Left: O’Dell Corley: Investigators say that O’Dell Corley, 37, of Michigan
City, shot bank guard Keith Hill and tellers Kay Peckat and Chandler
Simpson. Peckat died at the scene.
Edward Johnson: Investigators say that Edward Johnson, 30, of Rochester,
Ind., entered the bank after Corley and that he removed the gun from bank
guard Keith Hill’s holster.
The photograph and the composite: Investigators say that Jeana Ramsey, 30
(left), of Rochester, Ind., is the woman pictured in the composite drawing
(right) released on the night of Aug. 27. That drawing is based on the
description of a witness who saw a woman in the vicinity of a burned-out car
which was found on Ardendale Road minutes after the robbery attempt and
which investigators now say was the getaway car. Less than 36 hours after
the robbery attempt, investigators say, someone called the Michigan City
Police Department and identified the woman in the composite as Ramsey.
By KEVIN NEVERS
Law-enforcement officials are citing interagency cooperation and
public-spiritedness for the arrest of four persons Tuesday in connection
with the fatal botched robbery Aug. 27 of the Pines branch of the First
State Bank of Porter.
The break in the case came less than 36 hours after two men entered the bank
around 11 a.m., shot three employees, one of them fatally, then fled without
a dime: a tip to the identity of a woman featured in a widely-distributed
composite drawing, based on the description of a witness who saw her in the
vicinity of a burned-out car found less than a mile from the bank on
Ardendale Road and only minutes after the robbery.
Being held on federal charges of aggravated robbery and murder are O’Dell
Corley, aka Nasih K. Raid, 37, of Michigan City; Edward Johnson, 30, of
Rochester, Ind.; and Andre “Pee Wee” McGregor, 28, of Michigan City. Being
held on a federal charge of aggravated robbery is Jeana Ramsey, 30, of
Rochester, whom officials identified as the woman in the composite.
At a press conference Tuesday night at the Michigan City Police
Department—where, in the hours after the robbery, investigators from the
FBI, the Indiana State Police, and the Porter County Sheriff’s Police
established their joint headquarters—U.S. Attorney Joe Van Bokkelen laid out
the allegations contained in the federal complaint filed against the four
Sometime on the morning of Aug. 27, he said, Ramsey and Johnson—who lived
together in Rochester—met Corley and McGregor in Michigan City, and together
they “obtained” a tan 1988 Dodge. McGregor then drove Corley and Johnson to
the bank, Van Bokkelen said, where Corley entered the bank and “immediately
shot” the guard, Keith Hill, 38, of Valparaiso, and then shot tellers Kay
Peckat, 51, of The Pines, and Chandler Simpson, 59, also of The Pines.
Peckat was pronounced dead at the scene. Hill and Simpson remain
Meanwhile, Van Bokkelen said, Johnson had entered the bank, saw Hill wounded
in front of the door, removed Hill’s gun from the holster, and “left it in
the bank.” Corley and Johnson then fled the scene in the Dodge driven by
McGregor, rendezvoused with Ramsey on Ardendale Road, set fire to the Dodge,
and left in a second vehicle driven by Ramsey.
On the night of Aug. 27, less than 12 hours after the robbery attempt,
investigators released to the media a composite drawing of a woman seen on
Ardendale Road prior to the getaway car’s being set aflame. On the morning
of Aug. 29, less than 36 hours after the robbery attempt, the MCPD received
a call from a tipster, Van Bokkelen said, who specifically identified the
woman in the composite as Ramsey and added one other piece of information:
Ramsey lives with a “large black man.” Johnson, as the tape shot by the
bank’s surveillance camera reveals clearly enough, is a heavy-set black man.
By the early afternoon of Aug. 29, Capt. Mike Jenkins of the PCSP told the
Chesterton Tribune, Ramsey and Johnson were under surveillance by
investigators and that surveillance continued until Tuesday morning, when
they were taken into custody a “short distance” from their home in
Corley and McGregor were taken into custody in Michigan City, Corley after a
traffic stop, McGregor at his residence.
All were apprehended without incident, although SWAT units from the FBI,
ISP, and PCSP had been placed on stand-by, Porter County Sheriff Dave
Reynolds said. Ramsey and Johnson had their initial appearance in federal
court Tuesday in Hammond. Corley and McGregor were scheduled to have their
initial appearance today.
Although the four suspects are currently facing federal charges, Van
Bokkelen told the Tribune that no final decision has yet been made on
whether to pursue those federal charges or else to try the suspects instead
on state charges. “Our next step is to talk with (Porter County Prosecuting
Attorney Jim Douglas) and see where we are,” he said.
“This case is the result of putting a lot of pieces together,” said Ted
Wasky, assistant special agent in charge of Indiana office of the FBI. “The
first piece was the burned car.
In fact, investigators are still putting pieces together, although officials
declined to say whether anyone else might be charged in connection with the
robbery attempt. “We will continue to aggressively investigate this matter,”
One of the matters still under investigation is the identity of the owner of
the Dodge getaway car, which Wasky said did not belong to any of the four
suspects but was never “to his knowledge” reported stolen.
Investigators did not say whether a gun was recovered from any of the four
but Wasky did say that search warrants have been executed. Nor did they say
whether any of the four has admitted involvement in the robbery attempt.
So far investigators are merely describing the four suspects as
“associates,” although they are trying to define that relationship and the
Michigan City-Rochester connection more clearly. Reynolds did say that
Corley was previously convicted on a drug-dealing charge and Johnson on a
robbery charge and that an additional charge may be filed against Johnson in
connection with the armed robbery July 27 of a Pizza Hut in Rochester.
Other questions whose answers, investigators said, are “pending”: Was the
robbery attempt drug-related? Why was the Pines branch of the First State
Bank of Porter targeted? Why was the getaway car torched? Most important,
why would Corley “immediately” shoot Hill and then the tellers—as
investigators say that he did—and was it part of the plan to enter the bank
Officials agree, however. It was “a very, very horrific crime,” as Van
Bokkelen called it.
“It’s probably the most brutal crime I’ve ever seen committed as a police
officer,” Lt. Tim Collins of the ISP said.
“It sent shock waves throughout our communities and banking institutions,”
Officials also agree that the rapidity with which the case was broken is
due, as Collins said, to the “collective efforts” and “hundreds if not
thousands of manhours” put in by investigators from a host of agencies: the
FBI, the ISP, the PCSP, the MCPD, the Rochester Police Department, the
LaPorte County Sheriff’s Police, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Police, and the
“It’s one example of what law enforcement can do when people work together,”
Officials were unanimous as well in praising the public for its help. “Good
public and police cooperation is what broke this crime,” Wasky said.