Cold case arrest in 1979 Gary murder

December 18, 2007 3:54:26 PM PST
Twenty-seven years ago the body of 8-year-old Kenneth Conrick was found in a wooded area of Gary, Indiana. Tuesday, police announced this cold case has been solved.

A man from Maine, David Bruce Bowen, has been charged with the boy's killing. DNA evidence apparently helped police crack this murder case, leading to Bowen's arrest.

When Kenny Conrick was killed DNA testing had not advanced enough to help solve his case. But the Lake County forensic team thoroughly collected and preserved the evidence so that bodily fluid on Conrick's coat and skin cells on the cord that killed him were enough -- 28 years later -- to match a suspect.

Beneath snow covered woods in Lake County, Indiana, lies a murder scene of an 8-year-old boy. The case, dormant for years, now nears a conclusion.

"In 1979, the technology wasn't there. So they couldn't take it a step further at that point. Now, perhaps in cases that we see now, technology is there and we can go deeper," said Bernard Carter, Lake County prosecutor.

Lake County officials announced charges Tuesday in the murder of Kenny Conrick.

"For Kenneth Conrick, I pray and hope that his spirit is here with us today, that he knows that we never gave up on him," said Sheriff Roy Dominguez, Lake County, Indiana.

On October 15, 1979, the 8-year-old went missing near his Gary home. Police and family searched. Two weeks later his body was found. Conrick was naked with a foot tied to a tree behind the Gary Salvation Army center. He had been strangled, beaten, missing several teeth, and his genitals were severed.

No one was charged until now. Tuesday, police in Maine arrested Bowen, who had been a suspect year ago.

Bowen had been a 16-year-old paperboy in Conrick's neighborhood in 1979. Years later after the murder, Bowen's sister called Lake County Sheriff's Department with her suspicions that Bowen Killed conrick At the urging of retired detectives, evidence from the scene was compared with Bowen. And there was a match.

"We just felt all the while that we had the right suspect. But of course at the time, it was a juvenile, and the parents have gotten an attorney, and wouldn't let us talk to him anymore. But we pursued it. We thought about the case for years," said Retired Det. Sgt. Ed Swike, Lake County Sheriff's Dept.

"It could be one year or 30 years. You will come across a case sooner or later that will stick with you. You just want to see justice done. You don't want to have any other kids have that happen to him," said Retired Lt. John Lashenick, Gary Police.

According to the Lake County prosecutor, Bowen was accused of molesting and beating another boy a year before Conrick's murder. But the parents of that victim agreed to not press charges, if Bowen got psychiatric treatment.

If Bowen waives extradition, he could be brought back to Indiana in a week.

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