Murder charges filed in 1980 shooting of Hammond police Officer Larry Pucalik

2012-06-22T19:30:00Z 2012-06-24T00:32:42Z Murder charges filed in 1980 shooting of Hammond police Officer Larry PucalikBy Susan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Prosecutors filed murder charges Friday in the 1980 slaying of Hammond police Officer Larry Pucalik, who was gunned down during a robbery attempt at a Hammond Holiday Inn.

Among the three defendants are Larry Mayes, 62, of Portage, who served 19 years in prison on a rape conviction before being released based on DNA evidence, and James Hill, 49, of Gary, who was awarded post-conviction relief in the rape case because of discovery violations.

Following his release on the rape conviction, Mayes sued five Hammond police officers for withholding and fabricating evidence, winning a $9 million award that was settled for $4.5 million.

The third defendant is identified as Pierre Catlett, 62, of Harvey, Ill.

Of the three men, only Hill was reported in custody Friday at the Lake County Jail.

The murder investigation was reopened in early 2011, when the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force began locating and getting statements from all still-living witnesses.

Pucalik was off duty and working security Nov. 14, 1980, at the Holiday Inn at 3830 179th St. in Hammond when two men entered the hotel, pulled their handguns, placed a denim bag on the counter and ordered the clerk to put all the money from the cash register into the bag.

Pucalik attempted to halt the robbery but was shot to death. The bag was left behind. No money was taken.

During the course of the investigation, a denim bag was connected with other incidents involving Mayes and Hill, including the rape of a service station attendant the month before Pucalik's shooting, according to the probable cause affidavit filed Friday.

Mayes and Hill were accused of kidnapping and raping the clerk after pointing a gun at her and placing a denim bag on the counter for money.

The affidavit states Hill confessed to Hammond detectives on March 3, 1981, that he drove the car used during the attempted robbery and the shooting of Pucalik, naming Mayes and Catlett as the men who entered the hotel.

On the day of the shooting, Hammond detectives had reported receiving an anonymous telephone call from someone saying, "Pierre Catlett killed your cop," the affidavit states.

Investigating officers interviewed a witness recently who alleged Mayes admitted he, Hill and Catlett were driving around looking for someone to rob, the affidavit state. Mayes allegedly said the Holiday Inn only had one desk clerk who would be an easy target.

While the anonymous caller claimed Catlett as the shooter, Mayes is alleged to have admitted to a witness he shot Pucalik after Pucalik went for Mayes' gun.

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