Chesterton Tribune

Police still seeking hit-and-run driver

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The Porter County Sheriff’s Police has devoted significant resources to solving the June 11 hit-and-run on C.R. 200W in Liberty Township but it’s proved a tough nut to crack.

Det. Capt. Larry Sheets told the Chesterton Tribune that, to date, more than 100 investigative man-hours have been spent pursuing leads and that, in the initial stages, eight officers were tasked to the case: four detectives and the four-man Flex Team. Sixteen different persons, moreover, have been interviewed.

Meanwhile, the PCSP spokesman, Sgt. Larry LaFlower, has worked the media, releasing three separate statements in the days and weeks after the crash. LaFlower also did a sound bite for Indiana 105 Radio, which ran constantly on each of its three stations, and taped a bit as well for local-cable Channel 56 in Merrillville. In addition, a PowerPoint on the crash ran regularly at the PCSP tent during the Porter County Fair and Sheriff Dave Lain talked about the investigation on his Drive radio show.

So the word got out.

But the driver remains at large.

Part of the problem is simply a lack of information, Sheets said. “There are no witnesses to the crash. In the higher profile cases like this one, we usually have a witness or someone in the vehicle comes forward to provide information. The victim herself is unfortunately not able to provide any information on the car. The parts recovered at the scene are not specific enough to narrow our search. We can identify the make and model (Honda Civic) and a four-year window of the year of the vehicle (1992-95). But we are unable to specify the color of the vehicle, as there was no paint transfer on the victim’s clothing.”

Given the likelihood that the driver would want to have the car repaired as soon as possible, body shops in Porter, Lake, and LaPorte counties have been contacted, Sheets said. And on the night of the crash, a dispatch was sent to all adjacent jurisdictions and Sheets said that he’s been in contact with detectives from other jurisdictions too.

If, of course, the driver wasn’t a local, then all bets are off and the guy’s in the wind, Sheets noted. But the location of the crash, on C.R. 200W, would suggest that the driver is at least a county resident and maybe even a Dunelander. “It is possible the vehicle is ‘under wraps’ somewhere or hidden in a garage,” he said. “But given the time frame since the crash, it may have been repaired and/or gotten rid of by now.”

One thing which the PCSP has not done is run a BMV records check and there’s a reason for that, Sheets said. Again, the lack of information. “This was done approximately seven or eight years ago on a a similar case which only had a side mirror and turn-signal assembly. The vehicle was narrowed down to a three- or four-year time frame of a particular vehicle. The BMV search resulted in over 5,000 possible registered vehicles.”

The case, Sheets emphasized, is by no means dormant. The PCSP “just received two additional tips from WeTip and both of those are currently being followed up on,” he said. “I have also been contacted by a Chesterton detective with a possible suspect vehicle.”

Anyone at all with information about a possible suspect or suspect vehicle is urged to contact Sheets at 477-3142 or else call the WeTip hotline at (800) 782-7463. WeTip pays an award of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.



Posted 8/24/2012