Chesterton Tribune



Former Tribune employee who found Nicole Gland testifies

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Zachary Muller, former Chesterton Tribune press operator, testified Wednesday that he knew something was wrong right away when he discovered a vehicle pushed up against a dumpster behind the Tribune offices.

Muller was the second witness the Prosecution called in Wednesday’s proceedings in Christopher Dillard’s murder trial. Dillard, 53, stands accused of murdering Gland as she left work at the Upper Deck Lounge, 139 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton, in the early hours of April 19, 2017.

Muller testified he saw a silver SUV pushed up against a dumpster immediately behind the Tribune offices as he arrived at work around 9 a.m. April 19 and prepared to enter through a rear basement door.

“It just looked strange,” Muller said. “It didn’t look like it was parked.” He said he initially thought someone had crashed their car into the dumpster and left it, then he assumed the driver had passed out once he saw the driver was still in the car. The driver, later identified as Gland, was slumped over the car’s center console and leaning to the right, according to Muller.

“When I saw her eyes were open, I knew something was extremely wrong, and I went into a sort of tunnel vision,” he said. “I didn’t see the massive amount of blood,” he added.

Muller said he observed blood on Gland’s face and the car’s steering wheel, but at first thought that was because she had crashed.

When his attempts to rouse Gland by smacking her driver’s side window and calling to her failed, Muller ran up the interior stairs at the Tribune office and said someone needed to call 911.

Chesterton Tribune employee Lora McMeans later testified it was her who made the two 911 calls--one from inside the office, then another from her cell phone at the scene, so she could give the dispatcher more information.

Muller said after McMeans dialed 911, he, McMeans, and fellow Tribune employees Adam Peffers and Katelin Holt returned to the vehicle to render any possible aid. This is when Muller said he opened the driver’s side door of Gland’s vehicle and shook her left shoulder in another attempt to rouse her.

When he touched Gland’s shoulder, it felt stiff, Muller said, at which time some members of the gallery sounded distraught or left the courtroom. “It didn’t feel alive. I don’t know how to describe it. It was a touch I’ll never forget,” he continued.

Muller said he next checked for a pulse on the left side of Gland’s neck, but backed away to wait for first responders when he couldn’t detect one.

The Prosecution called Chesterton Fire Chief John Jarka after Muller. Jarka testified that he was first on the scene because he was nearby in the Department’s brush truck after returning from a call. Jarka said he didn’t attempt to treat Gland, and instead deferred to the paramedic who arrived immediately behind him in the Department’s EMS rig.

Jarka said he observed “copious amounts of blood” and no signs of life when he looked in the vehicle. Jarka said his first thought on arrival was that the incident might be a suicide.

The jury later asked Jarka to clarify why he thought that, and he said it was based on his years of experience at prior scenes and the amount of blood. Muller also clarified where he usually parked and explained the layout of the parking area on Lois Lane behind the businesses along S. Calumet Road, in response to jury questions.



Posted 10/25/2019




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