TERRE HAUTE —
Those two words are common to several homicide cases around the Wabash Valley that remain unsolved by investigators.
Somebody knows the names, places and circumstances involving the deaths of about a dozen people — sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, parents, friends — in communities around the Wabash Valley.
The unsolved status of these cases not only saddens the families whose loved ones have died, but frustrates the law enforcement agencies who want to bring justice to the victims.
A recent survey of unsolved or “cold” cases around the Wabash Valley revealed at least 15 homicides in the Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.
The most recent — the shooting death of Lowell Badger, 85, of Sullivan County — occurred Dec. 8 at his rural Merom home. The Indiana State Police are investigating the homicide, and a $35,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for Badger’s death.
More than 20 years later
“What you always hope on these cold cases is that something bothers somebody’s conscience so that they come forward,” said Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, who reviews information on five unsolved homicides in the county.
One of those cases involves Marsa Gipson, a 28-year-old mother of two who was driving on Interstate 70 in August 1991 when two 20-pound rocks were thrown from an overpass bridge onto the front of Gipson’s Chevrolet Camaro.
One of the rocks crashed through the driver’s side windshield, striking and killing Gipson, who was driving westbound en route to Terre Haute to pick up her young children.
The investigation into the incident has continued through the years.
“We still get calls about it, and we will look into them,” Bookwalter said. In fact, investigators sent evidence in the case off for DNA testing in 2011, hoping that new information would be revealed that could lead to an arrest in the case.
Soon to be in the cards
Three homicides investigated over the years by the Terre Haute Police Department will be included in the third edition of Indiana Cold Case Homicides Playing Cards, to be released by the Indiana Department of Correction in April as part of Victim’s Rights Week.
THPD Assistant Chief Shawn Keen said he hopes that getting information out to the public about the deaths of Pam Milam, Donte Bridgeman and Anthony Loftson will bring resolution to the cases.
Milam of Terre Haute was a student at Indiana State University when her body was found in the trunk of her car in September 1972. She had been gagged, Keen said, and an autopsy determined that she suffocated.
Bridgeman was found shot to death on Dec. 10, 2006 at his home in the 1500 block of Eagle Street. Two men were reportedly seen running from the residence. Bridgeman was shot through the window of the home around 5 a.m.
Loftson has been missing since August 1993, when he was 20 years old. A black male, he was last seen in the area of Eighth and Cherry streets. His body has never been found.
Keen said that submitting those three cases for inclusion on the homicide playing cards is one way investigators in the department are hoping to get some new leads in those cases. Where evidence has been properly stored, investigators have also submitted items from older cases to crime labs in hopes that DNA evidence will reveal new leads.
They deserve justice
Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said that unsolved homicides are regularly reviewed by police agencies, and he declines to call any case “cold” because it sounds as if investigations have stopped.
“There are several cases we wish we could solve,” Modesitt said. “All of them deserve to have justice. All of the families want closure.”
Having the right evidence to get a conviction, however, is not always easy.
“If we can get enough information, we will file charges,” Modesitt said. “It is our job to file charges. But, you only get one chance, and if you take a case to a jury, which acquits the defendant due to lack of evidence, then there is no justice.”
Clark Cottom, chief deputy at the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, said investigators there regularly review unsolved homicides looking for new angles to pursue or checking information. In some cases, there are suspects that might be charged with a crime if someone could provide the right information.
For instance, Cottom said, one 15-year-old homicide was solved after an inmate in the Vigo County Jail gave a tip to police, connecting another suspect to the 1992 shooting death and robbery of cab driver Jerry Need. When police tracked down the suspect, Cottom said, the man told the detective that he had been waiting years to be questioned about the case. That suspect was later convicted by a jury.
Sadly, some families may not see the resolution of the case involving their loved one, Cottom said. Some victims’ families keep in contact with police to see if progress is being made in the case. It is unfortunate when those families get their hopes up for their own case by hearing about a different case being solved, he said.
But, somebody somewhere knows what happened in each case.
Anyone wanting to give information about an unsolved homicide can contact Wabash Valley Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or 812-238-STOP; the Indiana State Police at 765-653-5272, or the Terre Haute Police Department at 812-238-1661.
Answers Are Out There: Several homicides in the Wabash Valley remain unsolved — but authorities continue to search for the truth
TERRE HAUTE —
Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature
Ella Boyles, 3, watches as her grandmother Verdeana Boyles starts a flower arrangement during the JMG! Jammin! Muddin! & Growin! Jr. Master Gardener Program on Tuesday at the west branch of the Vigo County Public Library in West Terre Haute.
Study finds school scores rising — poverty too
While Vigo County’s educational scores outperform the state average, schools are seeing the impact of an increase in the number of children living in poverty, according to the national Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 “Kids Count.”
No more teacher-led prayer in Vigo schools
As the result of a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Vigo County School Corp. teachers and other staff will no longer be able to lead prayers during school-sponsored events.
Vigo school board candidate filing period begins today
Four of seven Vigo County School Board seats are up for election this year.
Six hurt in pickup crash on I-70
An accident on Interstate 70 that injured six people Tuesday afternoon is being attributed to mechanical failure.
Cops know where hoax call came from — next is who made it
Police have identified the location from which a bomb threat was made and mentioning The Meadows shopping center.
Parties fill openings on fall ballots
The face of the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election has changed slightly after a July 15 deadline for major parties to nominate candidates and independent candidates to file for positions that were left vacant after the May primary election.
Motorcyclist critical from head trauma after crashing bike
A Vigo County man remained hospitalized Tuesday in critical condition following a motorcycle accident on Monday evening.
Greene County woman dies from motorcycle wreck injuries
A Linton woman has died as the result of a motorcycle crash on Monday in Greene County on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
Man whose body found in trailer identified; how he died still undetermined
The body discovered inside a trailer in Montgomery County last month has been identified as a man whose last known address was in Clinton.
Vigo schools miss out on preschool programs for low-income students
Vigo County schools were not selected, but schools in Indiana’s three most populous counties were among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Drowning confirmed as cause of death at Raccoon Lake
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful after his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
WTH house fire under investigation
No injuries were reported in a West Terre Haute house fire that is under investigation.
Body found in trailer identified as Vermillion County man
Authorities have identified the person whose body was discovered last month in a trailer that had recently been moved from Vermillion County. Indiana State Police, using DNA testing, identified the body as that of Shane L. Sowers, 41, whose last known address was on North Sixth Street in Clinton
Troubled bridge over water
For years, the iconic, arched foot-bridge at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College had been the backdrop for pictures of newlyweds, prom-goers and Woodsies.
Pool construction bids, principals approved
After more than a year of discussion, debate and planning, work on the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center at Voorhees Park is expected to begin today.
‘Launch’ pad for creativity
In an effort to foster entrepreneurs to begin and grow their ideas into a start-up business in Vigo County, “Launch Terre Haute” will host a co-work open house Wednesday.
Gelato at 12 Points
Coffee and gelato are now on the menu on Terre Haute’s north side.
Man pulled from Raccoon Lake
Indiana Conservation divers recovered a Veedersburg man reportedly submerged Monday afternoon at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
Mall evacuated after bomb threat
The Meadows Shopping center was evacuated about 5 p.m. Monday after police received a report of an alleged bomb threat.
UPDATE: Faulty brakes blamed for bus crash
Police in Knoxville, Tenn., confirmed Monday that a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal crash last week had faulty brakes.
Police in Indy nab 2nd suspect in homicide case
A second man has been arrested in connection with a homicide in Greene County. The Indiana State Police confirmed that Jason Lee Caldwell, 35, was arrested Monday morning by Indianapolis police.
Police credit public tips for meth lab bust
Tips from the community helped lead to the arrest of a Terre Haute woman on charges including the manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.
Vigo County Council OKs tax abatements
Two companies received final approval from the Vigo County Council Monday for 10-year real and personal property tax abatements.
Police: Brakes on church bus involved in fatal crash were faulty
Investigators confirmed there was a problem with the brakes on a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal accident last week in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tour de force
Pedal by pedal, a group of cyclists endured the hot summer sun and braved varying Indiana terrain on a mission to support survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Living in a dream
“Welcome to the dream home!”
These were the words that greeted guests on Sunday as they entered a white, two-story home on the east side of Terre Haute.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Lake Michigan’s ‘Wonderful World of Color’
Despite the beauty around us, Joanie and I thought of television as we sat on a gorgeous Michigan beach one evening last week.
UPDATE: One suspect in homicide in custody
Police have taken one Greene County man into custody and the search entered its second day on Sunday for the other suspect, both wanted on charges of murder and considered “armed and dangerous.”
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Expiring term heightens the urgency of one lawmaker’s push for reform
State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.
The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition to attend state colleges and universities.
- More News Headlines
- Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature