07-01-2014, 12:30 PM #1
IN - Laurel Mitchell, 17, North Webster, 6 Aug 1975
On August 6,1975, Laurel Mitchell, 17, was last seen leaving work at Epworth Forest in North Webster in Kosciusko County at 10:15 p.m. The next morning, she was found dead in the Elkhart River in Noble County.
Now detectives need help identifying four or five young people, ages 16 to 22 at the time, who may have performed as a singing group at the Cokesbury Inn inside Epworth Forest the night Laurel went missing. It’s believed the group stopped at the town’s fire station at 10:30 p.m. for assistance with their vehicle.
“One of the subjects mentioned the town of Delphi that they were from. Just basically what we’re trying to do is find out who these people were from Delphi that may have seen something being that they were at the same location that this young girl worked at,” said Sergeant Kim Riley with the Indiana State Police.
At 10 p.m. Laurel was getting off work at a restaurant at Epworth Forest near North Webster. Her plan was to walk just down the road to Adventureland, a local amusement park. "She was to meet friends there, and she never made it there," says Knisley. "A friend saw her at the big stone columns and waved at her as she walked by the columns, and that is the last she was seen"...
Her body was found the following morning by some fishermen who were fishing along the Elkhart River near Diamond Lake in Noble County. It was found about 15 miles from where she vanished. An autopsy determined she drowned, but Laurel was a strong swimmer. Some of her clothes were found inside out. And newspaper articles from that time indicate there was evidence of rape and that she had bruises and scrapes. Her death was ruled a murder...
Police still look into the case, and they have their theories. "I don't know if it was a sexual assault that went to the next level," says Detective Sergeant J.D. Ayres with the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department, "because I think she knew who she was with." Knisley agrees. Her parents passed away last year without having learned the truth about their daughter. The hope is one day Knisley will know.
07-10-2014, 07:49 AM #2
Smith says he stumbled upon this information after talking with Knisley. Knisley had heard about the singing group from a family friend and the information was not listed in any of the existing case files. "From the story I got, one of the girls was very upset. She was hyperventilating. She saw something and that is why they stopped at the fire station to get first aid," says Knisley.
But, Smith says, this lead was a dead end. Smith says he interviewed a member of the group and "it is clear that this is not the group of people who stopped by the North Webster Fire station that night. None of the members of Celebrate the Son are from the Delphi area or ever stopped by the Fire Department," says Smith.
Still, Smith says someone stopped at the fire house that night and he hopes they have the information that could help solve this case. "I have no doubt the information is out there to solve this case, I just need someone to give it to me," says Smith.
10-26-2014, 03:14 PM #3
I grew up in this area of Indiana and remember this event from when I was a girl. People talked about it for weeks-they were so shocked that something like this had happened in North Webster. In 1975, the entire area was the type of place where you did not need to lock doors in the daytime and you could keep your windows open at night. There were/are a number of lakes in the area with summer cottages for rent. The area in the summer is very busy, the population increases, and teens could find summer jobs in many of the businesses. Adventureland had a putt-putt golf area, a giant slide, and some other kid-friendly rides. It was torn down years ago. Found this old postcard of the inn:
The " International Palace of Sports"in North Webster had opened a year or so earlier and was a huge tourist attraction.
In Pierceton, there was a Jellystone Yogi Bear campground. Pierceton to North Webster is about 9 miles. There were no taxis or busses back then. To get around, someone would definitely need a vehicle. You just didn't see hitchhikers.
Wawasee High school is in Syracuse. The school was built in the late 1960's and pulls its students from North Webster, Milford, and Syracuse. Syracuse is roughly 8.5 miles from North Webster on State Road 13- a winding road with several curves. You have to keep a lookout for deer crossing the road.
Last edited by rainwater; 10-26-2014 at 03:48 PM.Where is Shawn Hale? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/7546/0/ Missing from Apple Valley CA since 11/04/1994
Where is Michelle Crawford? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/14428/0/ Missing from Lawton, OK since 06/08/1999
Where is Jennifer Lee Schmidt? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/4822/0/ (Missing From West Lafayette IN(Purdue University) since 08/06/85.
12-14-2014, 07:56 PM #4Registered User
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I was looking around for other murders in the Northern Indiana area in the 1970s when I came across this thread. The reason, there is another unsolved murder of a girl in the area...although Indiana has never listed it as a cold case as far as I know.
Below is information on a 13 year old girl who was murdered just one hour away from where Laurel was murdered and about a year and a half before Laurel.
While the article below says there was no evidence of sexual assault, I believe there possibly was - Lori was found in an old outhouse, face down in the toilet with her pants pulled down, I believe she was stabbed in the throat, but I don't know if she was stabbed anywhere else - police were tight lipped about the evidence.. There may not have been evidence of sexual penetration though. Lori was last seen on the corner of the street just down the block from where she was found (and not far from where she lived). So, she disappeared within a half block of where she was last seen.
Also, Markle is a town of only about 1,000 people, like North Webster, I don't think many were afraid of much crime. This murder really shocked the community.
MARKLE, Ind. (UPI) A mobile headquarters has been set up in this Huntington County town for police trying to solve the mysterious stabbing death of Lori Brickley, 13, Markle. An autopsy disclosed the girl had not been sexually assaulted. Several persons have been questioned a second time since the mobile headquarters was established, but a trooper said the list of general suspects has grown rather than shrunk.
AUTOPSY ORDERED MARKLE, Ind. (AP)--An autopsy was ordered on the body of Lori Brickley, 13, Markle.'Who was found Thursday In a building at the back end of a vacant lot less than 150 feet from her home, police said. The girl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brickley, had been missing since Monday evening.
08-07-2015, 12:18 PM #5
It has been 40 years since Laurel was murdered. WSBT has a short video on the murder. No one says anything about DNA. She had been in the river. LE thinks she knew her killer.
03-26-2017, 11:15 PM #6
Who assigns the tags for this thread? Moderators or users? And how do the tags get decided? I am from the area and have been reading about the case. Just curious if the tags are pulled for specific reasons. For example: is Adventureland a tag just because she was walking there or has LE said they believe that is a connection.
03-27-2017, 03:04 PM #7
"Police think the answer to a 40-year-old murder case just might lie in Delphi."
... Smith added that if anyone from Delphi went to Epworth Forest for a camp or other event from 1974 to 1976, he wants to talk to them in hopes of gaining any additional information to help solve the homicide.
There is a reward for information in solving the case. Smith can be contacted at 260-403-2841 or 260-432-8661.
Reach Ben Middelkamp at email@example.com or 574-732-5117.
03-27-2017, 06:45 PM #8
Surprising the local investigators had a difficult time checking out the singing group from Delphi. It sounds like there must be some connection to that group.
When the news reports someone on the bus had to have medical attention, etc. because of something they saw it makes you wonder.
ETA: From the link a few posts back, an agent from the Indiana State Police was investigating the case in 2014. I hope ISP is taking another look at this case now.
Last edited by Betty P; 03-27-2017 at 06:50 PM.All statements are my opinion only.
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