Man's body found inside Piatak Meats cooler in Merrillville

November 5, 2013 6:28:54 AM PST
The body of a Northwest Indiana man was found inside a cooler at a meat company in a case investigators called a homicide. The body was discovered Monday at Piatak Meats in Merrillville.

Andrew Fugate was found shot in the head. He is the son of one of Piatak Meats' co-owners and was a long-time employee. Police believe the motive was robbery and do not yet have any suspects.

Investigators were called to a long-time Merrillville meat store just after 7 a.m. when the store manager discovered one of Piatak Meats' employees shot to death. Twenty-seven-year-old Andrew Fugate was found on the cooler floor.

"He is my partner's son, he's worked here about 10 years. He was the guy who made all the hamburgers and sausages in the business," said Leo Roccaforte, co-owner, Piatak Meats.

Fugate arrived at work at 4 a.m. Police say he was in the process of making food when someone managed to get inside.

"We believe from the evidence in the scene that he went in, started his daily 4 a.m. routine of food processing. And it was at some point, somebody gained entry to the building. There's no signs of forced entry," said Robert Byrd, Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.

No signs of forced entry, but police say there were signs of a robbery.

"There were signs, in the offices of the business, that there was an attempt to forcefully gain entry to certain aspects of that. We don't believe anything has been taken," said Byrd.

Piatak Meats has been in business for over 100 years, and it's been at this location since 1959. The company's co-owner describes his partner's son Andrew as a good employee and good person.

"Very good kid. He's quiet, and I don't think he had no enemies or anything like that," said Roccaforte.

Piatak Meats did not have any surveillance cameras, so police are asking neighboring businesses for their surveillance images. Police are also asking the public for their help and ask that they call police if they saw anyone in the area on foot between 4 and 7 a.m. on Monday morning.

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