Amanda Bach died of a single gunshot wound through the throat.
The bullet—fired from the front—severed Bach’s C4 vertebra and death was
Those are the findings of a forensic autopsy conducted late on Monday in
Mishawaka, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris told the Chesterton Tribune
Harris declined to comment any further on the results of the autopsy,
Meanwhile, also late on Monday, Dustin McCowan, 18, of 338N 625W in Union
Township, was formally charged with Bach’s murder.
Murder is a Class A felony punishable by a term of 20 to 50 years.
Discovery of Car
In a probable cause affidavit filed in support of that murder charge, Capt.
Larry Sheets has detailed the case against McCowan, beginning with the
discovery of Bach’s car at 3:23 a.m. Friday in the parking lot of Dean’s
General Store at 626 Ind. 130 in Union Township, approximately two miles
from the site where Bach’s body was found and roughly 300 yards from
The discovery of the 2006 Pontiac was made by the owner of Dean’s, it was
parked on the east side of the store and facing southwest, its four-way
hazard lights were on, its driver’s side door was open, and its left front
tire was flat, Sheets stated. Inside was Bach’s purse “with what appeared to
be all its contents” with the exception of her cell phone.
Later on Friday, at 5:30 p.m., a Times motor route driver advised
police that the parking lot of Dean’s General Store was empty at 2:15 a.m.,
only 68 minutes before the Pontiac was discovered there.
The officer dispatched to Dean’s General Store promptly contacted Bach’s
father, William Bach, the Pontiac’s registered owner, and he arrived on
scene, Sheets stated. At around 10 p.m. Thursday, Bach advised, his daughter
had told him that she planned to “hang out at the Stardust with her cousin”
but that her curfew was 1 a.m. and she hadn’t returned home.
William Bach offered the responding officer two other pieces of information.
First, he “advised that the driver’s seat (of the Pontiac) was further back
than normal, indicating that a ‘guy or larger person’ may have been driving
the vehicle,” Sheets stated.
Second, William Bach “thought that she could have been with her friend,
Dustin McCowan, earlier,” Sheets stated.
At that point the responding officer contacted McCowan, who told him that
Amanda Bach had been at his home from 11 p.m. to around 1:30 a.m.
“Dustin advised that he repeatedly told Amanda to text him when she got
home,” Sheets stated. “Dustin advised that he never received that text.
Dustin told (the responding officer) that he tried calling Amanda several
times since she left his house.”
McCowan added that Amanda Bach left his house alone, that he was unaware of
her Pontiac’s having been stranded at Dean’s General Store, and that he had
“contacted several people, including Amanda’s cousin, and no one was able to
provide Amanda’s location.”
Sheets did note in his affidavit, with respect to the position of the
Pontiac’s driver’s seat, that Amanda Bach was 5’ 2’’ in height and McCowan
6’ 2’’ in height.
Also at 3 p.m. Friday, a neighbor of the McCowans’—whose bedroom faces the
McCowan residence—advised that sometime between 1 and 2 a.m. Friday “she
awoke to voices outside her residence,” heard through a bedroom window
opened approximately eight inches.
She “heard what she thought was a male voice say ‘Amanda, get up, come on,
get up, Amanda, get up,’” Sheets stated. (The neighbor) “indicated that she
heard this approximately five times.”
The neighbor “then heard what she thought was a female voice say ‘I can’t
believe this is happening,’” Sheets stated. The neighbor “looked out of
several of her windows and saw no people.”
McCowan’s cell phone records indicate that he placed two calls to Amanda
Bach’s cell at approximately 4:36 a.m. Friday, Sheets stated.
Investigators have not yet been able to find Bach’s cell phone and efforts
by AT&T to do so were unsuccessful because her cell was “either turned off
or out of power.”
But Bach’s cell records indicate that at 12:14 a.m. Friday she appears to
have sent “one unknown type media message” to an unknown recipient and that
at 1:21 a.m. she received a text from McCowan’s cell.
“There were no further texts or received phone calls after that specific
text,” Sheets stated. “All incoming calls appear to have gone to voice
At 3 p.m. Friday a detective interviewed McCowan’s father, Joseph McCowan,
an officer with the Crown Point Police Department. Joseph McCowan advised
that he had been working the midnight shift early Friday morning, as had his
wife, and that his son “was alone at home.”
Joseph McCowan also informed the detective that his son was currently in
Bloomington and agreed to call him.
In that phone interview, Dustin McCowan repeated what he had first told the
responding officer, that Amanda Bach had been visiting from around 11 p.m.
Thursday to 1:30 a.m. Friday and added that they had “played PS3 and watched
a movie,” Sheets stated.
Dustin McCowan also said that “he didn’t know anything about” the “commotion
in the yard” described by his neighbor, Sheets stated.
When asked whether he had been drinking late Thursday or early Friday,
Dustin McCowan advised “that he did not drink because he had an upset
Later on Friday, at 8:30 p.m., the detective called Joseph McCowan and asked
permission to “come and look around” his property. Joseph McCowan was not at
home at the time and promised to call the detective when he returned home at
9:30 p.m. He subsequently did so but “advised that he would not allow
officers to look around his property at this time,” Sheets stated.
The Flat Tire
Late on Friday, at 11:19 p.m., a PCSP officer determined that the Pontiac’s
flat left front tire had a Phillip’s head screw in it, Sheets stated. The
screw was silver with a rounded head and appeared “to have no tool markings
to indicate use.”
Discovery of the
At 3:55 p.m. Saturday, two Valparaiso Police Department detectives found
Amanda Bach’s body near the Canadian National railroad right-of-way, after a
resident of the area advised that in the past his wife “has seen teenage
The body was located “on the south side of a four-by-four wire fence in a
tree line, south of the railroad tracks,” 294 yards from the McCowan
residence, Sheets stated.
A pair of black flip-flops, later identified as belonging to Amanda Bach,
was also found on the south side of the railroad tracks between the McCowan
residence and the CN right-of-way.
At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a juvenile girl—listed as “A.B.” in Sheets’
affidavit—advised an investigator that she is a friend of Dustin McCowan’s
and had gone to visit him at his residence at 4 a.m. Friday.
At 7 a.m. Friday, A.B. was still there when Dustin McCowan’s father arrived
home from work in his squad car.
“Dustin got in the car with his father and the two headed north,” Sheets
stated. “Heading north on C.R. 625W leads one to both the location where the
female body was found as well as Dean’s General Store.”
WHS Guidance Counselor
On Sunday, an investigator interviewed a guidance counselor at Wheeler
Middle School, who advised that, at 7:50 a.m. Friday, Dustin McCowan arrived
at WMS “wanting to talk,” Sheets stated.
The counselor’s impression of McCowan’s demeanor: “he seemed concerned but
did not seem himself and wanted to know what he should do regarding the fact
that Amanda Bach was missing and he was the last one to see her,” Sheets
McCowan then arranged with the counselor to “keep him posted”—by texts—“as
to what was going on.”
A day later, at 3:23 p.m. Saturday, McCowan texted the counselor this
message, Sheets stated: “Like is the search started and stuff.”
In the ensuing text conversation, the counselor learned that McCowan was in
Bloomington and texted him this message: “You on your way back?”
McCowan’s reply: “my dad said that there is a 10-year-old boy missing that
they think is connected.”
The counselor’s reply: “Wow, that’s the first I heard of that.”
“The final text messages between (the counselor) and McCowan involved
McCowan asking (the counselor) where people were searching for Amanda at,”
Bloomington Car-Trip Driver
Also on Sunday, an investigator interviewed the driver who took McCowan and
two others to Bloomington on Friday.
The driver advised that, around 1:30 a.m. Friday, McCowan began texting her,
indicating that he “wanted to spend the night at her house” and saying that
“he would be over as soon as he finished doing his laundry,” Sheets stated.
“At some point later, before McCowan arrived at (her) house, she texted him
not to bother coming because now her father was awake,” Sheets stated.
Interview with a
Friend of McCowan’s
On Monday another friend of McCowan’s advised that she had had text contact
with McCowan on Thursday evening.
“At approximately 11:30 p.m. that evening, she had planned on going to his
house,” Sheets stated. “However, Dustin told her that he wasn’t home at that
time. This was during the time Dustin admitted to (the initial responding
officer) that Amanda Bach was at his house from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.”
Sheets does not say in his affidavit whether investigators have recovered a
firearm suspected to be connected with Amanda Bach’s death.
Detectives did execute a search warrant at the McCowan residence late
Saturday night into early Sunday morning, Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the PCSP
told the Chesterton Tribune today.
“Detectives are still pursuing avenues of investigation,” LaFlower added.
Anyone who may have pertinent information is urged to call the PCSP
Detective Bureau at (219) 477-3140 or the WeTip hotline at (800) 782-7463.
McCowan was scheduled to have an initial hearing late this morning—by video
teleconference—before Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper.