Expert said Bach's body likely dumped day before it was discovered

2013-02-13T15:00:00Z 2013-02-14T11:39:11Z Expert said Bach's body likely dumped day before it was discoveredBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
February 13, 2013 3:00 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | A forensic insect specialist testified Wednesday morning that homicide victim Amanda Bach's body likely had been dumped the day before it was discovered Sept. 17, 2011, along railroad tracks in rural Union Township.

The conclusion is based on the early stage of the large masses of unhatched fly eggs found in her matted hair and inside her nose, said Ralph Edward Williams, an entomologist from Purdue University.

Williams rejected attempts by the defense to discredit the findings because the fly eggs were not collected from Bach's body during the autopsy.

He said all the eggs would have shown is the exact species of the flies that laid the eggs. The age of the eggs can be determined by the photographs, along with a timeline of the body's discovery and the weather conditions at the time.

Williams said the eggs were probably laid on Bach's body between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, after the temperatures and daylight were proper for that action to take place.

Prosecutors are arguing that 19-year-old Bach, of Portage, was killed earlier on Sept. 16, 2011, by her former boyfriend Dustin McCowan. Her body was found fewer than 300 yards from the home McCowan and his family were living in at the time.

Also testifying Wednesday was forensic pathologist John Cavanaugh, who concluded after conducting an autopsy on Bach that she likely died somewhere between Sept. 15 and 17, 2011.

He also said Bach was shot in the front of the neck at a distance of less than a foot to 2 feet away, had her neck bent back at the time, likely could not have spoken after suffering the wound and died within five to 15 minutes.

A neighbor of McCowan testified last week she heard an unidentified man on the night in question say, "Amanda, get up." The comment was followed by an unidentified female's voice saying, "I can't believe this is happening."

While going through graphic photographs of the autopsy, Cavanaugh told jurors that injuries indicate Bach was dragged feet first with her buttocks lifted off the ground for a significant distance. This could explain why her bra and shirts were found bunched up around her wrists that were over her head.

He also found injuries on Bach's scalp that indicate her hair was pulled.

Cavanaugh showed jurors that gunpowder injuries indicate Bach had her right hand up near her upper chest when she was shot in the neck.

As has been the case throughout the trial, McCowan faced the floor below him and covered his ears as photos of Bach's dead body were projected on a large screen at the front of the courtroom and the injuries were discussed.

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