UPDATE: Man with stab wounds found near homicide scene

Gary police investigate a homicide late Sunday at the Ivanhoe Nature Preserve in the 200 block of Hobart Street in the city's Brunswick neighborhood. Fernando Verduco, 26, was found stabbed to death in the back seat parked on the property, officials said.

GARY — Police are investigating a possible connection between the fatal stabbing of a man found about 10 p.m. Sunday in Gary and the stabbing of another man found about an hour earlier and three miles away waving his arms at cars on Cline Avenue.

Fernando Verduzco, 26, was found dead in the back seat of a car at the Ivanhoe Nature Preserve in the 200 block of Hobart Street, according to the Lake County coroner's office.

The preserve sits at the end of Hobart Street, just south of the Indiana Toll Road in Gary's Brunswick neighborhood.

Lake County sheriff's police were dispatched about 9 p.m. to the area of Cline and Chicago avenues for a suspicious person and located a 26-year-old Bridgeview, Illinois, man with stab wounds, department spokesman Mark Back said.

The man told officers that two friends asked him to give them a ride to another person's residence to collect money for a debt, Back said.

The man said they arrived at the residence and he was handcuffed, stabbed and thrown in the truck of his 2000 white Acura. The man could not describe the people involved in the stabbing or recall the location of the residence, Back said.

The man told police the vehicle eventually came to a stop and he escaped. He claimed several people stole his cellphone, wallet, vehicle and fled, Back said.

Police were unable to locate the two friends, Back said. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Gary police were dispatched about 10 p.m. to the 200 block of Hobart Street for a suspicious vehicle, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.

Officers found a man dead in the back seat of a gray four-door Acura that fit the description of the suspicious vehicle, Back said. The man appeared to have stab wounds similar to those suffered by the 26-year-old found on Cline Avenue, he said.

The man was pronounced dead at 11:02 p.m. at the homicide scene, according to the Lake County coroner's office.

"Any connection between the two cases has yet to be determined," according to a sheriff's news release.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call Detective Alex Jones, of the Lake County Metro Homicide Unit, at (219) 755-3852. To remain anonymous, call (866) CRIME-GP.

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Times staff writer Lauri Harvey Keagle contributed to this report.