The arrest of a suspect in the kidnapping and death of Mary Austgen shows what can happen when law enforcement agencies work together.
Ralph Martinez, 57, of Alsip, faces charges of murder, robbery and criminal confinement.
Police say he attacked Austgen, 76, of St. John at her family business in Griffith on March 28. Martinez is a former tenant at the business, Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said.
Mance credited the following agencies for participating in the ongoing investigation:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
- Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.
- Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.
- Lake County Sheriff's Department.
- Griffith Police Department.
- Gary Police Department.
- Alsip Police Department.
This is how crimes like this should be investigated. A smaller police department doesn't have the resources to investigate a major crime like this one.
Pooling resources -- as already happens with the HIDTA task force and the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force -- helps law enforcement professionals solve individual cases faster.
Bringing these resources to bear on a case soon after the crime occurs, while leads are still hot, makes it easier to solve the crime.
The extra officers were able to quickly follow up on tips from the public.
Griffith's police chief deserves credit for acknowledging his department needed help to investigate this case.
That's why the Major Crimes Task Force and other interagency efforts were created. It's good to see the process working as it should.