Chesterton Tribune


The cold comfort of justice: The Bach family speaks at press conference today

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“If there were any truths spoken by defense attorney Nick Barnes and defense attorney John Vouga, it’s that it would take a sociopath to commit this crime. That would be Dustin McCowan.”

With that, Amanda Bach’s mother, Sandra Bach, threw back into Barnes’ face the argument which Barnes made in his closing statement on Tuesday, at a press conference this morning at the Porter County Sheriff’s Department.

“Amanda did not deserve to die at the hands of a sick jealous criminal,” Sandra Bach said.

The guilty verdict—reached late Tuesday night—she called a “bittersweet victory,” and while conceding that something like “justice was served,” Sandra Bach also took note of the “families destroyed by the acts of Dustin McCowan.”

Amanda’s father, William Bach, thinks differently about the verdict. “This really isn’t justice for us,” he said. “It’s a small piece of satisfaction, knowing this guy won’t be out murdering someone else.”

McCowan’s female friends, Sandra Bach added, “owe their lives to Amanda, because if it hadn’t been her it would have been one of them or someone else.”

“Our lives have been totally changed,” Sandra Bach said. “This is a new life I’m living, one without Amanda.”

William Bach expressed his family’s gratitude to many:

To the jury: “We are grateful to the jurors for recognizing a guilty man.”

To the public: “All the searchers, people we did not know, family and friends who stood by us through the end, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It made us stronger.”

To Det. Com. Jeff Biggs, who headed the investigation: “A special thank you. In keeping us up to speed and informed, you got us to where we are right now.”

“I don’t really know where I am today,” William Bach said. “It hasn’t really sunk in it. We’ve been focused on the outcome. It hasn’t hit yet.”

Ongoing Investigation

Meanwhile, Biggs said that the investigation “is not going to end,” that “there’s still more information we’re going to focus on,” and that “information is still coming in, within the last six months.”

The apparent impetus of the investigation now, Biggs said: “Whether or not Elliott McCowan did in fact aid in getting rid of evidence in this case,” as Charles Wade II—Dustin McCowan’s fellow inmate at the Porter County Jail—testified during the trial. Specifically, Wade stated that Dustin McCowan told him that his father had found Amanda Bach’s phone at a location near their home, where Dustin McCowan had hidden it on the night in question.

Biggs, however, declined to say any more about the status or scope of that investigation into Elliott McCowan.

Biggs also expressed his gratitude: to the Lake County Sheriff’s Police, the Indiana State Police, the Valparaiso Police Department, and the FBI for their assistance; and to the Bach’s. “I got to know them,” he said. “This was tough. As much as the McCowan family wanted the focus to be on them, the focus was always on Amanda Bach. Our focus was to bring justice to Amanda Bach.”

Biggs did respond to a question from the press about persons whose DNA or fingerprints were not collected. “With all the people we interviewed, you have to be smart and be realistic,” he said. “We didn’t collect fingerprints and DNA because we didn’t need to. Because their alibis check out. The only person whose alibi didn’t check out was Dustin McCowan. If you can’t get a confession, the next best thing is a known lie.”

The Prosecution

When asked what he thought the key piece of evidence against McCowan was, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost called the question “unanswerable.”

“This was largely a circumstantial case,” Frost said. “Each piece of evidence was a small arrow pointing at Dustin McCowan. And there were hundreds and hundreds of arrows. I don’t think there was one piece of evidence, a tipping point. Each day we went in with the idea of making the brick wall around him higher.”

Frost did say that the “only reasonable inference” from Linda Phillips’ testimony about the female voice early in the morning of Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, “is that it was the voice of Amanda Bach.”

Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel took a moment to thank his entire office, which worked hard to backstop Frost and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek. In particular he thanked deputy prosecuting attorneys Tammy Greg and Trista Hudson, who “literally pulled all-nighters” to prepare memoranda “to refute the spurious charges made by the defense.”

“I was heartened by the efforts of my staff,” Gensel said.

Sheriff Lain

Sheriff David Lain praised Biggs and his officers for their “dedication and consummate professionalism” but also the citizens “who provided tips” and who “had to the courage to testify, because it was the right thing to do, although some of them incredibly were labeled suspects by the defense.”

“This wasn’t about winning or losing,” Lain concluded his remarks. “This wasn’t a sporting event. This simply was justice.”



Posted 2/27/2013