New DNA evidence and witness testimony helped investigators arrest two elderly suspects this week in connection to the nearly 50-year-old murder of an Indiana teenager.
Indiana State Police and the Noble County Prosecutor announced Tuesday that they had arrested Fred Bandy Jr. and John Wayne Lehman, both 67, on Monday for the Aug. 1975 killing of Laurel Jean Mitchell, WANE reported.
Mitchell, 17, disappeared on the night of Aug. 6, 1975 after leaving her job at the Epworth Forest Church camp snack bar in North Webster, the outlet said.
Her drowned body was discovered the next day in the Elkhart River. ISP Capt. Kevin Smith told Fox News this week that her remains also bore signs of an intense physical struggle.
Despite witnesses who saw a dark car and heard yelling near where Mitchell was last seen, the case went cold until 2013, when probable cause affidavits indicate that a woman contacted the Noble County Sheriff’s Department to say that Lehman, her former boyfriend, confessed to killing the teen with Bandy.
The following year, investigators interviewed another man who said Bandy confessed to the murder at a high school party not long after. A third person also came forward and said Bandy confessed to them.
In 2019, police resubmitted Mitchell’s clothing for DNA testing at the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division. The results were eventually compared to a 2022 sample from Bandy, which revealed that he was 13 billion times more likely to be the source of the genetic material on Mitchell’s clothing than another unknown individual.
According to both affidavits, police now believe that Bandy and Lehman abducted Mitchell into Bandy’s 1971 Oldsmobile and drowned her at a public access site on County Road 600 N.
Both Bandy and Lehman are now in custody on murder charges. They are due at preliminary hearings on Wednesday.
“This case is a culmination of a decades-long investigation…and science finally gave us the evidence we needed,” Smith told ABC7.
“The public’s willingness to bring forward important information was key to solving this case, and I thank them.”
Noble County Prosecutor Jim Mowery also assured the public that the case against Bandy and Lehman was just beginning.
“While the arrest of these two individuals is a very important step, this isn’t the end,” he said.
“The investigation of this crime is still ongoing and the prosecution of these defendants has just begun.”
The post DNA evidence helps catch elderly suspects in 1975 cold case appeared first on New York Post.