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Young mastermind behind Portage killing sentenced, recognized for helping crack the case
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Young mastermind behind Portage killing sentenced, recognized for helping crack the case

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VALPARAISO — "I hate you for what you did," Stephanie Saucedo said between sobs Wednesday morning to 17-year-old Roderick Silas, who is one of three Gary defendants involved in a robbery that resulted in the death of her sister.

"You set her up," she said.

While Silas was painted during the sentencing hearing as the mastermind behind the Nov. 19, 2019, killing, when he was 15, he was also the one who helped police crack the case quickly and led officials to the body of Adriana Saucedo, officials said. Her body was found at an abandoned elementary school in Gary.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer acknowledged that unusual level of cooperation when sentencing Silas to 29 years behind bars with eight years to be suspended and served on formal probation.

The sentence fell short of the 35-year term with five suspended that was sought by prosecutors.

Join Tristan DeFord, Jami Rieck, and Nancy Zakutanksky on a shift working for Superior Ambulance in Merrillville.

"You can do with this what you want to do with this," DeBoer said, responding to Silas' claims to want to improve his life. "You have got every opportunity to do that."

Police said Silas and co-defendants Jonathan Brown, then 17, and Shaun Thompson, then 16, picked up Adriana Saucedo at her Portage apartment on the day of the shooting under the false claim of selling her marijuana. They stole $80 from her and drove to the parking lot of the nearby Frontier building at 2059 Crisman Road in Portage, where Thompson shot her inside the vehicle, authorities said.

After the shooting, the trio traveled to Horace S. Norton Elementary School, 1356 Harrison Blvd., in Gary, where they dumped Saucedo's body before heading off to McDonald's and Pizza Hut to eat, police said.

Silas pleaded guilty in December to a felony count of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury in return for prosecutors dropping counts of aiding, inducing or causing a murder, and murder in perpetration of a robbery.

DeBoer sentenced Thompson in May to 50 years behind bars with the same requirement as the others of serving 75% of the term.

Brown was sentenced by the same judge last month to 24 years behind bars with six years suspended to be served on probation.

Silas stood Wednesday and apologized to family members of Adriana Saucedo, who attended this and each public hearing as the case progressed.

"Adriana did not deserve what happened to her," he said.

Silas also apologized to his own family and court staff.

Saucedo's oldest sister, Paula Biller, said her family continues to suffer each day and night in the wake of the killing.

"I still have nightmares about that night, and I hope you do, too," she said.

"You have forever changed all of our lives," Biller said. "She did not deserve what you did to her. She never did anything to you."

Stephanie Saucedo said, "I hope I can forgive you one day. I can't right now."

While acknowledging that Silas helped police solve the case more quickly, Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan stressed the young man's role as the ring leader.

"He is responsible for it," she said. "It was his idea. It was his plan."

Public defender Bob Harper called up officials from the county juvenile center, who testified that Silas has been well behaved while locked up there the past 601 days.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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