Family wants 19-year-old fatal hit-and-run case reopened

2013-09-30T14:26:00Z 2013-10-01T18:10:08Z Family wants 19-year-old fatal hit-and-run case reopenedStan Maddux Times Correspondent
September 30, 2013 2:26 pm  • 

LAPORTE | The recent arrest in a 20-year-old homicide case has rekindled the hope of the family of a man killed 19 years ago in a hit-and-run accident.

Jessie Barnett was 25 when he killed the night of Sept. 29, 1994, just east of U.S. 20 and Ind. 39 in Springville.

More than a dozen family members held signs at the intersection on the anniversary of his death Sunday, asking anyone with information to contact the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office.

"Hopefully, somebody with information will come forward. I mean somebody knows something," said his sister, Charlotte Binion, 47, a Michigan City native who now lives in Culver.

Surprisingly, one of the motorists who drove by the demonstration was Amanda Temple, 39, of Lydick.

She was living in New Carlisle at the time of the hit-and-run and was heading home from Purdue North Central near Westville when she found Barnett lying in the gravel.

Temple said one of Barnett's legs was badly twisted and his wallet, along with other belongings, were scattered on the ground.

Temple, on her way home from Chicago on Sunday, stopped and talked to the demonstrators.

She recalled how Barnett "mumbled something" the night he was hit and asked her to give him a ride back home.

"I said, 'Mister, you need to go to the hospital,'" said Temple, who revealed she was contacted about 10 years ago by police looking for possible clues.

Barnett was taken away by ambulance but soon died.

Binion said her brother was walking from his home in Shady Grove mobile home park to a nearby gas station to buy some cigarettes when he was hit.

Barnett's uncle Bobby Rudd, of Michigan City, said the arrest in late August in the 1993 murder of 16-year-old Rayna Rison, of LaPorte, is what triggered the demonstration.

"This gives our family hope that maybe someone else will come forward and say this is what happened," Rudd said. "At least (that would) give us some closure."

Few if any solid leads were generated in the Barnett case.

LaPorte County Police Chief of Detectives Pat Cicero said the death is on a list of unsolved homicides that are given a fresh look from time to time.

More than likely, somebody is going to have to come forward with knowledge on who hit Barnett for the case to be solved, Cicero said.

He said media publicity can't hurt in drawing out somebody who might know something.

"If anybody has any information, we'll follow up on it," Cicero said.

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