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June 30, 2014

Dogs return to river in investigation

Homicide: Police continue search for evidence in case of body pulled from Wabash River June 8

TERRE HAUTE — Trained canine units returned to the east bank of the Wabash River on Monday in an ongoing homicide investigation.

A team from Great Lakes Search and Rescue brought three cadaver dogs to assist the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department search for evidence in the homicide of 50-year-old Michael Pollock. The body of Pollock was found June 8 by boaters on the river just south of the Interstate 70 bridge.

Chief Deputy Clark Cottom declined to say what the items are being sought.

Cottom has also declined to release how Pollock died, other than to state that an autopsy determined that the death was homicide.

Following a brief downpour that interrupted the search Monday morning, the team took Hawkeye, a belgian malinois, out of the river in a boat launched from Fairbanks Park.

Bob Cramer, a handler with the Oostburg, Wis.-based search and rescue team, said the dogs specialize in drownings and locating submerged bodies.

“A lot of the calls we get are drownings,” said Cramer, whose wife Julie has worked with canines for 23 years. “It takes a lot of training to translate the location of a cadaver under water.”

He explained that the dogs will detect the odor of decay as it rises to the surface. Water is a better conductor of odor than air, he said. Then, depending on the current and swirl of the water, the searchers can narrow their search area on the water.

In addition to Hawkeye, the canine team included Scout, also a belgian malinois, and a German shepherd named Quelle. All three dogs have multiple national certifications, Cramer said.

Just last week, the Great Lakes team was at Camp Atterbury for some canine exercises, which included training with Blaze, the new arson dog of the Sugar Creek Fire Department. Blaze has been in Wisconsin learning search and rescue, and when the Cramers were called to assist with the river search, they decided to bring Blaze for a visit.

The search on the river included units from the Indiana State Police and the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency.

Cottom said investigators are still asking for tips from anyone who might have had contact with Pollock on June 3, the last day that he was known to be alive. On that day, he had been discharged from a local hospital and had been seen leaving the Octapharma Plasma Center on Walnut Street, and walking west on Poplar from the Dollar General near Ninth Street.

Pollock’s last known address was at a men’s shelter near Gilbert Park. Originally from Chicago, he had been in the Terre Haute for about two years, but had no family members residing in the Wabash Valley.

Following the search Monday, Cottom said he could not elaborate on what investigators were looking for in the river search. He did note that the cadaver dogs have found human remains in up to 100 feet of water.

Anyone with information about Pollock can call the sheriff’s office at 812-462-3226 or call Crime Stoppers at 812-238-STOP.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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