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Kevin Campbell, Tiara Thomas

Kevin Campbell, Tiara Thomas

VALPARAISO — Accused murderer Kevin Campbell told police his son did not bring his mother's apartment key over when he came to visit, according to the lead investigator in the case.

"Not that I know of," Portage police Detective Dennis Meyers quoted Campbell as saying. "I've never seen the key before."

But Meyers said police found text messages between Campbell and his son just weeks before the shooting death of the boy's mother that read: "And don't forget your key" and "Make sure you bring your house key."

Campbell, a former Gary and Hammond police officer, is on trial on an accusation of murdering Tiara Thomas Nov. 18, 2015, at the Portage Park Place apartment she shared with her fiance and the three children she had with Campbell. Prosecutors have said the couple's relationship had deteriorated to the point of a "contentious breakup" and Campbell's child support obligation was increased to $1,400 a month shortly before the killing.

Campbell had kept the three children overnight at his home in Hobart the night before Thomas was killed.

Campbell's son testified last week that his father asked him as he picked up the children the day before the killing to bring along a key to Thomas' apartment. 

The boy also testified that on the day his mother was killed, his father discarded a grocery bag at a park while taking him from Hobart to school in Portage.

Yet Meyers testified Thursday that Campbell told him during an interview the day of the killing that he made no stops while taking his son to school and then denied it twice when specifically asked about the park.

"It was starting to become a little more argumentative," Meyers said when asked about Campbell's demeanor during that part of the questioning.

Brian Campbell, the younger brother of Kevin Campbell, told jurors Wednesday afternoon that he went with Kevin's wife to a park in Lake Station to see if they could retrieve a gym bag and shoes he reportedly left alongside or in a garbage can.

Neither he nor police ever found the bag in question.

Meyers also backed claims that it was highly unusual that Campbell took his children during a school week for an overnight visit. Meyers testified that Campbell had taken the children just five times during the prior three months and that all but the last visit were on weekends or days off school. He came to the conclusion based on surviving text conversations between Campbell and Thomas.

Meyers also testified that Campbell was unwilling to turn his cellphone over to investigators, who later received it from Campbell's father.

Kevin Campbell's brother, Michael Campbell, told jurors that Kevin was upset because he believed his child support money was benefiting Thomas' fiance.

The trial is underway before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.

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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.