Cops: Griffith business, owned by woman found dead at casino, a crime scene

2013-03-29T19:05:00Z 2013-05-21T12:23:04Z Cops: Griffith business, owned by woman found dead at casino, a crime sceneLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

GARY | Police early Friday afternoon said they are treating the Griffith company owned by a St. John woman found shot to death in a Majestic Star Casino garage as a crime scene.

Mary Austgen, 76, of the 9100 block of Maple Drive, was pronounced dead at 4:10 a.m. in parking garage 2D, 1 Buffington Harbor, according to the Lake County coroner's office.

The cause of death is listed as a single gunshot wound to the lower left torso. The death was ruled a homicide.

Lt. Matt Argadine, of the Griffith Police Department, said Austgen was reported missing Thursday by family members with whom she worked at The Austgen Cos., 801 E. Main St. in Griffith.

Argadine said Austgen was last seen about 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Griffith business. Austgen was found inside her car in the parking garage at the casino with a fatal gunshot wound, he said.

Cpl. Gabrielle King, spokeswoman for the Gary Police Department, said homicide detectives are working with Griffith police on the investigation. The Lake County Sheriff's Department's crime lab also is assisting in the investigation.

King said there is no known motive for the shooting death.

Austgen was the owner of Austgen Properties. The company is a subsidiary of The Austgen Cos., which is housed at the same location.

Griffith and Lake County police were combing the business early Friday, collecting evidence inside and dusting the door to the business for fingerprints.

Griffith Detective Jim Sibley confirmed at the location Friday morning that the building housing the business is being considered a crime scene.

Sibley said investigators scoured Austgen's home in St. John as well but are not considering that location a crime scene.

When asked if detectives believe Austgen was abducted from her business or possibly carjacked, Argadine said police have yet to make that determination but are examining all options.

Times correspondent Lu Ann Franklin contributed to this report.

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