Police believe McCowan's father may have helped in cover-up

2013-02-27T10:03:00Z 2013-02-28T20:53:50Z Police believe McCowan's father may have helped in cover-upBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
February 27, 2013 10:03 am  • 

VALPARAISO | Porter County police confirmed Wednesday morning they are looking into the possibility that the father of convicted murderer Dustin McCowan — Crown Point Police Officer Joseph Elliott McCowan — aided his son in attempting to cover up the crime.

Capt. Jeff Biggs, commander of the sheriff's detective bureau and lead investigator in the McCowan case, said during a news conference that the effort will focus on determining whether Joseph Elliott McCowan aided in getting rid of evidence in the case.

Dustin McCowan, 20, was found guilty late Tuesday of murdering his former girlfriend, 19-year-old Amanda Bach, of Portage, on Sept. 16, 2011, and dumping her body just 300 yards from his then-Union Township home.

Two messages left Wednesday on Joseph Elliott McCowan's voicemail at the Crown Point Police Department were not returned and a home phone number could not be found. But he had denied under oath Feb. 13 during his son's trial that he was involved in any cover-up.

Crown Point Assistant Police Chief Jim Janda did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment, but Chief Pete Land said Joseph Elliott McCowan is currently scheduled off using his vacation time.

An former inmate at the Porter County Jail testified during the three-week trial that Dustin McCowan told him he hid Bach's cellphone in an abandoned house near his own home and his father later collected it.

A neighbor of the home Joseph Elliott McCowan and his son were living in at the time of the murder told jurors she saw the elder McCowan's police car at home on the night in question.

McCowan confirmed the validity of work records showing he was on the job at the time in Crown Point.

Prosecutors told jurors that Joseph Elliot McCowan picked up his son in his squad car on the morning Bach went missing and took a short drive before returning to the house and saying nothing to his friend's son, who was there for support.

Police never have found the gun used in the killing or Bach's cellphone.

Joseph Elliott McCowan testified he discovered a .38-caliber, five-shot revolver missing from under a couch at his home on Sept. 17, 2011, the day Bach's body was found.

He said he had the Smith & Wesson gun since 2005 or 2006 and had last seen the loaded weapon Sept. 12, 2011, days before Bach was shot once in the front of the throat.

An FBI firearm examiner testified during the trial that the bullet removed from Bach's body is on the same design as cartridges turned over by Joseph Elliott McCowan for the missing gun.

The examiner said the bullet could have been fired from a few different types and makes of guns in the .38-caliber family. The defense argued investigators would not have even known about the missing weapon if Joseph Elliott McCowan had not provided that information.

A former inmate at the Porter County Jail has said Dustin McCowan told him while they were locked up together that he shot someone named Amanda and buried the gun so well it will never be found.

Dustin McCowan, who showed little reaction to Tuesday's guilty verdict, is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. March 28 by Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

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