers fanned out across Union Township on Sept. 17, 2011, to search for Amanda Bach, Nancy Steele, a friend of the Bach family, was there for them.

On Tuesday morning, as the sleet began to fall outside the Porter County Courthouse, Steele and her daughter, Alexis Petrak, who grew up with Bach, were the first among a growing crowd who gathered to wait for a jury to decide whether Bach’s former boyfriend, Dustin McCowan, killed her.

They wore pink and carried bright pink posters, covered in plastic against the weather, that called for justice for Bach. Passersby wished them well. Drivers periodically honked their support.

“We will be here until the verdict is done,” Steele, of Portage, said.

Steele and Petrak, also of Portage, said the Bach family would do the same for them, and in fact said the Bachs were like family to them.

McCowan, now 20, is charged with murdering Bach, who was 19 when she died of a gunshot wound to the neck. McCowan lived in Wheeler at the time, not far from where searchers found her body.

Steele has sat through some of the testimony in McCowan’s trial, which was to wrap up with closing arguments Tuesday before going to the jury later today, and has continued to support Bach’s parents, William and Sandra Bach.

“It’s just sad. As crushing as it is to me, knowing her family and her, I couldn’t even imagine what they’re feeling,” Steele said. “They’re my friends. They’re like family to me. We’re here if he’s guilty, we’re here if he’s not. We’re doing it for them. I know they’d do it for us in a heartbeat.”

Petrak said Bach meant a lot to her and her family, and she and Bach played together as children. She wanted the trial to be over and for Bach’s family to know they had support. “It’s crazy what happened to her,” she said.

Bach’s supporters admitted they had a long, cold day ahead. Steele kept her car running so they could climb in if they needed to warm up. They joked that Bach could have provided them with better weather.

But they also admitted that, no matter what the end of the day brought, the verdict can’t change what happened to Bach, whose smiling face graced the posters handed out when she disappeared and the buttons mourners wore at her funeral.

“It’s bittersweet,” Steele said. “No one’s winning here. Whether he’s guilty or not, we’re never getting her back.”



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