Police are trying to identify two individuals believed responsible for a string of thefts in the Highland and Munster area.
Highland police reported they believe two suspects stole a package on Dec. 4 from a home in the 8800 block of St. James Place in Highland. Police say these individuals fit the description of two suspects captured on a Ring Doorbell and Security Camera during a similar theft in Munster.
The Ring video shows one of the men wearing a white hat, black jacket, white shoes and black pants. The other man wore a black, hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
Police ask anyone with information to call Highland Detective Daren Conley at 219-838-3184 or Munster Police Department's Investigation Division at 219-836-6656.
CROWN POINT — A naked man covered in blood told East Chicago police he had smoked a lot of synthetic marijuana and heard voices when he stabbed himself and a maintenance worker at an apartment building, court records allege.
Julian Cauley, 24, of East Chicago, had a knife near him when police found him lying on the building's second floor, court records state. Blood was smeared on a wall and on the floor of a nearby stairwell.
Cauley is accused of stabbing a maintenance worker in the arm and chest during an attack in an apartment Nov. 15 in the 4800 block of Indianapolis Boulevard.
The worker told police he and two other men were making repairs inside an apartment when one of them left to retrieve an item from a truck.
A couple of minutes later, the two workers still inside the apartment heard a knock at the door and expected it to be the third worker.
Instead, they opened the door and saw Cauley, who was naked, had a cut wound to his throat and was holding a knife in his right hand, court records allege.
One of the workers fled out a back door while the second worker used a step ladder to separate himself from Cauley, records state.
At one point, Cauley lay down and asked, "What did I do?" Cauley then lunged for the knife, jumped up and cut the worker, who fled out of the building holding his arm, records state.
Police found Cauley on the second floor, and he directed officers to the knife. He allegedly said he smoked a lot of synthetic marijuana, did not know what was going on and heard voices telling him to kill himself.
The worker required surgery to repair his wounds and suffered nerve damage, according to documents.
Cauley also was taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for his wounds.
Cauley remains in a psychiatric treatment facility in Dyer with a police hold, East Chicago Deputy Police Chief Jose Rivera said.
CROWN POINT — A judge on Saturday denied a petition to let bail for a man charged with murder in a shooting that left one dead and wounded two others in July 2018.
Richard Burgess, 22, of Gary, is being held without bond in connection with the homicide of Jessie Brown, 29, on July 3, 2018, in the 3400 block of Pierce Street in Gary.
A woman and man who lived with Brown were wounded in the shooting, according to court records.
Police found a grisly scene when they arrived at the home on Pierce Street.
Shell casings were found on both floors of the home, along with a pool of blood and bloody handprints on the walls, court records say.
A wounded man was found outside the home, and police found a wounded woman and dead man after breaking down a door to a downstairs bedroom after they heard the woman calling for help, records say.
Burgess' attorney, Susan Severtson, wrote in court filings the wounded woman was the only eyewitness in the case and initially told police she didn't see the shooter. Several witnesses also initially told police they thought there were two shooters, records show.
Murder defendants typically are not afforded bail, unless a judge determines the evidence against them is not strong.
Evidence for Burgess's petition to let bail was presented during hearings July 29, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Natalie Williams wrote in legal filings the wounded woman later identified Burgess as the shooter "with 100% certainty."
The woman testified that she knew Burgess through Brown. She said a man in a blue hoodie with a bandanna over his face walked into a room as she and Brown were watching television and opened fire, records show.
The shooter began to leave after Brown fell off the bed onto the floor, but Brown began to moan, she testified.
The woman was able to see Burgess's face when he turned around and shot Brown again, records allege. Burgess also shot the woman two more times, after he realized she was playing dead, she testified.
A firearms examiner with the Lake County Sheriff's Department testified the gun used to wound the woman also fired a bullet
A sheriff's detective executed a search warrant for Burgess's Facebook account, which revealed several statements where Burgess indicated he was running from the police and expresses concern about being "caught," records say.
PORTAGE TOWNSHIP — A mother and her boyfriend have been charged with felony kidnapping after fleeing Saturday evening with her two children, both of whom had been removed from her care out of concern about their welfare, Porter County police said.
Danielle Ostrander, 31, and David Allen, 56, both of Chesterton, allegedly fled with the two children shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday during a supervised visit at the McDonald's along U.S. 6 in South Haven.
Police then spent four hours hunting down the children, fearing the mother would attempt to make good on a plan to flee back to Tennessee.
Allen knew during the four-hour investigation where the missing children were located, which resulted in him being charged with an additional misdemeanor count of false informing, according to court records. He is accused of falsely claiming he had not seen Ostrander "for some time" and that she no longer lived with him, police said.
Ostrander told police she disagreed with Indiana Child Protective Services taking her children nine days earlier and fled with the children because they were so upset, according to police.
The supervisor of the visit told police they had gone to the restaurant for dinner and to extend the amount of time Ostrander could spend with her children. Ostrander took the children to the restroom to change a diaper and then never returned, the supervisor said.
Ostrander had been vocal about her opposition to the state's child welfare agency placing her children in a foster home, police said. She "doesn't believe they had the right to do so," the supervisor said.
Ostrander had temporarily lost custody of her children "due to Danielle not having stable means of transportation or housing accompanied by educational neglect," police said.
Police obtained a surveillance video from inside McDonald's and discovered that a man, later identified as Allen, showed up and helped Ostrander leave the restaurant with the children.
Police said they began pinging the location of Ostrander's cellphone and reached out to her friends and family. After learning she was dating Allen, police reached out to him, and he initially said Ostrander no longer lived at his residence, police said.
Ultimately, Allen told police Ostrander had called and asked him to pick up her and the children from McDonald's.
"He stated that she took the kids because she misses them, and she is all tore up about them being taken from her," police said.
Ostrander and Allen each face two felony counts of kidnapping, and Allen faces a further misdemeanor count of false informing, police said.
MUNSTER — A student at Munster High School was taken into custody early Monday for making threats against the school in a social media post, police said.
The post contained a picture of a gun with text that read, "Don't go to the school tomorrow," police said. The teen faces a potential intimidation charge, pending approval from the Lake County prosecutor's office.
"The Munster Police Department would like to thank the parents and the children in our community for helping our department quickly resolve this situation to keep our children safe," police said.
School officials were notified by Munster police of the threat after the student had been taken into custody, said Angela Jones, an attorney for the Board of Trustees for the School Town of Munster.
Additional police from the Munster Police Department were on hand during the school day Monday, Jones said, though classes proceeded as usual.
Jones said it's too early to say whether the district will bring its own disciplinary actions against the student.
"Anything that happens of this nature can and should and will be taken very seriously," Jones said.
The attorney said parents and staff were notified of the situation via an all-call and emails. She said the district is now cooperating with the police department and prosecutor's office.
Jones encouraged the Munster community to reach out directly to the Munster Police Department in the future with any fears of potential school threats. Students and parents can also report concerns through the school's "Stop It" smartphone app, Jones said.
"It's very upsetting," Jones said. "We're very thankful someone took this seriously enough to report it. We encourage that behavior. It might be questionable behavior — if you see something, say something."
Staff writer Carley Lanich contributed to this report.
GARY — A Belgium art collector is suing the Gary Community School Corp., the city and others for allegedly reneging on a $20,000 winning bid he placed for a district-owned wooden Picasso sculpture in early 2019.
The original Picasso model — given to American Bridge at Gary Works to sculpt the "Chicago Picasso” — has been on display at the Gary Career Center gym for many years.
Last year, the school district began auctioning off its art pieces to shore up much-needed funds. The district is required by state law to give notice to the mayor before selling assets.
Jean-Christophe Scheere, of Brussels, Belgium, placed the initial winning bid on the statue, but the school district then reneged.
Scheere also lists auction company, Kraft Auction Services, and Paul Terrault — a Twin Lakes, Wisconsin businessman who won the sculpture in a second bid for $40,500 — as defendants in his lawsuit.
The suit contends the city, school district and Kraft Auction Services wavered to the demands of some community members, who were upset over the bidding process.
Scheere claims that caving to that public pressure, the school district illegally put the model back up for auction without informing Scheere.
After the second bidding period closed, it was announced that the model had been sold to Terrault, of Wisconsin, for $40,500.
The suit, filed in Porter County Superior Court, claims the parties involved conspired to and intentionally hid from Scheere that bidding had been reopened.
The lawsuit states initial bidding opened Jan. 19, and Scheere received notification from Kraft Jan. 22 congratulating him for being the highest bidder.
Scheere wired money for the purchase the next day, the lawsuit alleges.
Kraft: Mayor cannot stop sale
In January, Scheere’s name appeared in local media outlets as the winner of the sculpture.
Shortly after news spread that someone from Belgium secured the winning bid, Gary Councilwoman Rebecca Wyatt, D-1st District, told the media she inquired whether Mayor Karen-Freeman-Wilson was properly notified of the sale.
Indiana law requires the district’s state-appointed emergency manager to notify the mayor of any sales of assets or transfers of property 30 days in advance. An itemized list is not necessarily required under state statute.
The mayor acknowledged receiving notice but that it did not include an itemized list, the lawsuit states. Around this time, a public meeting was held on the issue where Wyatt and other “concerned citizens” resoundingly objected to the Picasso sale.
The suit states Kraft emailed Scheere on Feb. 11, acknowledging receipt of payment for the sculpture but also that there would be a delay in the sale because of an apparent failure by the district to properly notify Freeman-Wilson.
In the email, Kraft reassured him the delay was only temporary and that there were no issues with the purchase, court records show.
“The notice to the mayor is a (courtesy) gesture really, and she cannot stop the sale,” Kraft wrote.
Kraft sent the above message with the full knowledge that bidding was reopened and that it would remain open until at least Feb. 28, the suit states.
‘Politics of it all’
A week after Scheere was informed of his winning bid, the bidding was reopened through Feb. 28. Then, after receiving no bids, the district extended it again to March 15.
Kraft Auctions Services relaunched the auction for the Picasso twice without informing Scheere or publicizing it, the lawsuit alleges.
Finally, on March 14, the day before the second, extended bidding period expired, Kraft sent an email to Scheere admitting it was intentionally hidden from him that bidding had reopened, the lawsuit alleges.
“So I never explained the full issue we were dealing with because didn’t know if you’d understand the politics of it all, though now you need to hear the complexity so you can make decision on what you want to do,” Kraft wrote.
Kraft continues, writing that the mayor and a new emergency manager, who was overseeing the liquidation of assets, asked him to repost the Picassco piece to “give any of these concerned citizens” an opportunity to bid.
“Their initial thought was no one will make an offer and to keep the sale to you and we are done,” Kraft continued.
“Well that all changed now that some of concerned citizens have gotten together to make an offer and plan on donating it to a local museum for public display. The museum actually is the one who made the offer on it. The offer was also more then you paid for it too, and that makes it difficult too.”
Scheere’s attorney contends his client is the rightful owner of the model, and wrote numerous letters to the school district’s attorneys threatening legal action for breach of contract beginning this spring.
CROWN POINT — A Chicago man was wanted Monday on charges alleging he was driving drunk with his 12-year-old child in the car when a state trooper clocked him going 105 mph on I-65.
Faisal Malik, 41, took a portable breath test with a result of 0.173 while waiting for the child's mother to arrive during the traffic stop late Wednesday near U.S. 231 and Interstate 65, court records allege.
Malik also failed field sobriety tests, records say.
After the mother picked up the child, Malik returned to his car and accelerated toward an Indiana State Police trooper, records allege. The trooper jumped out of the way as Malik made a U-turn and fled south on I-65.
The trooper chased Malik at more than 149 mph, the top speed the trooper's cruiser can reach, but lost sight of him near I-65 and Ind. 2.