Ask the Truth: How many unsolved murders does Elkhart have?

 

In 2012, a 7-year-old girl was shot as she returned home from a football game.

In 2000, a well-known Elkhart attorney, 56, was shot through his bedroom window.

A 27-year-old man, suspected of dealing crack cocaine, was killed outside his home in 1992. 

While circumstances of these cases are vastly different, the victims have one thing in common: their murders are among the 34 unsolved homicide cases in Elkhart, dating back more than 40 years. 

In many of these cases, police have a suspect but haven’t been able to prove that the person committed the crime.

In an interview for a May 2014 Elkhart Truth article about the homicide unit, Asst. Chief Kris Seymore said the detectives need enough evidence to take the case to court before they make an arrest.

“Solving them is one thing,” Seymore said. “Arresting is the second step. We need probable cause (to make an arrest). Then we need to see if there’s enough to convict in a jury trial — beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s a pretty wide gap. We may have enough for an arrest, but are we going to win in a jury trial? We only get one shot.”

The oldest open homicide case in the city is the double murder of Paul and Julia Bonfiglio, an elderly couple found stabbed to death in their home May 21, 1974. Investigators arrested and charged John L. Anderson with the killings in August 1975, but the charges were dropped in March 1977 when the prosecution’s star witness went missing. The witness reappeared in June 1977 but prosecutors didn’t refile the charges. Anderson is serving a life sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City for the July 1974 murder of Isadore Goodman.

Efforts by community organizers and city leaders encouraging citizens to speak out with information on unsolved crimes have resulted in an increase in tips to detectives, said Sgt. Chris Snyder of the Elkhart Police Department.

Snyder could not specify how many tips the department has gotten this month, which cases they applied to or what information tipsters shared, but said detectives are working to investigate all new leads.

“We would like to thank those who came forward with information and will continue to encourage those with information to come forward,” Snyder wrote in an email to the Truth.

Anyone with information about any of these ongoing investigations is asked to contact the Elkhart Police Department at 574-295-7070 or call the department’s anonymous homicide tip line at 574- 389-4770.

Michiana Crime Stoppers also accepts tips and will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in any felony case. Tipsters remain completely anonymous, even when claiming their rewards. 

Tips can be submitted on the Michiana Crime Stoppers website and Facebook page or by calling 574-288-STOP or 800-342-STOP.

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