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Jay Given was a municipal attorney, husband and father of three children when he was murdered on May 15,1981, at the former Elk's Club building in East Chicago. The homicide case remains open today. 

It's an era of Northwest Indiana politics showing corruption at a despicable zenith.

Nearly 40 years later, the slaying of Jay Given in the entryway of an East Chicago nightclub should serve as a reminder of where we never again should go as a Region.

But it also demonstrates a systematic, lingering infection that continues denying justice in one of our Region's highest-profile homicides.

Times reporter Allie Kirkman reminded us of the circumstances Sunday in her latest installment of the "Crimes that Rocked the Region" series.

Given was a politically connected Region attorney and power broker, particularly in East Chicago politics.

He rose to prominence in the 1970s and early '80s, first as an ally and adviser of then-East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick, and then as a foe of the mayor, whose administration had become synonymous with the worst elements of public corruption.

Many believe Given became a victim of political enemies.

On May 15, 1981, as he stepped away from a political fundraiser to smoke a cigarette, a bullet passed through his head, leaving a hole in a glass door of the nightclub.

Someone with access to the East Chicago police evidence locker made sure that what one investigator believed was a "very solvable" case wasn't so solvable after all.

A bullet casing that could have led back to the shooter was deliberately damaged by someone with access to what was supposed to be a secure area of the Police Department, police have said.

Cops even had a prime suspect — one of their own. A then-deputy chief of police carried a reasonably rare handgun the likes of which was used in the Given slaying, police said. That deputy chief was at or near the scene of the homicide that night, police have said.

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That same cop also failed a polygraph lie-detector exam in the case, police have said.

But 40 years later, charges remain unfiled in a case that involves the highest level of crime.

The Given homicide occurred amid one of the most politically corrupt eras and locations in Region history.

Cases like the Given slaying should remind us all where we've been as a Region, and from whence we never should return.

It's why our local U.S. attorney's office must remain steadfast and aggressive in prosecuting public corruption cases at all levels of government.

It's why municipal employees and citizens with knowledge of public corruption crimes and ethical breaches should report such matters early and often to authorities.

On that May night in 1981, a man lost his life, in all likelihood because of politics. The specter of public corruption continues to keep the case unsolved to this day.

Perhaps the Given case needs a new champion with fresh eyes in the law enforcement community — someone willing to reopen the homicide probe with a renewed push for justice.

And we all must be champions for keeping public corruption at bay.

None of us can allow a climate in which such circumstances thrive to ever blow back into our Region again.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.