Police: Body of missing Portage woman found

2011-09-17T19:45:00Z 2013-02-02T16:58:09Z Police: Body of missing Portage woman foundBy John Scheibel and Lindsay Machak nwitimes.com
September 17, 2011 7:45 pm  • 

WHEELER | The body of a missing 19-year-old Portage woman was found Saturday afternoon, officials said.

Amanda Bach's body was recovered within three miles of where her car was found early Friday, according to the Porter County Sheriff's Department.

A positive identification was made and the family was notified, Sgt. Larry LaFlower said.

"We have reason to believe that foul play was involved with her death," he said in a news release.

Bach had gone to visit a male acquaintance in Wheeler around 10 p.m. Thursday and never returned home.

LaFlower said the individual is a person of interest because he is believed to be the last person who saw Bach. Police initially said the person was out of town Saturday.

LaFlower declined comment when asked whether that person was in custody Saturday night.

"We're going to be working here overnight," he said. "We're trying to bring everyone involved here to justice."

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris declined comment Saturday night.

More details are expected to be available at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

Police found the 2011 Portage High School graduate's gold Pontiac sedan about 3 a.m. Friday. It was parked next to Dean's General Store at Ind. 130 and County Road 625 West.

The car's door was open, police said, and Bach's purse, wallet and ID were found inside.

Hundreds of volunteers gathered with Bach's friends and family early Saturday in the store's parking lot to search for the missing woman.

About a quarter-mile south of the store, police set up a command center at the entrance to the old Wheeler landfill, next to a retention pond.

The pond and a wooded area to the south were the center of Saturday's search.

Bach's body was found about 3:45 p.m., but LaFlower would not comment on who found it or where.

Friends and family spent hours searching for her with officials.

Bach's father, Bill Bach, helped direct family and friends to distribute fliers in the unincorporated Wheeler, stopping from time to time to thank them for their support.

Bill Bach said his daughter worked at Quaker Steak and Lube in Portage and planned to attend Indiana University Northwest.

"She's very outgoing and a kind individual," Bill Bach said before his daughter was found. "She's got a heart of gold."

Porter County police and local dive teams were searching just south and west of where the car was discovered, including the retention pond. They were joined by the Porter County Emergency Management Agency, local firefighters, conservation officers and the Lake County sheriff's helicopter.

Police and civilians on ATVs combed the area. Police and firefighters combed the woods, walking shoulder to shoulder.

The Porter County sheriff's mounted posse also was called out, LaFlower said, to search the area from a different perspective.

Bill Bach said he was touched by all of the support from the community. He said arrived in Wheeler about 9 a.m. Saturday and was met by people offering to help whom he didn't even know.

"It's amazing," he said. "I'm at a loss for words."

He was not available late Saturday night.

Jessica Reagor, of Chesterton, was among the volunteers who lined Ind. 130, stopping passing motorists and handing out fliers.

Reagor does not know Bach, but said she felt she needed to help the family, so she helped make up signs.

Also on hand Saturday was Lydia Pisarski, a friend of Bach's mother who was vacationing with her mother in Mexico when she learned about her daughter's disappearance.

Pisarski said her mother took the first available flight home to join her family. She described the Bachs as a very close family.

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