UNION TOWNSHIP | Family and friends of Dustin McCowan believe it was not the 19-year-old who killed his former girlfriend Amanda Bach, but someone else, possibly a multistate serial killer.
Now, they're putting up a $10,000 reward to find the person they believe is responsible for what they see as McCowan's wrongful incarceration.
Elliott McCowan, Dustin's father, said the $10,000 reward came from a supporter who wishes to remain unnamed.
"I had somebody contact me saying they wanted to put out a $10,000 reward for any information that ultimately results in an arrest and conviction," Elliott McCowan said. "Obviously they're a supporter of my son. They think he's innocent."
The elder McCowan, a Crown Point police officer, asks that anyone with information in the case contact the Porter County Sheriff's Department. He said the reward only stands for information received through March 18.
"(The donor) wanted to put the pressure on," he said.
Bach disappeared Sept. 15 after allegedly spending an evening with Dustin McCowan at his rural Union Township home. On Sept. 17, her lifeless body was found with a single gunshot wound to her throat along a Union Township railroad easement, about 300 yards from McCowan's home.
McCowan was arrested and charged with Bach's murder. He's currently being held in Porter County Jail awaiting his August trial.
Florida-based private investigator Bill Warner has been following the case and said he sees some similarities between Bach's disappearance and killing and that of a 44-year-old woman in Dyersburg, Tenn., who was found dead along a county road, miles away from her car with its flattened tire.
"They're all petite females, all light brown or blonde hair," Warner said.
Warner said the first he heard of the Bach case was about 9:40 a.m. Jan. 5, when he received a four-minute phone call from a man claiming he was a police officer in Valparaiso. Warner said the man provided him with "inside information"and brought up similarities in a series of cases.
"I get the phone call from a supposed police officer. I had no idea where Valparaiso was," Warner said. "The more I looked into it, the more fishy things got."
Warner blogged about the case and within hours, that blog posting was linked on three different Facebook sites maintained by McCowan supporters.
Warner said he wanted to know where he was getting his information, so he traced the number and determined it was from an inside line at the Crown Point Police Department, where McCowan's father works.
"I feel like I'm getting played here," Warner said.
Elliott McCowan said he made that phone call and said he sees similarities in the fate of the women.
"I'm the one who called that guy," Elliott McCowan said. "It's very similar to what happened to Amanda. It's possible. You can't rule anything out."
Bob Harper, Dustin McCowan's defense attorney, said he couldn't comment on the validity of any theories and said his focus is on preparing his client's defense.
"The only thing I can say is Dustin has maintained his innocence throughout this and his family is very supportive of him," Harper said.