When the Terre Haute Police Department received a call Saturday afternoon concerning “a dangerous opening in the ground,” responding officers got more than they had bargained for.
Upon arriving at the holes’s location on Terre Haute’s southside, officers used their flashlights to peer down into the opening and discovered human remains at the other end. The as-yet-unidentified corpse did not appear to have died recently, nor did it show any obvious signs of foul play. Police believe the hole where the man was found may be an old well, but they don’t have any idea how he ended up there.
Authorities are hoping to identify the deceased through an autopsy and help from the property’s current owner.
If you believe you have information pertaining to this case, please contact the Terre Haute Police Department at (812) 238-1661.
A Silver Alert has been issued for a 14-year-old Indiana girl last seen more than a month ago. Courtney Tout is described as a strawberry blonde with blue eyes and a nose piercing. She’s five feet, five inches tall and weighs about 115 pounds. Courtney was last seen in Richmond around 7pm on the evening of October 26th. Police believe she may be in danger and in need of assistance.
If you have any information that might lead to Courtney’s safe return, please contact Richmond PD at 765-983-7247, or just call 911.
In 1982, 19-year-old William Joseph “Billy” Lewis attended a funeral in Texas then left to return to his home in Peru, Indiana, hitchhiking his way across the US.
He was never seen alive again.
In the many years to come, both of his parents would die without ever knowing what had happened to their son. But thanks to advances in forensic science and a determined Jasper County coroner, Billy Lewis has finally come home.
In October 1983, a fox hunter stumbled upon human remains in a rural Jasper County field. Despite collecting clothing and other evidence from the scene, including a distinctive Zippo lighter engraved with the name “Arlene,” police were unable to match the John Doe with any missing person report. No one stepped forward to claim the body. Eventually, Officer Paul Ricker, who was the first officer on the scene when the unidentified remains were discovered, and other first responders crowdfunded a gravestone for “John Doe” at the Sayler Makeever Cemetery.
The first break in the case came in 1994 when, two days after murderer Larry Eyler died in prison, his attorney Kathleen Zellner announced that he had confessed to killing more than 20 men in the late 70’s and early 80’s, including “Jasper County John Doe.” According to the serial killer, he’d picked up the victim on November 20, 1982, as the young man was hitchhiking alone on US 41 near Vincennes. After he got the man selected at random into his vehicle, Eyler gave him beer and Placidyl, a powerful sedative, and then began driving north. Once they reached Jasper County,the hitchhiker was reportedly “semiconscious” and unable to defend himself. Eyler stabbed the victim to death before burying him in a shallow grave.
Despite Eyler’s confession, he claimed not to know the name of the victim referred to as “Jasper County John Doe.” Although DNA was first used in a criminal case in 1986, it still was not widely in use at the time and, without any other leads, the case went cold.
It would remain that way until this past January, when Jasper County Coroner Andrew Boersma hired a geneological forensics company, Redgrave Research Forensic Services, to help identify the Eyler victim. Researchers were able to link DNA taken from “John Doe” to Lewis’s extended family through a geneology website, and it eventually led them to his siblings. Almost 40 years after his death, Billy Lewis reclaimed his identity.
Now that he has finally been found, Billy’s surviving family members plan on giving him a funeral then reinterring him next to his father.
The holiday season is again upon us and, if there’s anything more inevitable than the dazed, horror-stricken look of retail workers, it’s being reminded that although the weather outside can be frightful, people are much, much worse.
It’s that kind of story. You have been warned.
On December 20, 2020, Fort Wayne PD received a call from an anonymous source stating that her friend—a minor— was being forced to marry an adult against her will that very night. Officers went the scene, where they interrupted what generations past would’ve politely referred to as a “child wedding” in progress. Zee Kdee Ya, the 27-year-old prospective groom and possible ephebophile, was taking the hand of a girl only 13 years old.
Wearing a veil, dress, and make-up, the would-be child bride told police her parents had signed a wedding contract against her wishes the week prior to the ceremony. Despite saying she “didn’t want that,” the girl had been forced to move in with Ya and share his bed since then. When she resisted his attempts at sex, he reportedly quoted biblical passages to suit his purpose and said “I own you now, I can make you do what I want.” The victim sought help from her parents but, according to court documents, they said she “needed to have sex with Ya because he was now her husband.”
When questioned, the girl’s mother claimed the victim was only getting engaged and wouldn’t actually get married until she was 18. However, Se Dar Be then went on to admit the family had received gifts from the groom in return, including cash, and that she had “used the $2,000″ he’d paid to provide food for the party to celebrate the highly illegal wedding (plus buy that makeup for the victim). The father, Sadid Mot, told police the girl had been living with Ya but denied knowing anything about the money.
Ya confirmed both the mother’s claims concerning the gifts and money, as well as the father’s claim that the girl had been moved in with him, but denied forcing her to share a bed. He then went on to say that because the girl had cancelled the wedding, he wanted his money and jewelry back.
The Department of Child Services had reportedly told both father Sadid Mot and too-eager groom Ya that the nuptuals were against the law due to the girl’s age “on multiple occasions prior to Dec. 20.” Mot and mother Be were charged with one count each of Child Selling and Neglect of a Dependent. Ya was also charged with Neglect of a Dependent, as well as Child Solicitation.
In case you missed it, Indianapolis has officially broken its criminal homicide record for the second year in a row. An IMPD spokesperson confirmed the numbers posted by IndyStar last week, conceding that the city has experienced more than 218 acts of criminal homicide already this year, surpassing the previous record set in 2020.
Next year’s Indianapolis City-County Council budget includes $295 million for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Mayor Joe Hogsett has called the allocation the “largest anti-crime investment in the history of Indianapolis” but just how it will equate to public safety remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Indy residents are just hoping for some kind of return on their investment. According to a study released in October, this year’s unsolved murder rate is nearly 65%.
Few things in life are less reassuring than when local police announce seemingly apropos of nothing that, despite what you may have heard, there is not a serial killer preying on your community.
Many Indianapolis citizens were startled a few weeks ago when IMPD issued just such a statement in regard to a rumor making the rounds on local Facebook groups and chat boards at the time. According to a since-deleted post, a Twitter user stated an active serial killer has been targeting women and teenagers, claiming at least a dozen victims before dumping their bodies in wooded areas just south of I-465. The Twitter post then moved over to Facebook, where it was shared hundreds of times. However, authorities say the rumor is false and there is no evidence to support the allegations. “Detectives continue to investigate criminal cases looking at every reasonable motive,” asserted Officer Genae Cook.
As of last month, Indianapolis Metro Police had in excess of 5000 untested rape kits on their shelves, and more than 200 criminal homicides have occurred in their jurisdiction over the last year alone.
Residents of Sullivan County were disturbed to learn recently that their coroner, 56-year-old Tracy Tackett, had committed suicide. They were no doubt even more disturbed to learn the probable reason why.
The Indiana State Police had been investigating Tackett for allegations of soliciting sex from a minor at the time of his death. A YouTube program, “Expose Your Local Pedophile,” had recently released a video which appeared to show text exchanges between Tackett and someone he believed to be a fourteen-year-old girl, as well as footage of Tackett arriving for a supposed sexual encounter with the teen in Henderson, Kentucky. In a particularly odd move, Tackett actually wore a shirt identifying himself as a member of the Sullivan County Coroner’s Office when he went to the hook-up; the shirt and its logo can be seen in the video.
Tackett was reported missing Saturday morning after reportedly leaving the home he shared with his girlfriend in a rush. He was found dead the following Monday in the driver’s seat of his white Dodge pick-up, parked near Sullivan County roads 300 North and 225 East. He had suffered a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Unlike other families getting together for the holidays this year, the Steenbergens won’t feel much like celebrating. Instead, they’ll be mourning the loss of one of their own.
Indianapolis police are still searching for the killer of Tony Dewayne “TJ” Steenbergen, who was gunned down Sunday evening around 8:30 pm on Tacoma Avenue. He died in surgery at Methodist Hospital a few hours later. Only 32 at the time of his death, Steenbergen left behind a wife and two young daughters who are now trying to cope with the aftermath of this brutal crime.
If you have any information about the death of TJ Steenbergen, please contact the IMPD at 317-327-3475 or the Crime Hotline at 317-327-6682. Information can be given anonymously.