KOKOMO TRIBUNE STATE SUNDAY, JULY 25,1999 C3 A life forever changed by rumors • Mike Nardine was suspected by residents in the killing of a college student. By JAMES PRICHARD Associated Press Writer VINCENNES, Ind. - For nearly two years, the investigation into the unsolved slaying of Vincennes University student Brook Elizabeth Baker hung like a big, dark cloud over Mike Nardine. While Baker's family grieved and resolved to find her killer, many of the 20,000 residents of this southwestern Indiana city grew to suspect Nardine was involved in her stabbing death. Nardine, 46, Baker's landlord and a police officer at VU for nearly 16 years, never was charged in the Sept. 7, 1997, killing, But that didn't prevent him from becoming the target of rumors, speculation and baseless accusations. He's at a loss to explain exactly how it all started. He was among more than 60 people who submitted to DNA testing - his sample didn't match DNA found at the crime scene - and among more than 400 people interviewed by investigators. 'There's probably very few people, that if my name was mentioned today in this community, that would not connect me with ,the Brook Baker murder investigation," Nardine said during an interview at his home. Before the arrest of Baker's alleged killer, a television station once interviewed several VU stu- • dents and asked them who they believed was responsible. All of them gave Nardine's name, which was bleeped out of the broadcast On Leeza Gibbons' nationally broadcast television talk show, a psychic who toured Baker's rented three-bedroom home boldly concluded, without mentioning Nardine's name, that "the landlord did • it" Few in Vincennes didn't know ' who she meant. \ Soon, a trip downtown or to the grocery for Nardine meant more [i stares, more whispering, more ^pointing. Once, in a Wal-Mart .' i store, a child who wanderelS next* to Nardine in an aisle suddenly .was yanked away by the boy's nervous mother. , "It'll never be the same, my reputation," Nardine said. "My family .has suffered a great deal, and i they'll be scarred for life, in my opinion." :• It took one family's tragedy to trigger the talk about Nardine and another's to mark its end. The i investigation into the July 4 disap- j pearance of Erika Elaine Norman, another Vincennes University student, led to an arrest in the Baker killing. Norman, 21, was last seen alive leaving a Vincennes hotel lounge with Brian Jones, 22, of Vincennes, early on July 4. A body found Tuesday in a southeastern Illinois cornfield was positively identified as Norman's on Thursday. Jones, a former VU student was questioned about Norman before her body turned up and told investigators that he knew Baker. He agreed to submit a DNA sample, which authorities said matched DNA taken from the Baker crime scene. He was arrest-, ed and charged with murdering and raping Baker. ' Charges have not been filed in the Norman case. Before Jones' arrest, Nardine decided one way to help lessen the suspicion surrounding him was to keep working at his job and living his life as normally as possible. He also thought it was best to decline reporters' requests for interviews. "I wanted my privacy," he said. "I had nothing to do with this, so, therefore, I thought maybe this all would go away. It escalated that first week unbelievably. And the bad thing was, it never went away!' But Laurel Nardine feared for her husband's life when he left for work. He patrols the campus dur- *• 1 i s . ' -. u'V ., B'ftt''<f * -iw** wX ^~ , , X '$ ' ^ fiu "^:j,^fs' v >;$$$•'-;.•—•<• K " ; IT ^gS*--i.~» ^^«B>-^VBKa>BH'aKlHilMM«MitallUB«>MMiit*MM**^_«^^^^aMW^^^M»B.^^^ HH ,^^^^^ H ^^^^ H ^m(g2^^ M ^ Mike Nardine, right, and his wife, Laurel, of Vincennes discuss their ordeal when he was a suspect in the murder of Brook Baker. (AP photo) ing the graveyard shift "You don't know how many nights I prayed for him because I was scared to death that he would go to work and not come home," she said, fighting back tears. 'The only thing that got me through it was I prayed every night I prayed for his safety. And I still do that I still do that every night he goes to work." The Nardines said they believe Tuesday, July 27 • KOKOMO TRIBUNE DAY an apology from the city is in order. Mayor Howard Hatcher, however, said Mike Nardine wasn't the only person questioned by police who became the subject of gossip around town. I coupon coupon coupon coupon coupon coupon coupon | I KOKOMO TRIBUNE I Michigan City nixes train whistles MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) Michigan City has become the latest Indiana community trying to silence the whistles of passing trains. The City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance that prohibits train whistles from blowing at crossings equipped with both gates and lights from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The Indiana Department of Transportation must approve the ordinance before it takes effect Under the ordinance, the sounding of whistles at guarded crossings is still permitted in cases of an emergency such as a motorist driving around gates as a train approaches, Baker said. Trains must continue to blow whistles at all unguarded crossings. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District spokesman John Parsons said Wednesday any whistle blowing restrictions pose a public safety risk. NICTD operates the South Shore Railroad, which runs passenger trains daily through Michigan City between Chicago and South Bend. "Warning somebody after they drive around a gate may be too late," Parsons said. t5*| ( "*i • r\ /*™ • •'• f • • • j ••••••••• }ll/24' ; -/ * * vs. 'i • •?• County 4MH Fair ',[ ' ' ' ,/"> •/'-' • ••.•••••••4<I»»B • <•'•• •'.<«•• • * ••••••»*»« rn'm. » > • •'•"• •'(••• •,• • • •••••• •',• •,« • | I S §li i! >,• hi Ride • ,«Yv!. j man §• DAY at the Howard County 4-HFair , , 8 Tuesday, July 27, 1999 f 1 1 s UIIVI PUGHSHWS •» ix *t H--S ISr-***, i Ri ;«;;>-Ai : i,H'VMM.^ f~< r.^.v.^U ^ ,^i>- 1 *^»)fiisjf«r*» •> , i «^,"U f /!^ o,. •• nvs>l',c , •„ ,t ' -^ for an Unlimited ". * r each \>v I .-^ !B'!I 'America^ Finest;Midway"' = Midway Opens at 1 pm Coupon redeemable Tuesday, July 27. Only at § Coupon Booths on Midway. This coupon good "S for $3.00 Off regular $15.00 price, One Coupon y necessary for each participant. No Duplication - g 1 coupon per person - Wrist bands will be sold .§ until 8:30 pm & can be used until 10 pm. 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