Father demands answers in investigation of Lake Central teen's death

2013-01-28T00:00:00Z 2013-01-28T13:03:06Z Father demands answers in investigation of Lake Central teen's deathSusan Brown susan brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
January 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CROWN POINT | Levi Evans Sr. had just returned from Connecticut and was planning to spend some time with his son the day the boy died last summer.

A 17-year-old Lake Central High School student, Levi Evans Jr. was found dead by passers-by on Aug. 8 on Lake Central High School property.

Officials were mystified by the death at the time, saying there were no signs of trauma or foul play.

The boy's cause of death remained a question until late October when the Lake County coroner's office determined the death to be of natural causes due to a rare heart disorder.

However, his father continues to question the extent of the official investigation into Levi's death.

Evans, divorced and estranged from the boy's mother, said he first learned something had happened to Levi through a phone call from his own mother.

"I thought it was probably just an accident," he said. When he learned the boy was dead, his initial reaction was disbelief.

"I lost it," he said.

A parent isn't supposed to bury a child, he said.

Evans, 51, of Merrillville, said he had planned to spend more time with Levi because his daughter was moving onto college and his son would be on his own at school.

"He was a bright young man," Evans said. "He could play the drums better than me when he was 5 or 6."

Hearing his father playing the drums, the boy would erupt into screaming and hollering even as a toddler, Evans recalled.

"He blossomed into a musician," Evans said, adding the boy could play more instruments than just the drums.

Evans said as far as he knew there had been no indication the boy suffered from a heart disorder.

"No heart issues whatsoever," Evans said. "It just confuses me."

Evans also is puzzled by what he considers inaccurate descriptions of the boy's body in the autopsy report.

Prior to the coroner's ruling, Evans had sought the assistance of Dyer attorney Andrew Crosmer to obtain all possible information about his son's death.

Crosmer opened a probate case Aug. 22 under which Evans was named as personal representative to supervise the administration of the boy's estate.

The boy's mother, Karen Evans, objected to that appointment, and a hearing was held Oct. 3. At the hearing, Crosmer asked the boy's body not be cremated until all the facts were available.

The court ruled Evans had 10 days to obtain an independent autopsy before the boy's mother could proceed with a cremation. The cremation has since taken place.

Brian Smith, the Merrillville attorney representing Karen Evans, did not respond to requests for comment.

Crosmer said requests to police for documents, photos and videotapes regarding the teen's death proved fruitless, prompting him to subpoena the information. Crosmer is asking the court to compel police to release the information or face contempt.

"Basically, what we're trying to do is get some closure for this family, to find out what happened to his son and get some closure," Crosmer said.

"We contacted the police department several times when (I was) first hired by Levi to help him out with his investigation back in August," Crosmer said. "Since that time, we've run into a stone wall."

Crosmer said his client -- as both the father and the personal representative of the teen's estate -- is entitled to the information.

"He's angry," Crosmer said of the elder Evans. "There's significant distrust for what's going on."

On Dec. 28, attorneys for the town of St. John and the St. John Police Department moved to quash Crosmer's subpoena request, and they also asked the court to issue a protective order against releasing the information.

In their court filings, town attorneys David Austgen and Joseph Svetanoff argue the information is confidential, investigatory and potentially harmful.

Austgen and Svetanoff did not return calls for comment Friday.

During a hearing last week, which Austgen and Svetanoff did not attend, Lake Superior Court Judge William Davis questioned their reliance on using public access laws to try to prevent Evans Sr., from obtaining information from St. John police about his son's death.

Davis is expected to rule on the pending motions within a month.

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