Local News Archives for 2023-08

Call Answering More Theft Allegations

(La Porte, IN) - A man has been accused of stealing money from a downtown La Porte business by obtaining a key to get inside.


Tony Call, II, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Theft.


According to court documents, the 34-year-old man went inside Zelden’s Shoe Store after hours last year, and removed close to $400 from a deposit bag after having allegedly stolen a key to get inside the building at 723 Lincolnway.


Call later contacted an employee at the store, promising to pay back the funds with money obtained from donating blood.


Call, who has several prior theft-related convictions, could face an up-to-30 month sentence on the charge.

Phone Calls Lead to Stalking Charge

(La Porte County, IN) - A Chicago man allegedly made hundreds, if not thousands of unwelcome telephone calls to a La Porte County woman over a period of several months.


As a result, Christopher Rentas, 48, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Stalking.


Rentas already had a warrant out for his arrest when the 32-year-old victim filed her latest report with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office. The woman said she received about 180 calls from Rentas in the past week. She allowed his calls to go to her voicemail, where he often leaves his messages, to archive for evidence.  In his last burst of alleged calls the messages were very short, consisting of just whistling or saying things like 'goodbye', per authorities.


The woman also reported receiving hundreds of calls weekly from the man.


In late June, she said there were 63 calls to her phone and 27 voicemails left by the man in a single day. The woman told police she knows Rentas from her previous job and having in-person conversations with him.


He could face as much as a 30-month sentence on the charge filed against him.

Speeding Leads to Arrest of Drug Dealer

(Michigan City, IN) - Police arrested a suspected drug dealer in Michigan City during a traffic stop.


Kahlil Fly, 20, has been charged with Dealing Methamphetamine, Prescription Pills and Marijuana.


Authorities said he was stopped for speeding on Franklin Street about two weeks ago, where over four grams of methamphetamine and other drugs were allegedly uncovered during a search. Over $1,400 in cash was also found in one of his pants pockets.


No guns were found, but a 14-year-old girl riding with him was discovered with a loaded magazine. She was released to the custody of her mother, who was called to the scene.


Fly, of Michigan City, also has several prior drug-related convictions.

Door Shut on Drug House

(Michigan City, IN) - A suspected drug house has been shut down in Michigan City.


Five people were arrested Wednesday at 908 York Street, as part of an investigation triggered by complaints of illegal activity at the residence. 


During the several-month-long process, police said numerous individuals were identified as selling and distributing narcotics from the residence.


The people arrested were: Vorice E. WILLIAMS II, Destiny J. CLANTON, Joseph R. PACE, Roger A. LENOIR and Kevin E. KIHLSTROM.

























Code enforcement officials from the city also responded Wednesday to investigate the living conditions at the home. A search warrant was issued for the residence, but police did not reveal if any drugs were found.





Driver of Car to Blame in Motorcycle Crash

(La Porte, IN) - The people involved in a collision between a car and a motorcycle Wednesday in La Porte have been identified.


Brian Essary, 47, of Rolling Prairie was westbound on Lincolnway when an eastbound car driven by Judith Maher, 76, of La Porte turned left into the path of his Honda motorcycle.


Maher told investigators she didn’t see the motorcycle when she began turning into the former Family Video parking lot.


The collision happened at about 1 p.m.


Essary was transported to the nearby Northwest Health facility, and later flown to a trauma center for more specialized care.


Essary is employed at Burdine Auto Body at 3494 West Joliet Road in Door Village.


Owner Rich Burdine said Essary called him after the collision, and sounded like he was in a lot of pain.


“He’s a loyal employee and always helpful to others. Good family guy. Takes care of his kids. There’s nothing I can think of that I don’t like about him,” he said.


Essary has been a body repairman at the shop for the past three years.


Burdine also said he was informed Essary would need surgery to repair a broken leg.


“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” he said.

Motorcyclist Badly Hurt in Collision with Car

(La Porte, IN) - A man on a motorcycle was seriously hurt in a collision with a car this afternoon in La Porte.


The accident occurred at about 1 p.m. in the 1400 block of Lincolnway close to Horizon Bank and Dairy Queen.  So far, police have not shed light on how the accident occurred, nor provided other details.


La Porte County Emergency Medical Service Administrator Andrew McGuire said the man, appearing to be middle-aged, was taken a short distance to Northwest Health.


A medical helicopter from the South Bend area landed about 30 minutes later to transfer the patient to an outside trauma center.


McGuire said the man was in critical condition.


“We had two ambulances and myself on scene,” he said.


An elderly woman inside a car with front-end damage stepped outside the vehicle to answer questions from police about the accident.


There was a pair of cowboy boots and a book bag next to the motorcycle, which was laid next to the curb on the north side of Lincolnway until being removed from the scene.


All four lanes on Lincolnway were blocked for roughly one hour to allow police to investigate the crash, and clean up the scene.  We’ll provide more details as they are made available.

Murder Suspect Returned to Face Charges

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City man charged with killing his roommate in 2017 and dismembering his body has been returned to face charges.


John Hallett, who’s now 54, is currently being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond on charges of Murder and Abuse of a Corpse.


He was previously held in a Cambridge, Massachusetts jail after being apprehended last week at his home in that community.


Hallett called Michigan City Police last year and claimed he killed an “old roommate” in late November of 2017 in a home they shared in the 1000 block of West 9th Street.


He and the victim, Paul Gonzales, 64, were homeless until they were placed into a shared residence by Housing Opportunities, a group with more than 200 low-income housing units in LaPorte and Porter counties. During an argument, he told police, he struck the victim from behind with a crutch before choking him to death and allowing his body to law on the basement floor for more than 50 days.


According to court documents, he then dismembered the decomposing body with a hacksaw before placing the body parts in plastic bags and disposing of them in municipal trash cans.


Hallett told police he killed Gonzales because he thought the victim was stealing his mail and trying to get him evicted from their home.


Authorities spent about one year investigating his claims, and eventually obtained a warrant for his arrest based on evidence that has allegedly substantiated his story.

Residential Fire Victim Identified

(Berrien County, MI) - A woman who died in a mobile home fire near Three Oaks early yesterday has been identified.


The victim was 62-year-old Dawn Popp. She was pronounced dead at the scene after the fire broke out at roughly 4 a.m. at Lakewood Estates Mobile Home Park in Chikaming Township.


A 59-year-old man who made it outside from inside the burning residence was taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.


So far, no light has been shed as to the cause of the blaze.

Gas Can Linked to Garage Fire

(La Porte, IN) - The source of a fire that heavily damaged a garage in La Porte has been linked to a gas can.


The fire occurred early Friday afternoon at 117 Sutherland Street.


Upon arrival, Fire Chief Andy Snyder noted that smoke and flames were coming out of the open garage door.


Investigators were told the motorcycle being worked on inside the detached garage at the time of the incident ignited a nearby gas can.


“The surrounding gas can burst into flames,” he said.


A man working on the motorcycle sustained burns to both hands, but they're not believed to be serious.


Firefighters were at the scene for about one hour.

Old Trash Container Pick Up Scheduled

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents still with RTS trash totes from the city’s former waste hauler will finally be rid of them by the end of next month.


According to the mayor’s office, the city and Lake Shore Recycling and Disposal will collect the totes from residents throughout the city on September 23rd.


“This retrieval is long overdue,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.


The totes were owned by the city’s former trash disposal provider, Recycle Track Systems, whose four-year contract with the city was not renewed earlier this year.  RTS was replaced by Waste Management.


“Since the day our administration took office, RTS has been nothing short of impossible to do business with. “We’ve tried for months to contact them and work out a plan to retrieve their totes without any success and are now taking matters into our own hands,” Dermody said.


In order for pick-up to occur, Dermody said totes need to be:

  • Moved to the curb (not in garages or on personal property);
  • Completely emptied of any trash or belongings; and
  • Placed out for pick-up no later than 6 a.m. on the morning of retrieval.

In help in the process, Dermody encouraged residents with totes to email their address to utilitybilling@cityoflaportein.gov.

Fire at Once-Popular Bar

(Michigan City, IN) - A vacant building that was once a popular Michigan City gathering place sustained heavy damage from a fire.


Firefighters were called to the former Franklin Street Bar and Grill after 6 P.M. last evening.


According to the fire department, the building flames were quickly brought under control.  The structure had no flooring and the roof collapsed prior to the blaze.

"As a result, all firefighting was done from the outside of the structure,” firefighters said.

There were no injuries.


No light was shed on what might have started the fire, which remains under investigation.

Man Accused of Punching Medic

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a paramedic being punched in La Porte.


Lee Schofield, 43, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Battery against a Public Safety Officer.


10 days ago, emergency responders went to a home in the 900 block of Division Street, finding Schofield intoxicated and unconscious while lying on his side in a hallway. 


A paramedic was attempting to perform medical treatment when Schofield woke up and allegedly punched the paramedic on the right side of his face.


Lee had to be carried to an ambulance and was taken to the hospital due to his level of intoxication. The punch left the paramedic with some swelling and redness on his face.


Lee could face an up to 30-month prison sentence on the Level 6 Felony charge.

Reckless Driver Found with Fentanyl

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police, responding to a report of a reckless driver, ended up making a drug-related arrest last night.


Candace Schwandt, 22, of Michigan City has been charged with Level 6 felony Possession of Cocaine or a Narcotic Drug, in addition to Possession of Paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.


A dispatcher was notified about a driver unable to maintain its lane of travel, speeding up and slowing down on U.S. 30 in Wanatah.  A responding officer then located the vehicle in the area of U.S. 421 and U.S. 6 near Westville.


The officer then witnessed the Chevy Cruze in question veer over the center and fog lines, before pulling it over and immediately detected an odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside the vehicle as Schwandt rolled down her window.


Schwandt said she was heading from Ft. Wayne to her parents’ house in Michigan City, and blamed her vision for the erratic driving.


A small amount of marijuana along with a half gram of fentanyl were allegedly found on her possession.  Police said there were also empty and full containers of narcan and other drug related items such, as a scale, and smoking devices in the vehicle.

Fatal Early Morning Fire

(Berrien County, MI) - A fatal mobile home fire occurred this morning in Berrien County, Michigan at Lakewood Estates, a manufactured home community northwest of Three Oaks.


So far, authorities have not released much information.


However, at least it is confirmed that one person has died in the blaze, which was reported at about 4:30 a.m.


No light has been shed on the cause of the fire, which remains under investigation.


Residents Near Homeless Housing Site More Alarmed

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents feel even more nervous about plans to create housing for the homeless in their neighborhood after learning about a man who was charged with Homicide at a similar development in Michigan City.


Tammy Lorence, who lives on Rumely Street, said she had only heard rumors about the incident before the housing plans were approved last week by the City Council.


“It’s just very alarming.  It’s just all very disturbing.  I’m at a loss for words,” she said.


John Hallett, 48, allegedly notified police close to five years later that he killed a man. He has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Murder and Level 6 felony Abuse of Corpse.


According to court documents, Hallett called Michigan City Police last year, claiming he had killed an “old roommate” in late November 2017, in a home they shared in the 1000 block of West 9th Street.


Hallett said he and the victim, Paul Gonzales, were homeless until being placed into a shared residence by Housing Opportunities, a group with more than 200 low-income housing units in LaPorte and Porter counties.


During an argument, he told police he had struck the victim from behind with a crutch and choked him to death, before allowing the body to lay on the basement floor for more than 50 days. He then purportedly dismembered the decomposing body with a hacksaw, placed the body parts in plastic bags, and then disposed of them in municipal trash cans.


Hallett told police he killed the 64-year-old Gonzales because he thought the victim was stealing his mail and trying to get him evicted from their home.


Charges were filed after police spent about a year compiling evidence to try and substantiate the suspect’s claims. Without a body, Fagan said, police found no evidence of Gonzales ever making a rent or utility bill payment, let alone a cell phone call since his reported death.


A cadaver dog was utilized, which detected traces of decomposition in the pores of the concrete basement floor where Hallett claimed the victim laid until his disposal. Fagan said laboratory tests of the evidence gathered from the floor confirmed the material was from a decomposing human or animal.


“They tested the concrete so they were able to figure out some of this stuff,” he said.


Court records also revealed the two men were homeless for quite some time before placed into the home.


Housing Opportunities has more than a dozen low-income housing units in LaPorte and Michigan City, and more than 200 similar housing units in Valparaiso and Portage. The nonprofit group is behind plans recently approved by the LaPorte City Council on August 21st.


Under the plan, 16 affordable housing units for the homeless will go into the old Coca Cola bottling plant in the 200 block of Rumely Street, with a $7.5 million state grant.


City officials and other supporters touted the in-house services planned for residents to address matters like behavioral and substance abuse issues, as well as teaching job skills to help them get back on their feet. Supporters also spoke highly about housing applicants being carefully screened, in addition to a ban on anyone with a history of violent crimes against people and sex offenses.


Prior to the decision, residents near the new housing site expressed concerns about safety and declining property values in their single family home neighborhood.


They didn’t learn about the reported killing until several days after the council’s vote.


“It’s quite a shock. It’s just an unsafe feeling even more so now,” said Randy Milcoff, who lives in the neighborhood.

Police Save Teenager in Overpass Suicide Attempt

(La Porte, IN) - Police saved the life of a teenager hanging from the edge of the U.S. 35 overpass in downtown La Porte over the weekend.


The girl was threatening suicide when officers showed up Saturday afternoon.  Police said two officers grabbed her by each arm and held on as she dangled from the overpass, close to 30 feet above the ground. 


Soon, the other two officers assisted in hanging on to the girl.


About five minutes later, firefighters reached her from a ladder truck and brought her down in a bucket to safety, allegedly resisting their efforts per La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.


La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin spike about the actions of his officers.


“It’s outstanding. They didn’t think of their own welfare. They’re going to be commended for this,” he said.


The officers involved were Ryan Helmecy, Adam Jaskowiak, Justin Dyer and Taylor Atkinson. 


The girl was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Alcohol Involved in Crash with Semi

(La Porte County, IN) - Alcohol was involved in a collision between a passenger vehicle and semi-truck just outside of La Porte.


43-year-old Nancy Palomares has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.


Late Friday night, police say she was veered over the center line on State Road 2 and collided with an oncoming semi- truck approaching near Indiana 39.  The truck driver tried swerving out of the way, but was not able to avoid the collision.


Palomares of La Porte complained of pain, but was not seriously injured. The truck driver, Shawn Perra, 49, also of La Porte was not hurt.


Palomares allegedly had a blood alcohol level more than two times the legal limit.

Car Crashes Through Garage Door

(La Porte County, IN) - A car damaged a garage near Michigan City over the weekend.


Just after 5 p.m. on Friday, La Porte County Police were called to a home in the 1500 block of N. Wozniak Road.


66-year-old Kathy Crozier purportedly pulled into the driveway to speak to the homeowner about insurance, before allegedly having trouble putting her vehicle in park. Suddenly, her SUV went forward, striking the back end of the homeowner’s vehicle.


The homeowner’s vehicle was pushed through the garage door, causing about $2,000 in damage to the door and frame. The homeowner, Nancy Christensen, 64, said she witnessed the crash while reading a book on her front porch.


Christensen said the vehicle pulled slowly into her driveway and appeared to be in park before speeding up as Crozier was seemingly trying to do multiple things at once.

Lowell Tops Slicers 26-7

Lowell used a 150-yard, two-touchdown performance by Colton Scott, dominated time of possession, and forced four Slicer turnovers leading to Friday night’s 26-7 win over visiting La Porte.


The Slicers came into the contest 1-0, fresh off of a 20-18 upset victory over 4A top-ten New Prairie. Lowell brought an 0-1 record following a one-sided 42-7 loss to Crown Point.


LP jumped to an early 7-0 lead on a 12-yard Aiden Penziol to Keigan Henckel pass. Jack Doty kicked the extra point with 8:47 left in the first quarter. This capped a three-play 76-yard drive that started after the first of two Jack Borelli interceptions. The drive was highlighted by a long Jon Laine run.


Lowell evened the score at the 2:17 mark of the second quarter. Quarterback Cameron Crago hit Zach Schamke with a 17-yard touchdown pass followed by an extra point kick by Landin Rosenthal. The score was 7-7 going into halftime.


The Red Devils put the game away with three touchdowns in the third quarter. The first was on a 45-yard run by Scott and an extra point by freshman Dylan Bisacchi. This capped an 80-yard, eight-play drive making it 14-7. Three minutes later, after a Slicer lost fumble, Scott scored again on a 14-yard run. Bisacchi’s kick was wide left making it 20-7. The third score of the period came with 47 seconds left on a 4-yard Caden Thompson run. A bad snap thwarted the extra point and the score was 26-7 entering the scoreless final period.


The Slicers missed several opportunities in the second half. They lost a fumble on their own 29-yard line in the third quarter setting up Lowell’s third score of the game. Kelli Hay ran the ensuing kickoff back to the Red Devil's 27-yard line before the Slicers turned the ball over on a fumble one play later at the 22. LaPorte drove to the Lowell 8-yard line in the 4th quarter before turning the ball over on downs.


Penziol was 15-25 passing for 146 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Henckel caught seven passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. Ollie Kring caught three passes for 45 yards, while Vann Warner snagged five for 65 yards. Laine ran four times for 43 yards. Borelli had two interceptions, one off of a deflection by Kai Jones. The Slicers also recovered a fumble.


Both teams stand 1-1 on the season. Lowell will travel to New Prairie on Friday night. The Slicers will open Duneland Conference play vs. defending 5A state champion Valparaiso on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Kiwanis Field. This game can be heard on 96.7 The Eagle with pregame starting at 6:45.

New Prairie Wins Home Opener

(New Carlisle) - New Prairie bounced back Friday night after a tough opening loss last week at La Porte. The Cougars won their home opener against Goshen 29-10.


The Redhawks struck first when senior Drew Elliott scored on a 39-yard run. But the Cougars responded with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Martial Kmiecik to senior receiver Reece Lapczynski.


Goshen scored again to start the second quarter when a 25-yard run on fourth-and-one set up a 33-yard field goal. But from there, New Prairie found another gear. Kmiecik manufactured two more touchdowns on a pass and a run of over 60 yards each. Goshen lost their quarterback, junior Elliot Frey, to injury in the second quarter and played the rest of the way with freshman Carter Diaz under center.


Despite a series of penalties in the second half, the Cougars held on for the victory. Overall, head coach Casey McKim was pleased with his team’s effort, but not with the penalties. The Cougars were flagged 12 times for 120 yards. “The details, focusing on small things— honestly I thought we did a pretty good job most of the game,” he said after,” and then that flurry of penalties there at the end was extremely frustrating as a coach.”


Last week’s loss to heavy-underdog La Porte was a wake-up call for New Prairie. “That’s kind of why I tried to stay positive with our guys right afterwards, McKim said Friday. “You want to win and learn, so it’s good to have a victory, but we definitely have a lot of work to do. We have guys who are extremely explosive, guys who are extremely good athletes, but we’re not completely on the same page with our blockers.”


The Cougars rushed for 296 yards. 174 of those were on 14 carries by Kmiecik, who also scored two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Reed Robinson gained 82 yards on 10 carries, with a touchdown. Senior Dylan Wilson led the Cougar defense with 10 tackles, including two sacks and a fumble recovery. Senior Trenton Klute had eight tackles, including a sack, and senior Maddox Franklin had an interception.


New Prairie will host Lowell next Friday.

Michigan City Shooting Ruled Murder-Suicide

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police have provided an update on the two shooting deaths earlier this week.


On Tuesday morning two bodies were discovered in a residence at Normandy Village Apartments. Detectives determined that multiple shots had been fired inside an apartment. Multiple items of evidence were collected at the scene, and autopsies were performed on the victims, 23-year-old Corey Robinson Jr. and 20-year-old Kaliya Harrington.


Authorities now believe that this was a domestic incident resulting in a murder-suicide. Police say it was an isolated occurrence. No other suspects are being sought at this time.


But if anyone has any additional information about the incident, they are still encouraged to contact Michigan City Police.

Powerball Winner in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Wednesday’s Powerball lottery drawing yielded a big winner locally.


A $50,000 winning ticket was sold at the Family Express on State Road 2 and Fail Road. The winning ticket matched four out of five numbers and the Powerball in Wednesday’s drawing.


So far, the winning ticket has not been reported as claimed.


The next Powerball drawing is tonight; the jackpot is an estimated $345 million.

First Golf Tournament for Fan at 103

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte area woman has been a huge fan of professional golf practically for the entirety of her very long life, having recently gone to her first PGA golf tournament at the age of 103.


Susan Cichon said being at the tournament in Olympia Fields, Illinois was a birthday present from her son, Bob, and granddaughters, Julia and Jill. The same family members were behind 12 professional golfers, on video, singing Happy Birthday to her on her 100th birthday.


“Now that I’m 103 they just thought let’s continue with this,” she said.


During the tournament, Cichon said she met her favorite professional golfer, Rickie Fowler, along with other golfers like Rory McElroy and Tommy Fleetwood.


”Made me very, very happy,” she said.


Cichon, nicknamed “Grandma Susie,” said she grew up in Wisconsin and came to La Porte when she was 21 because her boyfriend, whom she later married, was from here.


“Grandma Susie” has been here ever since and needs just a walker to occasionally get around still lives at home with her son, where she keeps busy with things like housework.



Cichon said her late husband, Edward, played golf, but she never did.  She was about to play for the first time with her husband years ago, though, but she couldn’t use his right-handed clubs and was unable to find a left-handed set of clubs to purchase for herself.


“I just completely got it out of my mind that I would do any golfing but I watched it and I enjoy it.  I enjoy the peace.  I enjoy the sportsmanship,” she said.

Applications Sought for Patrol Officer

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the position of patrol officer.


Police said the applicant who successfully completes and passes the various stages of the process will immediately fill a vacancy.


The hiring process will include the following stages:  application phase, physical agility testing, written examination, computerized voice stress analysis examination, background investigation, Merit Division panel interview, Merit Commission interview and psychological examination. 


In addition, police said applicants who have successfully graduated from a certified law enforcement academy will be “fast-tracked” through an abbreviated hiring process.     


Applications can be found online by accessing www.laportecountysheriff.com or by picking them up at the front desk of the Sheriff’s Office. 


The deadline for submitting an application is  September 22 at 6:00 AM (CST). 


Individuals who apply and meet the required standards will be notified with further instructions. 


The starting salary for a The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is now accepting applications for the position of patrol Merit Deputy is $56,000. 


Following one year of service, the salary increases to $65,000. 


Those with current or prior law enforcement experience are strongly encouraged to apply since the sheriff’s office offers a variety of specialty divisions, incentives and benefits package and a financially sound pension.    


Completed applications can be dropped off at the front desk of the Sheriff’s Office, sent via standard mail, or as a scanned attachment and sent via email.


Completed applications may be mailed to the following:


La Porte County Sheriff’s Office

Attn:  Captain Derek J. Allen

809 State Street

La Porte, Indiana 46350


All completed applications sent via email shall be sent to the following:  dallen@lcso.in.gov.  Any questions should be directed to Captain Allen at the aforementioned email address.    


Dismembered Body Discarded in Trash Cans

(Michigan City, IN) - The body of a 2017 Michigan City murder victim was dismembered and disposed of among various trash cans.


Those are among the latest details in the case against Mark Hallett, 48, who allegedly notified police he was the perpetrator several years following the previously unknown death. 


More newly uncovered information reveals that both men were roommates and previously homeless until they were placed into a residence by Housing Opportunities, a group with plans to similarly add more housing in La Porte.  


Hallett, 48, charged with Murder and Abuse of Corpse, is currently being held in a Massachusetts jail until he is returned to La Porte County to properly wait for the case to be decided in court.


According to court documents, Hallett called Michigan City Police last year, claiming he killed an old roommate in late November of 2017. Police were unaware of the death because after laying on the basement floor for more than 50 days, the victim was dismembered with a hacksaw and disposed of in trash cans.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan said the victim, Paul Gonzales, 64, was also transient.


Hallett told police he thought the victim was stealing his mail and trying to get him evicted from their home in the 1000 block of W. 9th Street. During an argument, Hallett said he hit Gonzales with a crutch and choked him to death.


Charges were filed after police spent roughly one year verifying the suspect’s claims.


Authorities assert that there’s been no trace of Gonzales ever since. A cadaver dog detected traces of decomposition in the pores of the concrete basement floor where Hallett claimed the victim lay until he disposed of him. Per Fagan, the case was bolstered further by a forensic examination of other evidence collected.


Hallett was taken into custody at a home in Massachusetts after a judge reviewing the case ruled there was sufficient evidence to charge him.


Court records also revealed the two men were homeless for quite some time until being placed into the home by the not-for-profit group Housing Opportunities.


Housing Opportunities is behind plans to use a $7.5 million state grant to convert the old Coca-Cola bottling plant on Rumely Street in La Porte into affordable housing for homeless individuals. Residents in the neighborhood, fearing potential safety concerns and declining property values, vocally objected to the plans approved Monday night by the City Council.


The organization also has similar low-income housing in Valparaiso and Portage.

Temperatures Dip in Time for Football

(New Buffalo, MI) - The weather throughout the area has become much more comfortable today than it has been recently, to say the least.


A lot of high school sport events were cancelled yesterday due to the extremely hot and humid conditions.


In New Buffalo, the season-opening high school football game was not postponed, but rather pushed back one hour to allow the temperatures to drop back to safer levels.  


By kick-off, conditions had started to become more comfortable.


“I think it was a wise decision. There’s a little breeze kicking up,” remarked Superintendent Michael Lindley.


Lindley said rescheduling the game would have posed some challenges because the high school soccer team has a match scheduled later today at the football field.


Such a move also would have interfered with the schedules of referees with no guarantees of finding replacements, he said. 


The Red Arrow Raiders, consisting of students from New Buffalo and River Valley high schools, led 24-to-0 at the end of the first quarter with help from long touchdown runs by Owen Slavin and interception returned 40 yards for a touchdown by M'Nason Smothers. 


The team went on to an easy 74-14 victory over Bloomingdale.

Arrest in Cold Case Murder

(Michigan City, IN) - An arrest has been made for a cold case homicide in Michigan City.


John Hallett, 48, has been charged with Murder and Abuse of a Corpse.


According to Michigan City Police, the killing occurred in November of 2017 at a home in the 1000 block of W. 9th Street. 


Nearly five years later, information arose indicating that a homicide occurred in the home, which was searched for evidence.  What was obtained by authorities underwent a forensic examination, which ultimately helped identify Hallett as the suspect.


Hallett was charged on August 8th, when La Porte Superior Court 1 Judge Jamie Oss reviewed the case and ruled the evidence was sufficient enough to order him to answer the allegations.


Hallett was then taken into custody at a home in Massachusetts after information developed that indicated he was in that state.


The victim was 64-year-old Paul Gonzales, whose body was mutilated. 


So far, authorities have not shed light on motive, or how the homicide took place. Hallett will be returned to La Porte County at some point in the near future to face the charges.

Mayoral Candidate Proposes Local Investors

(La Porte, IN) - If elected, a candidate for mayor in La Porte said he wants to create a way for the public to become investors in the city to maximize the benefits of local dollars staying in the community.


Democrat Ron Zimmer said people would be given the opportunity to contribute financially, and that those dollars would be held in a trust. A board of directors would be appointed and decide the type of businesses to open with that money, based on things like feedback from the investors.


“If I had, let’s say, 30,000 people invest $1,000, all of that money would go into there at three percent interest.  You don’t even have to live in the city. The Green Bay Packers are owned by their fans and some people in the La Porte area own stock in the Green Bay Packers,” he said.


Zimmer said the investors would become partial owners and receive dividends from the profits, which would provide incentive for those businesses to remain open long term.  He said more local residents would also have job opportunities. 


He spoke further saying local dollars, used locally, make much more of an economic impact on cities than businesses with outside owners whose profits mostly leave cities.


Zimmer, who ran for mayor twice previously, said a flea market and roller rink are among the new businesses he would push to bring here to attract more people and money into the city.


The retired Ford Motor Company worker is facing incumbent Mayor Republican Tom Dermody in the November election. 


Zimmer said his campaign is self-funded.


He was outside City Hall, listening to the concerns of residents from the area of Rumely St. before the city council on Monday night approved low income housing for the homeless in their neighborhood.


Zimmer said he likes the idea, but he would prefer such a facility go into a new building at the old La Porte Hospital site. 

Farm in Family Since 1881

(La Porte County, IN) - The state has recognized a La Porte County farm that has been in the same family for well over a century.


Nate Mrozinski said his great great-grandfather, after coming from Poland, started the farm near Rolling Prairie in 1881 with 20 acres at 600 East and 700 North. Now, over 2,000 are farmed by the family.


The 38-year-old Mrozinski said he didn’t know exactly when the farm was started until he began doing some research in recent months.


“The last few years I was curious about how long our farm had been around. We have an old barn that was built in 1930.  I started tracing it back and I had some family members that had a little bit of paperwork for me,” he said.


The builder of the barn, Fred White of Galien, Michigan, wrote his name and where he was from inside the barn.


Mrozinski says his late father and late grandfather shared some of the farm’s history with him over the years, but he wanted to fill in the gaps.


“My grandfather had told me some. They used to farm back with horses and we still have some of the original equipment like the horse drawn plow and stuff like we keep up in this barn just as memorabilia,” he said.


The state has declared the property a Hoosier Homestead Farm because of its age. The Hoosier Homestead program recognizes farms that have been in the same family for 100 to 200 years to help celebrate the heritage of agriculture in the state.  


One of Mrozinski's favorite childhood memories on the farm was when his grandfather allowed him to operate a tractor by himself to plow a field when he was probably “six or seven years old.”


“He finally asked me if I was ready and I’ll never forget that,” he said.


Corn, soybeans, hay, and cattle are among the things raised at the Mrozinski farm spread over Kankakee, Galena, Hudson and Wills townships along with St. Joseph County outside New Carlisle.


Mrozinski was a custom applicator of fertilizer and pesticides for the Starke County Coop when he returned to the farm in 2010 because of his grandfather and father passing away from cancer.


The property used to primarily be a dairy farm, until his family decided in the 1990’s to get out of the business and focus more on row crops.


The image of the barn from years ago was once on the menu at what's now called Heston Supper Club. 



Nate and his brother, Erik, do all of the farming now while their sister, Morgan, a full time nurse, helps with the bookkeeping.  Mrozinski, who also remembers his great grandfather as a young child, said it’s a great feeling to know more about the history of the family farm.


“It gives you a sense of pride and it makes you happy to be able to continue on with a family legacy.  It makes you want to keep going,” he said.

OWI Charge Added to Already Long List

(La Porte, IN) - Police had their hands full arresting a La Porte man charged again with impaired driving.


Last week, 31-year-old Ivan Gonzalez allegedly ran a red light at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lincolnway in downtown La Porte. During a traffic stop, the approaching officer spotted a can of Bud Light between his legs.


Gonzalez, while being questioned by the officer, attempted to take another drink but had the can wrestled from his hand after being commanded not to.


During the struggle, a taser gun was used on Gonzalez to momentarily disable him just long enough to have him handcuffed.  After taken to the county jail, though, police said he became combative again by trying to kick the correctional officers (among other similar acts).


His vehicle also contained about a dozen empty Bud Light cans and empty containers of hard lemonade.


The OWI charge was upgraded to a felony because of a prior OWI conviction from four years ago. He also has numerous other OWI convictions in the past.

Officers Honored for Arrests of Fugitives

(La Porte, IN) - Several La Porte City Police officers have been recognized for taking two people into custody, wanted for the shooting death of a child downstate.


About a month ago, Chief Paul Brettin said a car entering the city’s east side was picked up by a license plate reader with information provided by police in West Lafayette.


Officers monitoring the license plate reader located the vehicle in the 1300 block of Lincolnway before making a traffic stop.


La Porte Police Commissioner Terry Scherer said it was later discovered the individuals had 23 other active felony warrants.


The suspects were identified as Deonta Johnson, 27, and Shatia Welch, 24, both of West Lafayette.


A five-year-old boy managed to obtain a gun kept in their residence and fatally shot a one-year-old boy in the home in March. 


Officer Taylor Atkinson was among the five officers recognized during this week’s La Porte City Council meeting.


“Knowing we were part of bringing justice to these two individuals is an incredible feeling,” he said.


The other officers recognized for the apprehensions include Alex Mendoza, Brian Helmecy, Brian Allen and Jose Gonzalez.  

Cooling Centers Open to the Public

(La Porte, IN) - The cities of La Porte and Michigan City have cooling centers open again today to help residents beat the extreme heat.


“Heat this excessive is a lot for anyone, but elderly people and those with heart conditions or breathing issues are especially at risk. Please check on neighbors and loved ones, and encourage those in need to take advantage of this important resource,” said La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.


The following locations in La Porte are open to the public as cooling centers.





La Porte City Hall

801 Michigan Ave.

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

*La Porte Fire Station #3

710 Daytona St.

8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

La Porte Civic Auditorium

1001 Ridge St.

8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

La Porte Park & Rec Office

250 Pine Lake Ave.

8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

La Porte County Public Library

904 Indiana Ave.

9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Center Twp. Trustee’s Office

1108 W. St. Rd. 2

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


In Michigan City, people can go to the Salvation Army until 6 p.m.

Other cooling centers are at the Michigan City Fire and Training Center at 2510 E. Michigan Blvd until 4 p.m.; the Michigan City Police Department until 4 p.m. and City Hall at 100 E. Michigan Blvd. until 4 p.m.

Dermody said anyone in need of help after hours may contact the City of La Porte Police Department non-emergency line at 219-362-6205.

Two Found Shot to Death in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A man and a woman were found shot to death in a Michigan City apartment Tuesday.


At 11:42 a.m. a 911 call alerted police to the discovery of an unconscious person in an apartment in the 2300 block of Normandy Drive. That’s the apartment complex near W. Pahs Rd. and S. Woodland Ave.


Michigan City police officers found two people dead inside the apartment. Detectives determined that multiple gunshots had been fired inside the residence. They say it appeared to have been an isolated incident and posed no active threat to the community.


The victims have been identified as 23-year-old Corey Robinson Jr. and 20-year-old Kaliya Harrington, both of Michigan City. An autopsy was performed on Wednesday, the results of which are currently pending.


The Michigan City Police Department is urging anyone who may have any additional information regarding this incident to contact Sergeant Lendell Hood at (219) 874-3221; extension 1074 or via email at lhood@emichigancity.com.

Animal Shelters Waiving Fees This Week

(La Porte County, IN) - It’s a good week to get a pet. Two animal shelters in La Porte County are offering a dog-gone good deal in an effort to empty their kennels.


Both the Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center in La Porte and the Michiana Humane Society in Michigan City have waived adoption fees this week. The promotion in La Porte lasts through Friday. In Michigan City, it extends through Saturday. All other policies and procedures apply.


The Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center, which is located near the La Porte County Fairgrounds, is open Wednesday 10-6 and from 10-4 on Thursday and Friday. The Michiana Humane Society is located at 722 Indiana Highway 212. It opens at noon everyday until 5 on Wednesday and Friday, 6:30 on Thursday, and 4 on Saturday.


Candidate for Mayor Opposes Housing Site

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man running for mayor feels low-income housing for the homeless should not go in a residential area.


A 16-unit housing development facility for the homeless is currently planned in the 200 block of Rumely Street, following the approval of a zoning change last night by the City Council.  


Nearby residents are upset, fearing an increase in crime in their neighborhood and feeling the Mayor and City Council have ignored their concerns.


Democratic mayoral candidate Ron Zimmer said the residents shouldn’t have it in their neighborhood if they don’t want it.


“I’ve always said if I was the mayor I would listen to the will of the people,” he said.


Zimmer also said his ear to the public would be open as much as humanly possible. 


“I’m going to listen to the people like no mayor has ever listened to the people before. I’ll listen to them because right now it seems like this is going through the whole country.  People feel like they’re not being listened to, right?  Like they don’t matter, ok. I’m not trash talking Mayor Dermody. He’s got his reasons for doing what he’s doing,” he said.


Dermody supported the proposal, saying it meets a local housing need and puts to use a recently abandoned structure that could attract criminal behavior if left vacant. 


Zimmer also noted that he would prefer the housing facility be placed at the old La Porte Hospital site. He says the ground is more out in the open, which could encourage residents to take any wrongdoing elsewhere.


Zimmer ran for mayor two times previously, with his last attempt in 2011.


He and his wife, Pat, were outside City Hall during the council meeting last night listening to the concerns of residents with a sign urging the council to vote against the facility.

Crash Results in Chase and OWI Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - After crashing his vehicle near Michigan City last night, a suspected drunk driver fled from police on foot before ultimately being captured.


Tizhe Rabon, 22, has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated and Resisting Law Enforcement.


Police say the OWI charge was upgraded to a Level 6 Felony due to a prior conviction for Driving while Impaired.


At about 10 p.m., officers were called to a single-vehicle crash on Welnetz Road.


According to authorities, the smell of alcohol was detected on the breath of the then-red and droopy-eyed Rabon, who began running while ignoring commands to stop. The officer chasing him on foot gradually caught up to the suspect before taking him to the ground.


The plastic trim on the law enforcement vehicle at the site was broken from the struggle officers had in placing the resisting suspect inside.


Rabon was also wanted on an outstanding warrant out of La Porte County for Criminal Mischief.

Tires Stolen from Car on Blocks

(La Porte County, IN) - Authorities are currently investigating the theft of rear tires from a car just outside Michigan City.


According to La Porte County Police, officers were called last evening to the

Woodland Crossing apartment complex on Woodsedge Drive. 


A 21-year-old woman told police she came home work and went to bed, only to wake up up several hours later and discover the rear axle of her car on blocks. Both tires and rims had been removed.


The estimated loss was $400.


There was no evidence found at the scene to shed light on who was involved in the crime.

Woman Falls for Gift Card Scam

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte area woman is out hundreds of dollars after falling for a scam, contained in a text message offering a lower rate for her internet service.


The 67-year old woman called her so-called provider at the contact number given to her and followed the instructions given. She placed $400 on a gift card before verbally giving the card's numbers to the spoof representative so he could access the funds in return for the lower rate.


However, the caller told her the card did not work, and requested she purchase another $400 card.


As directed, she went out again and put more money on another gift card and giving the info to the impostor.  As it turned out, both cards were actually functional, and she was now out $800.


The woman told police she fell for the scam because everything about the call seemed like it was actually from her internet provider.

Housing for Homeless Plans Approved

(La Porte, IN) - Plans for low-income housing for the homeless were approved by the La Porte City Council last night.


Housing Opportunties, a not-for-profit group with similar housing initiatives in La Porte, Michigan City, Valparaiso and Portage, will create 16 units inside the old Coca Cola bottling plant in the 200 block of Rumely Street.


There will be in-house services available to residents with medical, physical, mental health and substance abuse issues. Rent will be based on 30-percent of a resident’s income.

La Porte resident and former city councilperson Renee Scherer is against the plans.  During the meeting, she talked about an encounter she had in downtown Michigan City with two men from a nearby homeless shelter.


Scherer doesn’t want that kind of behavior coming here especially in a neighborhood with children. 


“I had two guys, homeless, follow me.  They said hey, baby.  You’re fine looking.  I’d like to be your daddy.  They just make rude comments. I had to go into a shop to get away from them.  Just think what they would say to a child,” she said.


Many of the residents feel betrayed by their elected officials.  Tammy Lorence said she will consider challenging the decision.


“I will continue my effort until the key goes into the lock. I don’t know what else to say except I’m feeling a little defeated,” she said.


Ron Clark and his wife, Margaret, have lived in the neighborhood for 40 years and fear the value of their property will now decrease, in spite of the significant investments they've made into their property.


Mr. Clark called the decision a slap in the face, claiming that decision-makers wouldn’t want such housing in their neighborhoods.


“They’d be fighting it just like we are,” he said.


Julie West is their city council person, who described going back and forth on her decision before voting to support it. She said her decision was based on the greater good of the community.


“This is not easy. I’ll probably go home tonight and not sleep very well because I know there’s going to be some people that will be upset with my vote as well.  But, I do feel that I need to vote for what’s best for our community,” West said.


Officials pointed out Housing Opportunities will screen all applicants and not allow anyone with a history of violent crimes against people or sex offenders.


Mayor Tom Dermody said Housing Opportunities has a solid reputation for providing quality housing without much impact on crime. He said the plans will help ease demand for affordable housing locally.


“It’s going to be a fantastic addition.  People are going to be safe.  I understand the concerns and we’re going to make sure everything moves smoothly,” Dermody said.


Housing Opportunities will convert the structure into housing with a $7.5 million state grant.


Jordan Stanfill, CEO of the organization, said people must  be homeless and have some sort of disability or substance abuse issue to qualify.


He said the facility could be open within 18-to-24 months.


Stanfill said almost every resident at other facilities have moved on to own or rent their next home or move in with families members because of the affordability and help that’s available to correct issues that led them into homelessness.

Hopes High for Another Strong Football Season

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders are hoping to win more games than last year’s high school varsity football team, which finished very strong after a slow start.


Head Coach Matt Johnson said the team with nine returning starters should be very competitive despite losing key performers like Eli Thomas, Josh Seifert, David Fairchild and Cadden Krieger to graduation.


He believes returning young players like M’Nason Smothers and newcomer Owen Slavens, who both have speed, can help fill gaps on the team consisting of students from New Buffalo and River Valley high schools.  


“We have some holes to fill but we have some guys that I think if they do what they’re supposed to do they’ll be able to fill those holes,” he said.


Slavens is a star athlete in track getting accustomed to playing football after not playing since middle school.  Johnson said he expects Slavens to be his starting halfback and possibly play in the backfield on defense.


“He’ll be able to fill some shoes as well,” he said.


Returning impact players include strong arm quarterback Ethan Lijewski and full back Ryder Wolnik, who’s also a very strong performer on defense. Johnson said other keys to the season will be the play of starting linebackers Peyton Lijewski and Quan Pierce.


He said they were just learning the position last season when the team lost its first two games but improved enough to become major contributors to a streak of six victories in last seven games.


“That’s when we turned around our season,” he said.


Johnson said another ingredient for a strong season will be keeping starting members of his offensive line and defensive line healthy.  He said each side of the line has four very strong players but lack of depth at those positions could hurt if any of them have to be replaced because of injury.


The first game of the season for the Raiders is August 24th against Bloomingdale at New Buffalo High School.


“I always tell the kids start fast and finish strong.  That’s the goal here,” he said.

Slicers Shock New Prairie 20-18 On Jack Doty's Stick

Senior kicker Jack Doty hit a 22 yard field goal with 6.4 seconds remaining in the game Friday night giving the Slicers a shocking 20-18 win over county rival New Prairie. The kick culminated a 65 yard, seven play, 43 second drive countering Cougar kicker Owen Chalik’s 31 yard boot that gave NP an 18-17 lead with 49.7 seconds left. The win was La Porte’s first over the Cougars since a 41-12 win in 2017.


LP stopped New Prairie on the game’s first possession. The Cougars were looking at a 3rd and 1 after the second play of the game. After the play, the Cougars were called for a dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The penalty turned the 3rd and 1 into a 3rd and 16. NP couldn’t pick up the first down and were forced to punt.


The Slicers moved the ball to the Cougar 10 yard line behind hard running by Jon Laine and sophomore quarterback’s Aiden Penzoil’s quick passing game. The Slicers drive stalled after a holding penalty and Doty kicked 39 yard field goal giving La Porte a 3-0 lead with 4:13 left in the 1st quarter. The scoring drive covered 63 yards in ten plays. 


On the next possession New Prairie took the lead with their own 10 play drive covering 74 yards. Reed Robinson capped it off with a 21 yard run to make it 6-3 at the 10:35 of the second period. Chalik came out to kick the extra point with Robinson holding. The snap was high. Robinson was able to snag it then ran around the right side for the 2 point conversion making it 8-3 New Prairie. 


La Porte moved the ball to the New Prairie 35 yard line on the next possession. The drive stalled and Doty came into punt. He got the punt away but was hit by a Cougar defender. The 15 yard roughing the kicker penalty gave LP a first down at the NP 20. On the very next play Penzoil hit Drew Flores on a quick slant route for a touchdown. Doty’s kick made it 10-8 Slicers with 8:21 remaining in the half. The drive covered 70 yards in six plays. The score was 10-8 at the half. 


The third quarter started out with a bang. On the fourth play of the period the Slicers were looking at 2nd and 9 from their own 33 yard line. Penzoil dropped a perfect pass into the hands of Ollie Kring. Kring made a remarkable fingertip catch and ran it in for a 67 yard touchdown. Doty’s kick made it 17-8.  The four play drive covered 78 yards and took just under two minutes. 


The Cougars answered quickly. Beau Kmiecik caught the kickoff on the run at the 7 yard line and powered down the sideline all the way to the Slicer 35. On the first play from scrimmage, Brock Sinka ran 35 yards for the TD. Chalik’s kick was good, cutting the Slicer lead to 17-15 with 9:41 remaining in the third quarter. 


Neither team scored again until the final minute of the game.  


The Slicers wasted a golden opportunity when New Prairie tried a pass on fourth down while in punt formation from their own 15. The pass was incomplete. LP took over with a chance to extend their lead but a holding penalty and negative yardage plays force them to settle for a 40 yard field goal attempt that missed short and left.


The Slicer defense held and La Porte had the ball with just over 10 minutes left in the game leading 17-15. They drove into NP territory stalling at the NP 35. Doty came into punt. He dropped the snap, picked it up, avoided the Cougar rush, and got a kick away that pinned NP at their own 2 yard line with just over six minutes left. 


The Cougars went to work picking up big chunks of yardage on runs by star QB Marshall Kmiecik and Robinson. They used 265 pound Johnathan Klosinski in short yardage situations. They drove the ball to Slicer 8 yard line where they faced a 2nd and 7. The third down play was a near disaster for the Cougars. The center snap sailed over Kmiecik’s head, all the way back to the 30 making it 3rd and 29. Kmiecik was able to complete a 15 yard fourth down pass to the 14 setting up Chalik’s go ahead kick with 49.7 seconds left. New Prairie’s impressive drive covered 83 yards in 11 plays.

Down 18-17 with under a minute left the gutsy Slicers worked their way down the field keyed by two huge pass plays. Penzoil flipped to ball back to former quarterback and current wide receiver Keegan Henckel who found Flores on sideline for a 30 yard gain putting the Slicers on the NP 34, just out of Doty’s range. Penzoil then hit Kring at the NP 5 for 29 yards with 8 seconds left. The clock stopped to move the chains. The Slicers hustled to the line of scrimmage and Penzoil clocked the ball with 6.4 seconds left. New Prairie called their final timeout before Doty drilled the game winning 22 yard field goal giving LP a 20-18 lead.


The Cougars fielded Doty’s squib kick, tried two laterals before the ball was knocked free and LP’s Darius Hurt covered it setting off a raucous Slicer celebration.


Penzoil’s debut at quarterback was a smashing success. He went 16-23 passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Laine ran 16 times for 72 yards. Flores caught six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Henckel caught five balls for 55 yards and completed his only pass for 30 yards. Kring caught six passes for 119 yards, ran once for 6 yards and scored a touchdown.  


New Prairie’s Marshall Kmiecik ran 13 times for 115 yards. He completed 4-13 passes for 63 yards. Robinson ran 10 times for 42 yards with a touchdown while Sinka carried the ball 8 times for 56 yards and scored. Beau Kmiecik caught two passes for 39 yards.


La Porte will travel to Lowell next Friday with kickoff scheduled at 7:00. The game can be heard on 96.7 the Eagle, Pregame at 6:45. New Prairie will host Goshen.

Three Charged with Abusing Boy

(La Porte, IN) - Arrests have been made in connection with a La Porte boy getting abused for several weeks earlier in the summer.


His mother, Leanne Disbrow, her boyfriend’s son, Brett Culvahouse, and family friend Austin Justice have all been charged in La Porte Circuit Court.


Police got involved in late June when the 11-year-old boy wound up at the hospital with bruises all over his body, all inflicted at his home on Roosevelt Street.


The boy told authorities he had been punched and kicked at times, for no reason, since the beginning of summer break. The investigation also turned up claims that the boy’s mother gave the two men permission to discipline her son as they saw fit.


Disbrow, and at least one of the other suspects, also allegedly wore a boxing glove to strike the boy (and on one or more occasions, utilized a plastic baseball bat).


According to court documents, the boy was taken to the hospital after being beat up again, this time struck in the arm several times with BB’s from a BB gun.


The mother insisted the injuries were from her son falling out of bed and shooting himself.


Disbrow has been charged with Neglect of a Dependent and Domestic Battery. 


Culvahouse was charged with Domestic Battery, while Justice has been charged with Battery.

Impaired Driving Blamed for Gas Leak

(La Porte County, IN) - A natural gas leak in the Westville area over the weekend was caused by a suspected drunk driver.


La Porte County Police said 38-year-old Agnes Graham had a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. Earlier on Saturday, Graham drove into a ditch before pulling into the Whiteford Kenworth truck dealership on State Road 2 near U.S. 421.


She was leaving when her SUV struck the gas meter on the building hard enough to start leaking.


The Westville Fire Department responded to the scene (in addition to a representative from NIPSCO) to shut off the leak and repair the damage.


She was not injured.  Police said her blood alcohol level was slightly above .34 percent. The La Porte area woman admitted to consuming several shots prior to the incident.

Officers Bitten in Struggle with Man

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man has been charged with striking and biting police officers during a struggle.


45-year-old Joseph Podgorski is currently being held in La Porte County Jail on $15,000 bond.


About two weeks ago, officers responded to a call about a vehicle doing burnouts throughout a neighborhood. With blown tires, the suspected vehicle was located at Podgorski’s home in the 800 block of Clement Street.


According to court documents, he demanded officers leave, before allegedly shoving one of the officers. During a struggle, Podgorski kicked officers numerous times and bit two.


The officers, bleeding from bite marks, later went to the hospital where they were given antibiotics and a tetanus shot as a precaution.


Podgorski has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with multiple counts, including Battery to a Police Officer.

Playing for Jake

(La Porte, IN) - It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since Jake West collapsed and died on a football practice field from sudden cardiac arrest. Before Friday night’s football season opener at La Porte High School, there was a special ceremony to honor his legacy.


Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student-athletes and the leading cause of death on school campuses Thanks to a new state law named after Jake, AEDs are now required at all K-12 extracurricular events.


Prior to Friday night’s game, members of the La Porte High school community met Jake’s mother, Julie West, at the 26-yard line and presented her with his #26 game jersey. A #26 flag was hoisted in Jake’s honor behind the end zone, and the crowd observed 26 seconds of silence.


It was fitting that New Prairie fans were on hand. They too lost a student to an undiagnosed heart condition—Mark Mayfield in 2017.


New Prairie and La Porte High School were the 1st and 5th high schools in the state to receive an Indiana Heart Safe Designation.


Carnations provided by Thode Floral were also sold Friday night and placed at Jake's monument. Volunteers with the Play for Jake Foundation and Bolt for the Heart were on hand to help with the fundraising, which West said really paid off for La Porte and New Prairie schools. “We sold over 1,000 carnations and took in over $3,000, so we will be able to get one AED for both schools to use where they see best for. It was an amazing night all around.”


Amazing, indeed. As Friday’s game unfolded, #26 was certainly smiling down on Kiwanis Field. La Porte knocked off heavily-favored New Prairie in dramatic fashion and reclaimed the travelling Milk Jug Trophy for the first time in five years.

The Big Bike Build Coming Sunday

(South Bend, IN) - Bicycling enthusiasts are gearing up for a charity event in South Bend on Sunday.


They’re calling it The Big Build. The challenge is to assemble 35 bikes right out of the box for local school kids. The South Bend Bike Garage, a volunteer-based organization, won a grant to buy the bikes for use at Navarre Middle School on South Bend’s west side. The grant kick starts the Riding for Focus Program, which helps teach kids to get off their phones and get on some bikes. It includes a curriculum for middle school PE classes incorporating bike usage, safety, and maintenance.


On Sunday a team of mechanics are going to assemble all the bikes for the program.


Dustin New is the President of the South Bend Bike Garage. “We have a great network of mechanics that we work with and know from the area,” he said. “We have about ten of them coming.”


They’re also counting on the public to help raise some money to cover additional costs for the program. “We got the bikes for the Riding for Focus Program,” he said, “but there are some other expenses to go along with that.” Sunday’s Big Build will feature food trucks, raffles, even a giveaway of bike helmets for kids sponsored by Beacon Resource Centers. Expert cycling instructors will also be on hand teaching bike safety skills.


The event is taking place at 1441 N. Michigan St. in South Bend. That’s the old St. Joseph High School building on the corner of SR 933 and Angela Blvd. It runs from 2-6 p.m. Central time.


Every Wednesday night the South Bend Bike Garage opens to help people fix their bikes. They run three programs through which you can buy a refurbished bike, donate your time and earn a bike, or learn how to fix your own. Bike donations are also accepted.

Five Injured on Interstate by Runaway Wheel

(Hammond, IN) - Five people, including a teenager, were struck by a runaway wheel on a northwest Indiana interstate.


It happened Tuesday morning on eastbound I-80/94 near Hammond.


According to State Police, a passenger vehicle was parked on the shoulder of the interstate while people were trying to change a flat tire. A semi passing by suddenly lost a rear wheel, which bounced along a barrier wall, eventually striking five people standing around the disabled car.


One of the victims, a 15-year-old male, was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to Chicago with potentially life-threatening injuries. The other four sustained lesser injuries.


Neither drugs nor alcohol was considered to be a factor in the accident, but the semi was impounded for further inspection.

Chicken in Michigan is World's Oldest

(Chelsea, MI) - A chicken in Michigan definitely has something to cackle about.


The bird is the World’s oldest chicken. The chicken named Peanut is 21 years old.


Experts say the average life span for a chicken not heading to market is five to 10 years.


Reports indicate Peanut lives on a chicken farm near Detroit. 


The bird is much like a pet, coming when called and riding in her owner’s coat pocket while she’s doing her chores.


The chicken also loves yogurt.

Settlement in Lawsuit Against Prosecutor

(Hammond, IN) - A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination by La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan.


According to the lawsuit, Nancy Hawkins and Anthony McClintock accused Fagan of firing them from their jobs at the prosecutor’s office for political reasons when he took over in January.


Specifically, both plaintiffs alleged Fagan violated their constitutional right to freedom of speech by letting them go in retaliation for being open supporters of former prosecutor John Lake during the campaign.


McClintock, a retired Michigan City Police officer, also alleged his firing had to do with him finding no evidence of a crime against a man Fagan accused of intimidating him prior to taking office.


McClintock was an investigator for the prosecutor’s office under Lake.


To further their claims the firings were political, the plaintiffs cited an alleged Facebook post by Fagan asserting “some La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office employees will quit and some will be fired,” according to the lawsuit.


The lawsuit was settled August 3 at U.S. District Court in Hammond, according to court records.


So far, the amount of the settlement has not been disclosed but will be publicly available once the governor following procedure stamps his seal of final approval.


Lawsuits against county prosecutors in the state are handled by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office since county prosecutors are employees of the state.


The lawsuit when filed sought no less than $500,000 for each plaintiff. 


Fagan declined an offer for comment.

Charges in Robbery and Chase

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man allegedly committed an armed robbery then later crashed during a high speed chase.


Br’yon Mitchell, 21, is charged with multiple counts in the two separate incidents.


According to court documents, the victim on August 2 picked up Mitchell to take him to Pullman Park at 550 W. 4th St.


After parking his vehicle, police said Mitchell pointed a gun at the victim’s head and demanded money then later threatened to shoot him if he gave any trouble.


The victim returned Mitchell to outside a church on Earl Road where he picked him up.


Eight days later, police were in pursuit of a fleeing vehicle driven by Mitchell, who crashed into a tree after the chase ventured onto Calumet Ave., according to court documents.


Police said a gun was located in the vehicle.


Mitchell broke the law by allegedly having the gun due to prior convictions for crimes such as robbery and dangerous possession of a firearm, according to court documents.

Man Charged with Molesting Girl

(Michigan City, IN) - An elderly Michigan City area man is accused of sexually touching an 11-year old girl.


Daniel Williams, 77, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with two counts of child molesting.


According to court documents, the girl in late June went to the authorities with claims Williams rubbed lotion on her private areas at his home in the 2500 block of Orchard Drive.


The girl said she had a bad case of sunburn and while staying with him for a few days he offered to rub the lotion on her in places she couldn’t reach, according to court documents.


She said he told her “if nobody is going to take care of you, I have to,” court documents revealed.


Eventually, she told authorities Williams began rubbing the lotion in areas that violated her privacy on multiple days. 


Williams could face as much as a 56-year sentence if convicted on both counts.  He was released Tuesday after posting a $10,000 cash bond.


He was ordered not to have contact with the victim while out on bond waiting for the case to be decided.

Virtual Life Sentence in Family Slayings

(MICHIGAN CITY, IN) - A La Porte County man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for killing two members of his family.


Kyle Earley received a 110 year sentence yesterday in La Porte Superior Court 1 in Michigan City. 


A jury found him guilty on two counts of murder.


Last September, Earley fatally stabbed his father and uncle in the family’s home at Michiana Shores.


Evidence shows one of the victims during the attacks was on the phone with his wife.  At some point, he dropped the phone and his wife overheard the bloody acts because the line still open.


Earley was still on the property with blood and the murder weapon on him when police began showing up.   He also had a cut on his hand and scratches on his face. 


Police said Earley was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia prior to the killings and previously threatened his father and uncle in the past.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan gave credit to everyone who was involved with the case for his conviction and lengthy sentence.


“I have a great staff and because we work well with law enforcement we were able to present a compelling case to a jury.   Obviously, we’re happy about the result,” he said.


Earley could have received as much as a 130 year sentence.

Officer Retires But Not Entirely

(La Porte County, IN) - A longtime member of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is retiring from law enforcement but moving to another position at the department.


Sgt. Steve Lestinsky put down his badge on August 6 accepted a position as a civil process server with the sheriff’s office.


In 1993, Lestinsky began with the sheriff’s office as a jail deputy.


He became a patrol officer nearly five years later then was a deputy in the warrants division until promoted in 2015 as supervisor of both patrol and warrants divisions.


His new duties will include civil process and making sure sex and violent offenders are complying with the requirements of the registry.


“I publicly thank Sergeant Lestinsky for his service and sacrifices that he and his family made for the people of La Porte County as a deputy.  We are pleased he has accepted a position as a Civil Process Server and will remain a member of the Sheriff’s Office,” said La Porte County Sheriff Ron Heeg.



Sentencing for Autistic Daughter's Drowning

(Michigan City, IN) - The father of a young autistic girl who drowned after wandering away from home in Michigan City will not serve time in prison.


Andrew Allen, 35, was ordered to spend two years on probation and perform 100 hours of community service under terms of a plea agreement.  He was sentenced August 10 after the guilty plea negotiated by prosecutors and the defense was accepted by La Porte Superior Court 1 Judge Jamie Oss.


Originally, Allen was facing a potential 20 to 40 year sentence when charged in February with level 1 felony neglect of a dependent causing death.  He was convicted of level 6 felony neglect of a dependent.


In his client’s defense, attorney Jesse Harper said research shows autistic children have a tendency to wander away especially toward bodies of water and can be difficult to stop.  Harper also thanked the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office for taking those findings into account in their plea negotiations.


“I have to give really a lot of credit to them for their recognition to what a tragedy it was and to be willing to be open and receptive to the nature of children on the autism spectrum and, frankly, just how incredibly hard it can be to keep those children who do tend to elope from eloping,” he said.  


The girl’s mother, Breanne Smith, 33, is also charged with level 1 felony neglect of a dependent causing death.


Her case has not been decided.


According to court documents, both parents were home when three-year old Ivy Allen went out the back door of the family’s residence at 401 Long Beach Cove just north of U.S. 12 in May of last year.


The girl wound up at nearby Lake Clare where she was found unconscious in the water about 45 minutes after Allen reported his daughter missing.


She was taken to a hospital and later died.


According to court documents, Allen told police he was sleeping when the girl disappeared while Smith claimed she went to a bedroom while Ivy was in the living room watching TV, police said.


Smith said it was about 15 minutes later when she noticed the patio door open.  Emergency responders were called about three hours after the parents failed in their efforts to locate the girl, according to court documents. 


Authorities said there was a history of the girl leaving the home unattended, which drew the attention of the Indiana Department of Child Services.


A few months prior to her death, IDCS gave the parents an alarm system designed to go off when a door opened at their residence.


The alarm was hooked up when the girl walked out.  It didn’t work, though, because the system was not properly installed, police said.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan said the plea agreement was reached because the evidence leans toward the girl’s mother as being more of a factor in the tragic outcome.


He said Allen also helped strengthen the case against Smith by revealing some of the happenings inside the home in the days, weeks and months prior to the girl’s death.


“There’s a lot of elements on the record that were established regarding drug use, timing and responsibility that we felt did not so much point to Mr. Allen,” he said.


In 2016, Smith delivered a baby testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, according to court documents.  Five years later, police said Smith gave birth to another child testing positive for THC and Subutex.


The baby also exhibited signs of withdrawal from Subutex often used to treat heroin and other forms of opiate dependence, authorities said.


About a month after the drowning, police said Allen tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines.  The same drugs along with THC were also found in Smith’s bloodstream, police said.


Allen and Smith have two other young daughters, one with autism and the other with spina bifida.


Currently, Harper said the girls are under the guardianship of Allen’s parents and his client is doing what child welfare authorities expect of him in order to regain custody.


He said Allen will also have to complete any classes or therapy deemed necessary while on probation.

Judge Orders Mining of Sand to Stop

(La Porte County, IN) - A judge has ordered that the mining of sand be stopped in a residential area outside La Porte.


In 2015, D & M Excavating began mining sand at its property on 400 West a few miles north of the city limits. Nearby residents complaining about aspects of the operation, like dust and noise from dump trucks hauling sand, have been appealing ever since for the activity to stop.


At times, the county commissioners issued stop work orders, but this only gave the operation a stop-and-start nature.


Legal action resulted in three separate court hearings to present and hear evidence in the case. Judge Jeffrey Clymer in Porter County upheld the authority of the county commissioners, and ordered the work stopped.


The decision, however, is not final.


The stop work order could be lifted if the court, during a final hearing, rules in favor of the company. The company claims it has a right to mine sand on its property and has permits to do so.


However, the judge said it appears the mining was more on a commercial scale, in an area zoned residential and greater than what the property owner was initially led people to believe. 


D & M Excavating claimed a hole was being dug for a pond for a house that was going to be constructed on the site. In his ruling however, Judge Clymer noted construction of a house never started, though.


“Defendant exceeded the scope of the work” that was to be completed as he described.


Attorney Shaw Friedman, who’s helping to represent county government in the case, said the judge’s ruling speaks for itself in terms of sand mining for profit being in violation of the zoning.


Friedman, who got involved with the dispute when he was the county government attorney, was allowed to continue on with the case by current county government attorney Scott Pejic. He credited a select number of current and past officials such as former commissioner Sheila Matias and former sheriff John Boyd for their assistance with the matter.  


“This case is a great example of what happens when the entire county team rows in one direction and that includes the entire county commission, which at least on this matter has been unified and unwavering in their support of this effort to gain injunctive relief.  We’re very pleased with this decision,” he said.

Storm Causes Power Outages

(La Porte County, IN) - NIPSCO reported about 1,000 customers were left without power in the La Porte and Michigan City areas during a late Thursday morning storm.


According to the NIPSCO website, close to 700 customers at 10 a.m. were still without service in Michigan City and the surrounding area, while more than 350 customers with a La Porte zip code had no power.


The outages were in places near Michigan Boulevard and other locations near Pahs Road and Johnson Road.


Bob Johnson of Michigan City said he was able to travel only about 40 miles per hour on U.S. 20 while driving to South Bend this morning.


“A little white knuckle driving for a while,” he said.


He said it was raining hard enough to cause vehicles to hydroplane in puddles forming on parts of the four lane highway in the outside lane.


Indiana Michigan Power reported just a handful of outages in the Rolling Prairie area.


“It’s a good day to be a duck or stay home,” he said.

Charges in Case of Fake Money and Chase

(La Porte, IN) - A Chicago-area woman has now been charged after having allegedly used counterfeit money at a store in La Porte, before leading police on a high speed chase.


Kierra Gault, 24, bought merchandise at Walmart with fake money nearly two months ago.  Three days later, she purportedly went back to return some of the items so she could get a refund in the form of real cash.


Police were called and wound up chasing her on Lincolnway and Pine Lake Ave. at very high speeds before heading northbound on Indiana 39. The officers quit chasing her, though, when she crossed over the Michigan state line.


Eventually, investigators obtained her address, and later an arrest warrant.


Gault appeared in La Porte Circuit Court for her initial hearing yesterday.  Another hearing in the case is scheduled for next month.

Driver Hurt in Tree Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City woman was injured from driving into a tree yesterday at roughly 7 a.m. on County Road 1000 North near 400 East.


The driver, Ashley McQueen, 32, explained she left the road and struck the tree after losing consciousness, her eastbound SUV coming to rest on its side.


Police said McQueen was taken to the hospital in La Porte with bruises and swelling to her face.


She was driving too fast for the wet road conditions.

Fairgoers Contracted Flu from Pigs in Michigan

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The first cases of humans catching flu from pigs in the U.S. this year both came from Michigan, having previously had an instance last year in Berrien County.


The Center for Disease Control is linking each of the cases to county fairs last month in Oakland County outside Detroit and Tuscola County, in what’s known as the "Thumb" section of the state.


According to the CDC, one of the cases involved a child, who was a fair exhibitor exposed to infected pigs within 10 days of developing symptoms.  Both people were recovering at home after being given anti-viral drugs to treat the influenza.


A human flu infection from a pig is rare but not uncommon. In 2022, Michigan had at least one person come down with flu linked to contact with an infected pig during the Berrien County Youth Fair.


Indiana has not had a confirmed case of flu spreading from pig to human since an outbreak blamed on exposure during county fairs in 2012, per Denise Derrer-Spears, a spokesperson for the Indiana Board of Animal Health.


Derrer-Spears said she wasn’t sure why there have been no confirmed cases ever since, but state guidelines to minimize the chances of flu spreading from pigs to humans and vice-versa were distributed to operators of county fairs statewide following the outbreak.


She explained that the transmission of flu between the species primarily happens at county fairs or pig shows because the animals come from all over and are kept in pens closer to each other than a farm.


Another reason is heavy foot traffic, which is restricted primarily to just family members and workers at farms. Like humans, she said, flu in pigs is spread from contact with airborne particles emitted from sneezing and coughing.  Humans can then become infected by touching a pen or whatever else they come into contact with touched by the airborne particles.


“That makes that transmission of that virus fairly easy to happen especially when there’s a lot of it in a very small space,” she said.


The state guidelines for preventing infection includes not keeping pigs at county fairs or shows in a barn for more than 72 hours to avoid any close-quarters viral build-up. Among the other recommendations are washing hands after having contact with a pig, and not eating or drinking close to the animals so as to avoid any airborne particles making contact with food or drink.


“We tell exhibitors and visitors if they’re sick stay out of the barn.  If an animal is sick leave it home or gets sick at the fair, get it out of there,” Derrer-Spears said.


The symptoms of contracting flu from pigs are similar to instances where it's caught from other human beings. The symptoms are usually mild, but can become severe depending on the health or age of the individual.


“Like seasonal flu, some groups of people are at higher risk of developing serious complications from infections with swine flu viruses,” CDC officials said.


Since 2005, more than 90-percent of the 521 confirmed variant flu infections in the U.S. were from exposure to pigs or attendance at agricultural fairs.

Jail Death Ruled a Drug Overdose

(La Porte County, IN) - A ruling has been made on the cause of a La Porte County Jail inmate's recent death. La Porte County Police said the death was from a drug overdose.


Johnathon Tripp, 42, was pulled over for a traffic violation about three weeks ago and, while stopped, ingested an illegal drug.


He was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and an active warrant out of Elkhart County.  The officer making the arrest, though, did not know he consumed the substance. 


After being taken to the county jail, police said Tripp, several hours later, was discovered in need of emergency medical attention before dying a short time later at the hospital.


The drug overdose ruling was based on the recent findings of an autopsy.


Tripp was from Argos, but previously lived in Niles, Michigan.

Charges in Rubber Check Purchase Attempt

(La Porte, IN) - A man with a history of theft was allegedly caught trying to make a major purchase with a rubber check in La Porte.


Koffi Gbetoudor, 31, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 felony Fraud.


The Mishawaka man in April went to K Tool & Fire on Ohio Street, wanting to purchase a Badboy brand zero-turn lawnmower. There, he allegedly wrote a $4,000 check to make the purchase and requested the lawn mower be shipped to his address.


However, after he left the store, the dealership owner called the customer’s bank and was told not to accept the check because of insufficient funds in the suspect’s account. The order was immediately cancelled.


According to court documents, Gbetoudor had active warrants at the time for fraud and theft-related cases out of St. Joseph and Marshall counties, as well  as a prior conviction in 2018 for fraud in the former.


Gbetoudor could face as much as a 30-month prison sentence on the allegations in La Porte.

Ride Today for Medic Killed in Crash

(Starke County, IN) - A Starke County EMT will be remembered during a Rose Ride this afternoon.


Organizers are welcoming all riders and bikers to help honor Michael Wilcox, who was killed in a crash while responding to a call earlier this month.


Riders are expected to line up at Tierney Park in San Pierre at 4:30 p.m. with the ride slated to start at 5:45 p.m. The act of rememberance wil end at Starke County EMS Station #3, where a memorial ambulance will be parked outside for riders to leave a rose.


Organizers are asking people to bring their own roses and a $5 donation. The donations are not required to participate, but will be given to Wilcox's family at the end of the ride.

Strike by Nursing Home Workers Possible

(La Porte, IN) - Some healthcare workers in La Porte could go on strike.


The employees at Terrace Care Center Nursing Home at 1900 Andrew Avenue recently rejected a contract proposal from the organization.


Workers, like certified nurse aides, are members of Teamsters Local 135.  Among their concerns is what they described as the company’s low quality-but-high cost health program.


Teamsters Local 135 wants to resume the talks to try and avoid a strike.

Healthcare Foundation Highlights Successes

(La Porte, IN) - The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte has released its 2022 "Report to the Community."


The report is a review of the grants awarded, projects funded and collective progress made by HFL community partners and nonprofit organizations.


According to HFL officials, the annual report is a testament to its commitment to transparency and dedication to highlighting the stories shaping the path to a healthier community. 


The 2022 Report to the Community offers a look into the strategic priorities and initiatives HFL supports, as well as partner milestones that defined the year. 


Highlights include the hard work of councils like Partners for Healthier Babies, notably the momentous creation of La Porte County’s Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR), thanks to the La Porte County Health Department, and the first Infant Safe Sleep Kick-off Event held at HFL Conference & Learning Center.  


Other highlights in the report include mental health prevention and support programming to La Porte County schools. 


"This report is a testament to the strength of our community and the collaborative efforts that drive positive change. As we reflect on the past year's accomplishments, we are energized to continue working together to empower La Porte County residents to live healthy and well," said HFL President and CEO Maria Fruth. 


The report is available for download at https://www.hflaporte.org/post/hfl-2022-report-to-the-community. 


Decison Nears on Housing for Homeless Plan

(La Porte, IN) - There are plans to convert an old Coca Cola bottling plant in LaPorte into low income housing for the homeless, with services designed to keep them off the streets.


Housing Opportunities, a Valparaiso-based non-profit organization, is behind the $7.5 million proposal that would be paid for almost entirely with a state grant.


The organization, with help from outside sources of funding, has also developed similar housing for people with extremely low incomes in other communities like Michigan City, Valparaiso and Portage, per Housing Opportunities Executive Chief Executive Officer Jim Stanfill.


Stanfill said there would be 16 one and two-bedroom units with monthly rent covering utilities and Wi-Fi, based on 30 percent of an individual’s gross income.

The rent would be subsidized with separate, ongoing grants from the state.


To qualify, he said applicants must first be “exiting the homeless system.”


They must also have a diagnosed physical or chronic health-related disability, or issues with mental health and substance abuse.


Stanfill said a small clinic addressing behavioral issues and other matters would be provided in-house by HealthLinc for residents and the general public.


Help in areas like job placement and training would also be offered to residents depending on the individual needs of the tenants.


Other amenities would include an exercise room and space for activities like cooking demonstrations.  On average, Stanfill said residents at other similar units run by the organization stay for about five-years.


“It’s not transient.  It’s not short term.  It’s not a shelter,” he said.


Stanfill said former residents, because of the affordability of the homes and easy access to services “almost always,” transitioned to other homes they rent or own, if not moved in with family members.


“It’s an extreme rare case when we have someone exit negatively in this type of housing,” he said.


Stanfill said replacing the roof of the brick structure at 205 Rumely Street is included in the renovation plans, now designed to give the exterior more of a residential look in what is essentially a single family home neighborhood.


The city obtained the structure last year as part of a land swap with the La Porte Community School Corporation.  As part of the deal, the school district was given land for constructing a new bus garage. Until recently, the school district used the former bottling plant to house its child nutrition, technology and maintenance departments.


Mayor Tom Dermody said ownership of the building will be transferred to the organization at no cost if the proposal is given final approval Monday by the LaPorte City Council.


The impact such a facility might have on safety in the neighborhood and property values were among the concerns expressed by number of nearby residents at the previous city council meeting on August 7th.


“What-ifs with no guarantees is a big risk and a very sad one.  A very scary one also,” said Aurelio Melgoza, who lives across the street.


Tammy Lawrence said she likes the idea for such a housing facility but feels it should go elsewhere.  Lawrence said she’s especially worried about the safety of children and senior citizens.


“I don’t want to see the dynamics of the neighborhood change. We’re single families.  It basically comes down to fear of the unknown,” she said.


Dermody said the benefits would include helping people in need, as well as breathing new life into a building that could become an eyesore, if not a magnet for potential drug activity or squatting if left abandoned over time in a neighborhood already having problems with crime.


He also said background checks would be part of the selection process to minimize any risk tenants might pose.


“I know what the belief is without facts. Code enforcement and the police will do whatever the neighbors need to make sure they feel comfortable,” he said.

Jail Possible for Squealing Tires

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police cited a 20-year-old driver for squealing the tires on his pick-up truck.


Tanner Goodwin, 20, of Wanatah was given a summons to appear in court on a charge of Reckless Driving.


According to police, an officer at roughly 5:30 p.m. on Sunday reacted to the sound of an engine revving and tires squealing at Indiana 8 and U.S. 421. A large plume of black smoke, thick enough to impair the vision of any oncoming motorists or pedestrians, was spurred by the rubber from the tires being laid on the pavement.


During a traffic stop, Goodwin said he was trying to show off to people at a car show near the intersection. Goodwin also apologized, and recognized his actions behind the wheel as dangerous.


The plume of smoke lingered for more than a minute and completely covered the area surrounding a flashing red traffic signal light at the intersection.


Goodwin is scheduled to appear in La Porte Superior Court 3 on the charge August 18th, where he could face an up-to-60 day jail sentence and a maximum $500 fine.

Drowning Victim Identified

(Berrien County, MI) - The identity of a man who drowned in Lake Michigan has been released.


The victim, 38-year-old Luis Sifuentes, was from Bensenville, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.


Police said he and two other men began struggling in the choppy water Sunday afternoon at Warren Dunes State Park near Sawyer, Michigan.


They were past the buoys.


One of the men was able to get to shore while another man was helped out of the water and taken to a local hospital. Sifuentes was found beneath the surface about 15 minutes later, and failed to respond to CPR.


Initially, the water was calm, but had waves of two to three feet at the time of the drowning.

Candidate Vows Not to be Rubber Stamp

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman is vying for a seat on the city council.


Kim Glanders Noë declared her candidacy for La Porte City Council-At-Large on a pledge of accountability, integrity and responsibility to promote the city while also providing checks and balances on city leadership.


The 1979 La Porte High School graduate said her past experience as a local business owner and her current positions with the city and school corporation provide a unique perspective currently missing from this administration.


"We need city council members who will support the administration when it is warranted, and also be prepared to challenge the administration when needed. Our current city council votes with the mayor 98% of the time. That's not a balanced system," she said.


Under the current administration, Noe said the city has seen improvements for new business development and upgrades to streets, sidewalks and trails. However, she said accountability in areas like fiscal transparency have been lacking.


Noe, a democrat, said she would also challenge controversial items such as the annexation of the 39 North Conservancy District and plans for a $180 million bypass.


“I do not believe we are on the right track with these initiatives,” she said.


Noë is the previous owner of Jazzercise Center on Franklin Street in Michigan City and founder of Rogue Xtrme Fitness also in Michigan City.


She has also worked in the finance department of Swanson Center and is a former director of the American Red Cross of LaPorte County.  Currently, Noë is a school bus driver for La Porte Community Schools and is also employed by La Porte Parks and Recreation Department.


“I feel that a good city council person should be an independent voice. This Council should be a separate branch of local government that provides the financial oversight of this city. I believe that we can disagree and do so amicably and with civility, and if elected, I will be a voice for the people of La Porte,” she said.

U.S. Steel Buyout Offered

(Gary, IN) - Northwest Indiana could be without U.S. Steel.


The steel giant has turned down an offer from Cleveland Cliffs, another major steelmaker in Burns Harbor.


Reports indicate U.S. Steel did not ask for the offer but could be considering it or at least a partial buyout.


The offer was for 7.3 billion dollars.


Cleveland Cliffs officials said an acquisition or consolidation would mean steel produced at a lower cost and other positives to position the company better for the future.


The U.S. Steel plant in Gary has been there for more than 120 years.


Congressman Frank Mrvan of Highland, whose district includes Michigan City, is reportedly monitoring the situation.

State Highway Closure Scheduled

(La Porte County, IN) - A local state highway will be closed soon for repairs.


According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad plans to close their railroad crossing on Indiana 8 in La Crosse between Daisy St. and Livingston St. beginning on or after August 21st. 


The two lane highway will be closed for approximately five days in this location while CKIN rebuilds their at-grade crossing.


Motorists are advised to seek an alternate route while the work is occurring. The official detour will follow Indiana 39, U.S. 30 and U.S. 421. 

Beer Can Hurling Driver Arrested

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police say a suspected drunk driver tossed a full can of beer out of his car window before being stopped yesterday.


At about 4:30 a.m., police were called to the Speedway in the area of U.S. 20 and U.S. 35, where an allegedly-drunken man had just left the gas station.


Soon, police, with a description of the vehicle, spotted the suspect westbound on Interstate 94. The officer was following when a 16-ounce can of beer came flying out the car window and splashed onto the pavement.


The driver soon pulled over, the officer on the scene spotting another 16-ounce can of beer inside a cup holder beside the driver's seat. 


53-year-old Keith Tunis was arrested with an alleged blood alcohol level close to two times the legal limit. The Hammond man admitted to drinking about a six pack of the 16 ounce beverages. 

Lake Michigan Claims Another Victim

(Berrien County, MI) - Another person drowned in Lake Michigan yesterday.


According to authorities, rescuers were called to Warren Dunes State Park near Sawyer, Michigan on a report of three people struggling in the water.


One person made it out safely, while a second individual was taken to a local hospital. The third person was located underneath the water during about a 15-minute search. CPR was applied, but he later died.


All three of the individuals were males from Illinois. They were among the people outside the designated swim area despite verbal warnings not to go past the buoys.


So far, further details have not yet been provided.

Local "Hoosiers" Actor Passes Away

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Acclaimed actor and La Porte County resident Robert Swan has passed away.


Swan made quite an impact on stage and screen and behind the mic.  He was known far and wide in the entertainment industry, though maybe least of all in his own home town—Rolling Prairie, Indiana.


Swan was an actor, award-winning screenwriter, producer, voiceover legend, operatic bass-baritone, and founder of Harbor Country Opera.


You can spot him in some classic films. He’s the humble dad and assistant coach in Hoosiers. He played a priest in Rudy. And he was the Canadian Mountie in The Untouchables. Swan was in many other movies and tv shows. In a decades-long career, Swan worked with Gene Hackman, Jane Fonda, Ron Howard, Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone, even Madonna. 


Swan passed away at the age of 78. He died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Wednesday, August 9 at his home in Rolling Prairie after a prolonged battle with cancer.

History Museum Unveils New Artifact and Traveling Exhibit

(La Porte, IN) - A restored stained glass window from the old Holy Family Hospital is now on display in the museum.


Holy Family Hospital was founded in 1900 by nuns of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. It was the first hospital in La Porte. The window was refurbished by the Thaddeus C. Gallery, with the support of the local Questers group and Dr. M. Barbara Backer.


And a new traveling exhibit is now also on display. The exhibit highlights the Latino experiences in Indiana. It’s on loan from the Indiana Historical Society until September 14. 

Big Payday at Blue Chip

(Michigan City, IN) - A lucky gambler turned a $10 bet into over a quarter of a million dollars.


Michigan City's Blue Chip Casino reported the win Friday afternoon. The casino said a guest earlier in the week hit it big on a slot called "Red, White &Blue." The final payout was $287,030.


The jackpot continues a string of sizable wins this summer at Blue Chip. Over $225,000 was payed out to ten different people in July.

Hoosier Medicaid Data Breach

(Indianapolis, IN) - If you’re a Hoosier Medicaid recipient, you may have had your personal information compromised.


On Friday afternoon the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced that software used by a contractor was breached, exposing the personal information of over 744,000 Hoosiers.


Info such as names, addresses, case numbers and Medicaid numbers were exposed by an app called MOVIEit used by Maximus Health Services. According to a press release, Social Security numbers of a few Medicaid members were impacted as well.


The government says the breach occurred in May, affecting companies and organizations worldwide, not just the FSSA.


Maximus is contacting all Medicaid members affected with information and options for credit monitoring.


For questions or further information, FSSA provided the following toll-free number: 1-833-919-4749.

Yoder Pleads Guilty in Judah Morgan's Death

(La Porte, IN) - Friday was a big day for the many people seeking Justice for little Judah Morgan.


Judah’s mother Mary Yoder appeared in La Porte Circuit court Friday morning. Court records indicate a motion to accept a plea agreement was entered on her behalf.


Yoder was facing two felony charges and two misdemeanors related to the neglect and death of her 4-year-old son in October of 2021.


According to La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan, Yoder agreed to a guilty plea in two felonies: Level 1 Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Death and Level 5 Domestic Battery.


A jury trial had been scheduled for next month, but that will be cancelled due to Yoder’s guilty plea. An argued sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 1. Fagan said the maximum prison sentence for both counts is over 40 years, and he hopes to get as close to that as possible.


“We’re just glad that justice has been served for little Judah Morgan,” Fagan said. “It’s been a long couple of years, but finally with this plea agreement, we’re glad that we can serve justice on Judah’s behalf and that those responsible for his death are where they belong.”


Yoder’s husband Alan Morgan has already been sentenced to 70 years in prison.

Voting Centers Pass Final Vote

(La Porte County, IN) - From now on, La Porte County will conduct its elections using voting centers.


The County Election Board voted to approve the change. Instead of being confined to a precinct location, voters will be able to vote anywhere in the county, at one of 38 locations.


After Wednesday's Election Board meeting, County Clerk Heather Stevens said she appreciated the cooperation of everyone involved, from the public and local media, to those in politics. "There was no bickering," she said. "Everyone's on the same page." The proposal was agreed to unanimously among party leaders, the County Council, Commissioners, and Election Board.


60 out of 92 Indiana counties have already gone to voting centers. State law requires one voting center per 10,000 voters. La Porte County’s initial setup with far exceed that. It should go into effect in the next election.

Yakym Sees Hope in La Porte Manufacturing

(La Porte, IN) - 2nd District Congressman Rudy Yakym was in La Porte this week touring a local manufacturing company.


It was one of the first stops on his “Make It, Grow It, Move It” tour, which highlights manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation projects in all eleven counties in the district.


On Monday Yakym and his staff started in Winamac, went to Knox, then ended the day at American Renolit, a manufacturer that produces plastic films on La Porte’s east side.


“Renolit is a company that’s growing here in La Porte,” Yakym told HTNN following a tour of the facility.


“They’re adding jobs and paying good wages. We wanted to highlight manufacturing in the 2nd Congressional District that is growing and expanding, and they’re clearly doing that.”


Yakym highlighted a recent expansion. “They made a $27 million investment in a new machine to really help grow their business here and add good, high-paying jobs,” he said. “We want to commend them for their work here in La Porte.” Renolit president Nils Dietz said Renolit has hired upwards of 30 new employees to support the new machine.


Yakym’s business tour offers a ray of hope for American manufacturing. “There are so many things that we used to make here in the United States that have been pushed offshore and overseas,” Yakym said. “There’s a lot of great leaders here in this community, right here in LaPorte, that are committed to bringing some of that manufacturing back.” La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody and city economic development leaders also took part in the visit.


Yakym said the key element is a dedicated workforce. “They’re willing to make investments right here in this community because of the people that live here that are willing to show up and go to work. They run 24/7 shifts here, which I think is quite impressive.”

La Porte Ready for Downtown Luau

(La Porte, IN) - Get out your best Hawaiian shirt and flip flops and head to downtown La Porte Friday for Cheeseburger in Paradise!


City of La Porte Communications Director Jessica Bruder tells you what you’re in store for.


"Essentially what we're throwing is a big summer luau in downtown La Porte," she said.


"I think it's a great opportunity for people to come out an celebrate one of the last weekends of summer."


Tourist garb and Haiwaiian shirts are encouraged. In addition to various artisan vendors and a beer garden, a live band will be playing. Cabanarama covers everything from Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley to Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney.


The highlight of the evening, of course, is the best cheeseburger competition. "We've got the local vendors going head-to-head for the title of 'Best Cheeseburger,'" said Bruder. "We've got a panel of judges that have been hand-selected." Six local vendors are vying for the title. Digzy Dogz will be back to defend last year’s championship.


Cheeseburger in Paradise takes place Friday, August 11th on downtown Monroe St., also known as La Stitch. It runs from 6-10 p.m.

Lotto Winner in Rolling Prairie

(Indianapolis, IN) - The record $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot drawn Tuesday night seems to be claimed. The winning ticket was sold in Neptune Beach, Florida.


However, a few people in this area came pretty close, and cashed in as well.


The Hoosier Lottery says three tickets sold in northern Indiana matched four out of five numbers and the Mega Ball. One of the winning tickets was sold at the Family Express in Rolling Prairie. The others were sold in Warsaw and a gas station on the south side of South Bend.


The winners' identities have not been released, but whoever it is, they are $10,000 richer.


In case you're wondering, the odds of matching four out of five balls and the Mega Ball are 1 in 931,001. Mega Millions jackpot odds are 1 in 302,575,350.

Lilly Scholar Applications Now Open

(Michigan City, IN) - Applications are now being accepted for a prestigious statewide college scholarship.


Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships are offered to two La Porte County students each year. The scholarship covers four-year, full tuition to any accredited Indiana college or university, with an annual stipend for required books and equipment.


The scholarship is handled locally by the Unity Foundation.


"A selection committee, comprised of volunteers from throughout the county, will seek to recommend the two most outstanding La Porte County students among those who apply,” said Shannon Walker, Unity Foundation Vice President. Applications will be evaluated based on academic achievement, demonstrated service to others, leadership ability, commitment and motivation to succeed, and to a lesser extent, financial need. Based on local recommendations, the Independent Colleges of Indiana, will make the final selection.


The application period opened yesterday on the Unity Foundation website and will close September 8th.


Over the past 25 years, 72 La Porte County students have benefitted from this program, totaling more than $4.8 million. “We are proud of the academic and professional success of all our Lilly Endowment Community Scholars. We are especially proud of those who have returned to the area as adults and are now giving back to La Porte County in a variety of ways,” said Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation President.

One Airlifted Following Crash on 421

(La Porte County, IN) - A teenage driver who was in the right place at the wrong time was airlifted to the hospital following an accident on US 421.


It happened Monday afternoon around 1:00 pm on US 421 near the Indiana Tollway. According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department, a northbound Toyota Yaris was waiting to make a left turn into the tollway entrance when it was rear-ended by a semi.


The driver of the semi, 55-year-old Joe Fowler of Valparaiso, told police his brakes locked up when he tried to stop. As Fowler tried to regain control of the semi, it veered into the oncoming lane, where it struck a southbound Nissan Rogue driven by 19-year-old Michaela Rush.


Rush was conscious at the scene, but was airlifted to South Bend Memorial for treatment of injuries. The two elderly occupants of the Yaris were unhurt.


A witness driving behind the semi told police he thought the truck began stopping too late to avoid a collision.

Update on Old Hospital Fire

(La Porte, IN) - Many people were wondering what was happening at the old La Porte Hospital Tuesday morning, as smoke billowed from one of the top floors.


It’s not every day you see a high-rise fire in La Porte.


After all the excitement, Battalion Chief Chase Robowski provided HTNN with details. He said a demolition worker, using a torch to cut pipe, generated sparks that caught the contents of a room on fire. The fire was not extensive, he said, but its location made it tricky to extinguish.


"They had removed some of the sprinkler systems in that building," said Robowski, "so we had to use the tower to run line up the ladder and through a window on the seventh floor and down the hall to get water to the fire." Robowski said the demolition supervisor on site was very helpful in directing firefighters to the blaze.


Robowski said the fire was limited to leftover furniture, cabinets, and debris left in the hospital, which workers are still in the process of removing. 


Robokowski said three fire engines were also dispatched to the scene for extra help and out of an abundance of caution. "We needed the manpower," he said, "because you never know, with a building that size, what's going on. So we wanted to surround it and make sure we had a fire truck at each side in case something was not what it appeared to be." 


Fire crews were on on-scene for about three hours, but the fire itself was put out quickly. There were no injuries.

Bags are Packed for Giveaway on Thursday

(La Porte, IN) - Thursday is the back-to-school rally for La Porte School Corporation students.


Carey Garwood, with Bethany Lutheran Church, is one of the organizers. "This is huge, tons of vendors come," she said. "They give away items for kids to go back to school, fully stocked and all free. The food is free from Domino's Pizza. Bethany Church does some water and snacks." American Licorice provides the fully-stuffed backpacks for La Porte students of all ages.


Other sponsors include La Porte Community Federal Credit Union, HealthLink, Surf Internet, Kabelin Rental, and the Kiwanis Club of La Porte. Rock 106.5 will be broadcasting live from the event.


The giveaway will take place at La Porte High School’s Tenth Street Field. The event is open to everyone from 3-5 pm. If you pre-register, you can get in at 2 pm.


Children must be present to pick up a backpack. Organizers are expecting a turnout of about 2,000 kids.


You can beat the crowds by pre-registering at rocktheblocklaporte.com

Support Rallied for Families of EMTs Involved in Accident

(Starke County, IN) - GoFundMe accounts have been set up for the families of two Starke County paramedics who were involved in a tragic accident over the weekend.


While responding to a call south of Bass Lake on Saturday, a Starke County ambulance driven by Michael Wilcox Sr. was hit by a car at a rural intersection. The ambulance rolled onto its side, killing Wilcox. His partner EMT Brandy Salita was seriously injured. Salita was taken to Northwest Health in La Porte, then transformed to South Bend. She suffered a deep head laceration and three broken vertebrae in her neck.


According to family, Salita is a single mother of three who is just about to finish nursing school. She will be out of work a minimum of three months while she recuperates.


Wilcox was a lifelong Starke County resident of Starke County who dedicated much of his time to serving the county as EMT, firefighter, posse member, and reserve officer. He leaves behind a wife and two grown children.


Visit the Wilcox GoFundMe page HERE.

Visit the Salita GoFundMe page HERE.

Michigan City Teachers Eligible for Local Grants

(La Porte County, IN) - Unity Foundation of La Porte County is inviting Michigan City area teachers to apply for education grants. Unity Foundation manages three grant programs aimed at improving the quality of education in Michigan City.


The Michigan City Education Foundation (MCEF) makes grants of up to $500 for teachers at public and parochial K-8 schools in Michigan City. Teachers may use their grants for hands-on or virtual activities in any academic area or life skills. The Barbara A. Carmen Memorial Endowment Fund makes grants of up to $400 for items that will enrich curriculum or enhance a teacher’s ability to meet student needs. Both programs accept proposals from educators at the following schools: Barker Middle School, Coolspring Elementary, Edgewood Elementary, Joy Elementary, Knapp Elementary, Krueger Middle School, Lake Hills STEM Magnet Elementary, Marsh Elementary, Notre Dame Catholic School, Pine Fine Arts Magnet Elementary, Queen of All Saints Catholic School, Springfield Elementary and St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic School.


The Teacher Innovation Fund is a small grant program for Michigan City High School and La Porte County Career and Technical Education/A.K. Smith Career Center teachers and professionals. It is designed to support educational professionals as they strive to reach their students. Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins, MCAS Superintendent, and former Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie provided the idea and the seed money from their own personal funds. Grants can be used to purchase equipment, supplies, tools for special programs or for ideas to enrich curriculum and enhance each professional’s ability to meet his/her students’ needs. Each grant applicant may request up to $400.


Together the programs have invested in more than 1,000 educators at Michigan City public and private schools since the mid-1990s.


For more information on Unity’s teacher grant programs or to help build these teacher support funds, visit uflc.net or contact Lauren Varga at (219) 879-0327 or lvarga@uflc.net. To apply for a grant, visit uflc.net/grants/teacher-grants. The application deadline is September 10th, 2023.

Fire at Old La Porte Hospital

(La Porte, IN) - On Tuesday morning smoke billowed from one of the upper floors of the old La Porte Hospital building, which is currently undergoing demolition.


La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody was at the scene as the small fire was being put out by the La Porte Fire Department. He said a small torch was being used by a worker with the demolition company when something caught fire. According to La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder, such occurences are not uncommon in large demolition projects.


Firefighters had the situation under control within an hour. No injuries were reported.

Police Investigate Ticking Package Near Pinola

(La Porte County, IN) - An Unidentified Falling Object was investigated by La Porte County Sheriff’s Department early last week.


Last Tuesday evening a strange-looking box was reported to authorities on CR 100 South, about two miles west of Pinola. There was a white Styrofoam box in the roadway, with a long string and a parachute or balloon reaching high into the trees above. Duct-taped to it was a small blue box with "iMet-4RSB" marked on it.


And it was ticking.


Officers contacted bomb experts from Porter County Sheriff's Office Explosive Disposal Unit, who said they had responded the previous day to a similar call near the town of Porter.


Authorities determined the apparatus to be a weather balloon launched by NASA somewhere in Michigan to study atmosphere and ozone.


The Sheriff’s Department is keeping the contraption in an evidence locker until NASA comes to claim it.

Groups Partner to Support Music Instruction

(Three Oaks, MI) - An organizational duet is collaborating to provide opportunities for northwest Indiana music students.


The School of American Music in Three Oaks, Michigan is a popular destination for aspiring musicians. The school vows to keep tuition low, if not free, by offering scholarships. But sometimes applicants from Indiana don’t qualify because they’re from out of state. Two area organizations have stepped up to fix that problem.


The La Porte Service League is now processing tuition assistance for northwest Indiana youth who want to learn at the School of American Music. Since its founding in 1932, LaPorte Service League has supported arts, culture and education projects with programming and scholarships. School of American Music Executive Director Donna M. Mitchell is thankful for the partnership. “We are proud to be able to make connections," she said, "which will ensure that the mission of both School of American Music and LaPorte Service League are lived out in real time and service.”


Service League is teaming up with Drew’s Gift of Music, another area music not-for-profit, which provides instruments for young musicians and music programs. Check Steck is the group's local contact. “The partnership SAM has established with LaPorte Service League," he said, "provides the missing link we need to ensure that we can service music students of all ages and all locations in our region regardless of economic restraints.”


To take advantage of the “border-free” tuition promise, follow these steps:

1. Apply for music instruction at https://www.schoolofamericanmusic.com/      
2. NW Indiana residents apply at LaPorte Service League    https://www.laporteserviceleague.com/
3. For more about Drew’s Gift of Music: https://www.drewsgiftofmusic.com/

Officer Honored for OWI Enforcement

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City Police Officer was recently honored for his efforts in pulling over drunk drivers.


Officer Daniel Revoir was recognized as an Indiana Traffic Safety All Star by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The award is given to officers who go above and beyond in combating drunk driving.  Officer Revoir made 26 OWI arrests last year and participated in several enhanced enforcement campaigns.


He was one of 83 officers recognized downstate by Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.


Sharing Good Times for a Good Cause

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - The Share Foundation’s 29th annual Leprechaun Hunt happened Sunday in Rolling Prairie. Thousands of people came out to enjoy the organization’s big fundraiser.


Nichole Blake is the new Director of Events at Sharing Meadows. She was thrilled with the response this year. People were lining up to get in over an hour before the event opened. “It’s a wonderful turnout,” she said. “I’ve poured the beer for the past ten years, so I’ve always seen it from that end. As soon as they opened the gates, it was like the flood gates were opened, and I’ve never seen that before, so that was really neat to see.”


Last year’s Leprechaun Hunt was affected a bit by rain, and the two years prior to that saw the event shut down due to the pandemic. This year the event added a magician and an animal safari demonstration. Over 2,200 tickets were sold, and, with a little luck of the Irish, the rains held off.


Sharing Meadows serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities ranging from autism to traumatic brain injury. 28 residents currently live there.


One of those villagers is ever-so-friendly Mary McKenna. “I’ve been here eight years,” McKenna said, while wearing a festive green sequined bow. “I tell you what, I had no friends before I moved here, and I just enjoy it and love it.” McKenna came to Sharing Meadows from Michigan.


The Share Foundation was started by Fr. Dennis Blaney, who attended Sunday’s event. The popular leprechauns were his idea. “I still come out here fairly often,” Fr. Blaney said, munching on his favorite, famous Philippe Joseph ribs. “I enjoy the people that are living here, and they enjoy me.”  Fr. Blaney has been a priest for 65 years and celebrates his 91st birthday this month.

Paramedic Killed in Rural Collision

(Starke County, IN) - A tragic accident in Starke County claimed the life of a paramedic Saturday afternoon.


En route to a call around 3:20 p.m., a Starke County ambulance was struck by a car at a rural intersection just south of Bass Lake. Police say the ambulance had its emergency lights and siren activated as it drove eastbound on CR 800 S. A Hyundai sedan driven by Eva Horan entered the intersection from northbound CR 700 E. colliding with the side of the ambulance. The ambulance rolled onto its side. Paramedic Michael Wilcox was declared dead at the scene. Another paramedic, Brandy Salita, was taken to Northwest Hospital in La Porte in serious condition. Horan suffered minor injuries.


Starke County first responders wasted no time honoring their fallen colleague. They organized a procession along US-35 to accompany Wilcox's body to the Coroner’s Office.

State Road 2 Closure

(Porter County, IN) - State Road 2 between Westville and Valparaiso will be closed for an extended period of time starting on or after Monday, August 7.


INDOT says a small structure replacement will be taking place near CR 400 East in Porter County. That work is expected to last through November.


INDOT recommends motorists take U.S. 6 west to SR 49 as an alternate route.

Michigan City Prison on the Chopping Block

(Indianapolis, IN) - On Friday plans to shut down the prison in Michigan City were hashed out downstate.


Members of the Indiana Department of Corrections met with the State Budget Committee to pitch the idea of consolidating the prison in Michigan City with new facilities about to begin construction in Westville.


IDOC Commissioner Christina Reagle explained the cost savings to legislators. “It’s outdated, like Westville is,” she said, “and it doesn’t come without emergency repairs on an annual basis, totaling about one to two million dollars a year. We have more than $380 million in planned capital at that site, and the annual operating is approximately $45 million.” Reagle said the savings of annual operating costs alone would pay off within twenty years, in addition to $400 million saved by not making needed improvements at the antiquated Michigan City facility.


She said the decision took into account not only the State Prison’s poor condition, but declining or static prison population numbers statewide. The number of prisoners at Westville has been declining, Reagle said, due to policy changes that shorten inmates’ time there. By reshuffling some inmates, the populations of both prisons will be able to fit at Westville, where the new facilities will be built to maximum security specifications.


Budget Committee Chairman Jeff Thompson toured the State Prison recently and said he agreed with the proposal. “Once I got behind the scenes, up in the State Prison,” he said, “and saw with my own eyes what the structure looked like—150 or 160 years old—it convinced me [consolidation] was the thing to do.”


The Department of Corrections initially sought $400 million for the Westville project in 2021, then added another $800 million this year. Part of the increase was caused by inflation, and part owed to an expansion of the project’s scope. The plan is for a new 1.4 million-square-foot, 4,200-bed facility right next to the current one in Westville. Reagle said the IDOC got the idea of consolidating the prisons sometime during the legislative process this summer.


There was some pushback from committee members. Representative Ed Delaney seemed to suggest a bait-and-switch had taken place, when the monetary request went from $400 million to $1.2 billion.  “I was on the Ways and Means Committee," he said, "and I don’t remember being advised that we were suddenly talking about two prisons rather than one prison. When did this conversation change?” Thompson interjected that, during the legislative process, he pushed to have the language of the appropriation bill broadened from a Westville-only project to something that could include consolidation.


As surprised as some legislators seemed by the request, Commissioner Reagle noted, “This isn’t a new topic by any means. The closing of the Indiana State Prison is something that the locals have been pushing for a long time.” Reagle told the committee that her department has consulted with local constituents. “Actually, when we made this decision,” she said, “I cancelled a vacation and went up and talked with all the staff at the State Prison on their Family Day and let them know.”


416 people are currently employed by the prison. One of the key factors in the decision, Reagle said, was the short 15-mile distance between the two facilities. IDOC does not anticipate any lost jobs in the switch.


The State Prison in Michigan City was built the year before Abraham Lincoln became President. It will remain open for another few years while the new facility in Westville is under construction.

Good Samaritans Lend a Hand in Interstate Accident

(Crown Point, IN) - An accident on I-65 Thursday afternoon resulted in a serious injury for one driver, which could have been worse if not for the help of Good Samaritans.


It happened on 64 a couple of miles south of US 30 near Crown Point. According to police, 25-year-old Austin Slivka of Lake Station rear-ended another car at a high rate of speed. The collision caused a chain reaction involving two other vehicles. None of the other motorists was hurt, but Slivka was partially ejected from his vehicle.


Slivka’s left arm was badly lacerated and bleeding profusely. According to State Police, two people who were at the scene immediately applied tourniquets to stop the bleeding. They were later identified as Kevin Kohn of St. Augustine, Florida and Charles Hilltunen of Indianapolis. A State Trooper arrived to help stabilize Slivka until paramedics transported him to a Crown Point hospital.


Northbound traffic on I-65 was stopped for about an hour for a crash investigation.

Ordinance Violation Leads To Criminal Charges

(Westville, IN) - Some confusion about door-to-door solicitation in Westville led to an arrest of a Mishawaka woman.


On Monday, police in Westville were notified about solicitors who were canvassing the area of New Durham Estates Avenue representing an energy company from Illinois. Residents were concerned that something fraudulent may be taking place.


A police officer encountered two females and asked if they had a proper license from Westville Town Hall to solicit business. One of them, 21-year-old Akayhla Dixon, allegedly refused to provide identification as required by Indiana law.


After being advised she would be placed under arrest for Failure to Identify, Dixon allegedly physically resisted the officer.


Dixon was booked into La Porte County Jail on two Misdemeanor charges. Police say Dixon resides in Mishawaka, but court records place her in Lombard, IL.


According to the Westville Police:

“It was eventually determined that the solicitors are employed by a legitimate company and there was no attempt to defraud Westville residents. Solicitors are required by Ordinance 2007-2 to register with the Town Hall and receive a Transient Merchant License to solicit business from the residents of the Town of Westville. This enables the residents to be notified of legitimate solicitors in the area and help protect the residents from fraudulent merchants and/or scams. Anyone soliciting business in the town limits should be able to produce the license approved and signed by the Town Marshal if requested.”

High School Golf Tees Up Another Season

(La Porte County, IN) - High school golf season has already started, and area-girl golfers are getting back into the swing of things.


Michigan City hosted an invitational tournament for county girls’ golf teams earlier this week.


La Porte won the tournament, with New Prairie finishing just a few strokes behind. Marquette, Michigan City, South Central rounded out the field. Kamryn Kubik led all golfers, shooting a 69. New Prairie’s Jayden Flagg took 2nd place overall with a 72.


La Porte and New Prairie finished 3rd and 5th respectively at the Plymouth Invitational the following day.

The Lady Slicers will travel to Sandy Pines on Monday for the Kankakee Invitational.

Crash A Warning for Careless Drivers

(Lake County, IN) - Highway authorities are reminding motorists to be extra cautious in work zones, as a scary close call took place in Lake County earlier this week.


According to the Department of Transportation, a driver on I-94 went around a barricade into a closed lane. For unknown reasons, the vehicle smashed into the back of an INDOT maintenance truck. Luckily, there were no injuries.


By law, drivers are required to approach emergency vehicles, which includes road maintenance vehicles cautiously. Drivers are required to change lanes away from emergency vehicles, or reduce speed to 10 mph under the posted speed limit.


This law was recently expanded to include moving over or slowing down for any disabled vehicle with flashing hazard lights activated.

Michigan City Mayor Removes Benches from Local District

(Michigan City, IN) - All park benches in Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District have been removed to try and thin out a sharp increase in the presence of homeless people using them to sit and sleep.


According to business owners, the homeless people targeted are not simply down on their luck, allegedly having mental health and drug addiction issues. Store owners, employees and customers have been threatened with harm by some of the people inside and outside the businesses.


A lot of the homeless people also engaged in panhandling.


“I don’t know if removing the benches was necessarily the right thing to do but I can tell you that something definitely needs to be done,” notes Renee Fennell, owner of Paris House of Bridal and Prom at 728 Franklin Street.


Jessi Cundiff, owner of the Hoity Toity resale shop at 703 Franklin Street, said hosing down feces, urine and vomit from the sidewalk in front of his store became almost a daily routine. A number of times, he has purportedly locked up his store with his customers inside as a safety precaution, due to homeless people fist-fighting each other.


“Some of them are really aggressive. Some of them will confront you if you don’t give them any money.  It’s unfortunate but it’s running off customers,” he said.


On July 28th, Mayor Duane Parry ordered the park benches and tables at the grounds of the nearby Farmers Market to be removed in order to deter the homeless from congregating. Cundiff and representatives from other businesses have reported seeing few, if any, homeless people ever since.


Parry said he issued the order after being unsuccessful with a group he asked to get involved in the issue in a different matter.


“It was a decision I made because nothing was happening,” he said.


The mayor feels the problem and timing had reached such a point for something to be done, considering business owners and especially the 14th annual Great Lakes Grand Prix, which features powerboats racing along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Washington Park. More than 200,000 people have come in the past for the races and related events in the days leading up to the main event, including the boat parade and Taste of Michigan City both held in the Uptown Arts District.


This year, the events kicked off this past Wednesday and run through Sunday.


Before the benches were taken away, Cundiff and Fennell noted it was not unusual for homeless people to be sitting or sleeping on every one of them in the six blocks making up the arts district on Franklin Street.


Cundiff said there’s always been a homeless issue downtown since he opened his store 10-years ago, but the people on the streets then were more friendly and stable in their behavior. Now, he says the make-up of the homeless population downtown over the past two years has changed drastically, and so have their numbers.


“It’s a whole different crowd,” he said.


“We’ve always had some homeless people but we’ve never had the dangerous issues that we’re having,” Fennell said.


Anatasia Gumms of Michigan City said she was upset about the mayor’s decision, calling it “short sighted.” She says removing the benches will only push them to other parts of the city, while doing nothing to solve the cause of their homelessness.


Gumms also said the people, regardless of their situation, are human beings and benches allow them to at least take the weight off their feet.


“It’s definitely an issue. I just think there’s a way you can be proactive versus reactive,” she said.


Gumms is a reference librarian at the Michigan City Public Library, which is on the northern edge of the Uptown Arts District at 4th and Franklin streets.


She spoke of how homeless people come in daily to use the restroom, drink from water fountains and enjoy the air conditioning. Gumms said they’re welcome to come in, and efforts are also made to interact with the individuals who are offered resources to help them get off the streets.


“We’ve got a pretty steady population here."


There’s a belief the problem stems from an increase in homelessness locally and police being unable to enforce local laws against loitering and panhandling.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than 20-years ago that criminalizing loitering was unconstitutional.


A new state law cracking down on panhandling went into effect in 2020 but was later overturned by a federal judge ruling the practice as a form of protected speech. As a result, some people feel homeless individuals started migrating to the Uptown Arts District from other parts of the city to have more people to solicit without fear of being arrested.


Jim Musial, executive director of Citizens Concerned for the Homeless, said he does not believe there’s been an increase in homelessness locally, judging from data like yearly estimated head counts.


Musial said the shelters run by his organization are housing more people, though, blaming that on the higher cost of rent and people having to stay longer until they can find afforable housing.


“We have an affordable housing crisis,” he said.


Musial said people at his shelters are offered programs and other resources aimed at helping them become more self-sufficient.

Clashing Over Withholding Legal Tab

(La Porte County, IN) - By a 2-to-1 vote, the still-clashing La Porte County Commissioners have decided not to pay the current legal tab of the county auditor defending himself against a lawsuit by former county attorney Shaw Friedman for the time being.


Recently, the La Porte County Council, which is the fiscal arm of county government, approved payment of the current bill of more than $9,000.


Friedman is suing Stabosz, alleging he acted outside the scope of his job by withholding some of his payments to score political points and out of a dislike for him personally.


The council voted to pay the tab, but if the court rules Stabosz acted personally then he has to refund the money.


Stabosz maintains that he acted as auditor because Friedman did not offer proof that some of his claims were for work outside the scope of his legal duties.


Commissioners Connie Gramarossa and Rich Mrozinski voted not to pay the legal tab until they receive an itemized bill from Stabosz’ attorney and verify his work was valid.


Stabosz told the commissioners overriding the county council’s decision would set the stage for grinding county government to a halt from a power struggle between the fiscal body and the executive body.


“Legitimate, authorized county bills need to be paid.  You are opening a Pandora’s box,” he said.


Commissioner Joe Haney argued Gramarossa received the itemized bill in an email sent to her in May and feels his colleagues just wanted to get even politically against Stabosz.


He said Gramarossa and Mrozinski voted to pay all the other hundreds of claims approved by the council except the one from Stabosz’ attorney, and questioned whether they looked at each of the claims before approving them.


“In an email you got a copy of this.  You are being spiteful, vengeful and vindictive and flying in the face of the council,” Hagey said.


Gramarossa insisted she did not receive more specific information on the attorney’s billing statement.


“I have no way in a line item knowing exactly what bill this is,” she said.

Downtown to Take Tropical Twist

(La Porte, IN) - The last Friday Night Live event for the summer is set to give downtown La Porte a tropical atmosphere. 


The city will host its second-ever Cheeseburger in Paradise event at Lincolnway and Monroe St. on August 11th, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 


Similar to last year, local vendors will face off and compete for the title of ‘Best Cheeseburger.’


The evening will also feature a beer garden, artisan vendors, local food trucks and a live musical performance by Cabanarama, a Trop-Rock band covering everything from Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley to the Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney.


City Events Coordinator Brett Binversie said this event will be the perfect ending to the summer’s lineup of downtown events.


“Our residents and visitors beat every last one of our expectations for Taco Fest and we anticipate the same excitement and turnout for this event. Between the delicious food and the beachy music, it will be the perfect way to say goodbye to a great summer,” he said.


To learn more about upcoming events or to become a member, visit livinthelakelife.org.

Former Prosecutor Calls Settlement Not His Decision

(La Porte County, IN) - Former La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake is denying any wrongdoing in light of a legal settlement that has been reached with two former employees.


The legal action at the South Bend U.S. District Court was taken by Roseanne Miller and Natalie Miller, who alleged they were fired for political reasons when Lake took over as prosecutor in 2019.


Lake said the Indiana Attorney General’s Office completely controlled the handling of the case and decided to settle “at the last minute without my involvement," despite his wanting to go to trial.


“I was kept in the dark pretty much over the course of the litigation and was not involved nor consulted on the lawsuit except as a witness."


In Indiana, a county prosecutor is employed by the state, and as a result, the state will pay the damages outlined in the settlement because Lake is not being held personally responsible in the case. 


According to court documents, the case was scheduled for trial next week, but the settlement was reached two days ago in talks involving a judge presiding over the negotiations. Formal settlement documents were ordered to be filed with the court on September 1st.  The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.


Lake also criticized the handling of the case on his behalf, calling it a “complete embarrassment."


“I had 12 different deputy attorney generals that handled the case over the past three years, most with no experience,” he said. 


He also said the Indiana Attorney General’s Office failed to contact or talk to the most important witnesses until less than 30 days from the trial.


“I denied any wrongdoing and still do, but never got my day in court to prove it,” he said.

Repairs to County Complex to Resume

(La Porte County, IN) - Work on the flood-damaged La Porte County Complex will resume soon after having been shut down five weeks ago to allow time for receiving bids on work added to the project. The work involves replacing old water pipes and other existing infrastructure in the building, such as ductwork.


In most cases, the bids opened today were substantially higher than the original estimates from several months ago.


La Porte County Commissioner Connie Gramarossa said during today’s meeting there’s no way out from paying the higher cost.


“We can’t go back and ask them to hold the prices before we send it out to bid so now it is going to cost the taxpayers a lot more money,” she said.


The commissioners approved the bids.


The items added to the project were not directly damaged resulting a water line bursting late last year.  However, officials said those items should be replaced now since they’re exposed from the water-logged interior walls being taken down. The cost of that work would be much higher if done after the new walls go up.


The work came in at hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than originally estimated, but delaying the project further to receive new bids was considered out of the question with the project five weeks behind schedule.


County Council Attorney Guy Di Martino said it’s possible the actual cost once the dust clears might come in less than the estimates, which he believes were not to exceed amounts.


“Your job is going to be on the project manager to whip these people into shape, make sure they’re not lollygagging, and, hopefully, their times and materials are going to come in way under what they submitted their bid for,” he said.


He also said the insurance company will likely not pay the entire cost of the added work but hopes a substantial amount of it will be covered.  


Di Martino added that the work could even resume before the end of the week because the contractors are ready to go.

NIPSCO Rate Hike Approved

(Merrilliville, IN) - NIPSCO has received permission from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to adjust its electric rates beginning this month.


According to NIPSCO, the newly approved rates will be phased in over a multi-step process to spread out the changes to customer bills into next year.


“This decision balances new rates in a way that allows NIPSCO to continue making the necessary investments in our infrastructure and technology to serve customers,” per NIPSCO President Mike Hooper.


Hooper said NIPSCO is transitioning to a more balanced energy portfolio that includes renewable energy sources and that these changes represent a more-than $800 million investment.


The newly-approved rates also support the approximately $700 million cost of electric transmission and distribution system upgrades, technology improvements, and safety and reliability initiatives to be completed by the end of 2023, according to the Merrillvile-based utility.


Initially, the average residential electric customer will see an overall increase of about $12 per month, an increase of more than 10 percent.


Originally, the utility sought a 16.5 percent rate increase.

Cause of Motel Fire Under Investigation

(Michigan City, IN) - The cause of a fire at a Michigan City motel is under investigation.


The fire happened Saturday night at the Travel Inn in the area of U.S. 421

and U.S. 20 when a guest returned to find his second-floor room engulfed by flames.


A police officer, with help from firefighters, rescued another guest from their adjacent room by pulling them out of a broken window.


Officials assured the fire was knocked down quickly and mostly contained to the room where it started.


There were no injuries.

Baby Burned in Cooking Oil Accident

(St. Joseph County, IN) - A baby was burned by cooking oil at a home near Walkerton on Sunday.


According to authorities, a 10-month-old child was taken by medical helicopter to a hospital in Chicago for treatment. They are currently in stable condition.


So far, the initial investigation shows the burn injury was accidental in nature.


No further details were released.  

Settlement in Lawsuit Against Former Prosecutor

(South Bend, IN) - A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit against former La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake.


The legal action in U.S. District Court in South Bend was taken by Roseanne Miller and Natalie Miller, who alleged they were fired for political reasons when Lake took over as prosecutor in 2019.


According to court documents, the case was scheduled for trial next week.  However, a settlement was reached two days ago during talks involving a judge presiding over the case.


Court records also disclosed Lake was ordered to provide the plaintiffs with their settlement today.


Formal settlement documents were also ordered to be filed with the court on September 1st.


So far, the amount of the settlement has not been disclosed.

Fans to Celebrate Dwarf Baseball Player

(Berrien County, MI) - The only dwarf to ever play in a major league baseball game will be celebrated in the area later this month.


The Southwestern Michigan Chapter of the Eddie Gaedel Society meets annually to toast the man who walked on four straight pitches for the St. Louis Browns on August 19th, 1951. The group will meet again on the anniversary of his game appearance at the New Troy Community Center at 4 p.m. in New Troy, which is north of Three Oaks.


There will be a Baseball Team Trivia game after participants engage in a little small talk and story-telling.


Admission is free for the event, also featuring door prizes and ballpark snacks.


The gathering is sponsored by the Biggest Little Baseball Museum in Three Oaks.  The museum is on the upper level of the public library in downtown Three Oaks.


Register your team or as an individual by contacting the museum on Facebook or by texting 269-363-6548.  Email registration is also accepted at garry.lange1@gmail.com


Gaedel, who was from Chicago, never played again after the league decided his appearance was a publicity stunt by St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck, who went on to become the owner of the Chicago White Sox.

Mayor: Silenced Trains a Done Deal

(La Porte, IN) - Freight trains blaring their horns could be a thing of the past in La Porte in the near future. Mayor Tom Dermody said a federal quiet zone designation for the city is not official yet, but it’s a done deal.


He based his opinion on feedback he recently received electronically from a branch of the federal government processing the city’s application for quiet zone designation. Dermody was informed to expect official approval within 60 to 90 days, which is the estimated period of time left for the process to wind its course.


He broke the news on the “Stump the Mayor” program this morning on 96 7 The Eagle.


“It’s a formality and we won’t hear horns,” Dermody said.


A quiet zone would mean freight trains not sounding their horns while approaching crossings anywhere in the city.


Over the past several years, the city has taken the steps required for obtaining quiet zone status by doing things such as providing two stop arms on each side of crossings to keep motorists from driving around stop arms to try and beat an approaching train across the tracks.


Local officials strongly believe it’s a quality of life issue, considering Norfolk Southern averages a train passing through the city about every 20 minutes.

Toll Road Reopens After Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Traffic on the Indiana Toll Road near Westville is moving again following a motor vehicle accident this morning.


Emergency responders about 10 a.m. were called to a report of a personal injury accident just west of the U.S. 421 exit.


Police radio traffic indicated “heavy extrication” was needed to reach an individual trapped in the vehicle.


The Toll Road was blocked to provide a landing spot for a medical helicopter.


Both lanes reopened about one hour later.


Firefighters from Coolspring and Springfield townships were among the emergency responders dispatched to the accident scene.


We’ll provide more details as they’re made available.

Charges in Funeral Home Brawl

(La Porte, IN) - Two people have been charged in connection with the firing of a gun during a fight at a La Porte funeral home.




Alfredo Villano, 43, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with level 6 felony criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.


Jaszmin Morris, 39, is charged with La Porte Superior Court 3 with Class A misdemeanor battery.


According to court documents, police were dispatched after 10 a.m. Friday to Frank Keisei Funeral Home Essling Chapel at 1117 Indiana Ave.


A large number of people were there to pay their respects to a loved one when things quickly spiraled out of control. 


According to court documents, three women involved in the fighting were feuding on Facebook for several days.


Video surveillance from the funeral home shows Morris walking up to a large crowd and begin swinging her fists at the entrance to the building, according to court documents.  She then allegedly struck a woman in the face.


The victim bleeding heavily from the nose and mouth told police Morris then another woman kept hitting her in the face and head area.  A few people trying to break up the fight landed some blows while others who rushed over engaged in shoving and yelling, police said.


At one point, Villano in the funeral home parking lot pointed a gun in the air and fired one shot to try and break up the altercation, court documents revealed.


The large crowd began thinning out but were still engaged in a lot of yelling and finger pointing as police officers from multiple agencies started to arrive.


Morris of Michigan City and Villano of La Porte have since posted bond. 

Hammer Drops on Fentanyl Dealer

(La Porte, IN) - A 22-year-old La Porte man will be doing some hard time for dealing fentanyl.


Pedro Burgos has been given a 17-year prison sentence.


Per the investigation, one of the alleged transactions occurred in June of last year in La Porte after he and a buyer agreed on Facebook Messenger to meet outside of the Speedway on East Lincolnway.


Burgos pulled up and the buyer climbed into his car.  Burgos, suspecting he was possibly being watched by police, then drove off to see if he would be followed.


The $300 exchange was carried out after Burgos felt safe. According to court documents, the fentanyl was contained inside hand-pressed pills from Mexico.


LaPorte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan said the arrest was part of Operation Play Pen, which was an effort to identify and disrupt shipments of fentanyl coming into LaPorte County. He gave credit to members of the La Porte County Drug Task Force, as well as Deputy Prosecutor Atley Price along with Julianne Havens for getting a conviction in the case.


“Most people don’t realize the long hours and painstaking effort that goes into identifying suppliers and dealers.  That toil and sweat is what lays the foundation of a successful prosecution.  That’s why Mr. Burgos is behind bars,” he said.

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