EDITORIAL: Open access to give family closure

2013-01-30T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Open access to give family closure nwitimes.com
January 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Last August, a 17-year-old Lake Central High School student, Levi Evans Jr., died suddenly on school property. There were no apparent signs of trauma or foul play. Yet there is still no closure for his family.

The boy's father, Levi Evans Sr., is frustrated with the St. John Police Department's refusal to assist with that closure by providing access to its documents about that case.

Evans is headed back into court today to try to get Lake Superior Court Judge William Davis to grant Evans access to those documents.

Why are the police refusing to let Evans see the documents, photos and videotapes he seeks regarding his son's death?

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey has ruled -- twice -- that this case was a death from a rare heart disorder. Yet according to documents filed by St. John's attorneys, police continue to consider it an open case. What is their reasoning?

It is rare, though not unprecedented, that police and the coroner disagree on whether a crime was committed. If the police believe a crime was committed in this case, they should say so. They should also bring more resources to bear on this case.

St. John is a small community and doesn't have the resources a larger community might have for investigating major crimes. So if St. John police believe a crime was committed, they should bring in the major crimes task force. That's why the task force was created.

But if the son's body, since cremated, showed no evidence of a crime, how can St. John police consider this an open case?

Without the coroner's support, and without calling on the major crimes task force for assistance, it is difficult to believe the St. John police can show a crime was committed, much less solve a crime in connection with this case.

There are personal dynamics in this case that need to be considered. The boy's mother, Karen Evans, objected when the probate court appointed her ex-husband as personal representative to supervise the administration of his son's estate. The strained relationship between the parents is sadness heaped upon sadness.

That's all the more reason to try to bring closure in this case.

It shouldn't take a judge's order to give the parents the information Levi Evans seeks so they can have closure. But because the police haven't cooperated, Judge Davis should order St. John to provide the parents access to the information the father seeks.

This family needs closure, which begins with opening access to these documents.

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