The Times from Munster, Indiana on November 4, 1984 · 33
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The Times from Munster, Indiana · 33

Munster, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 4, 1984
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i hi i l zz- t z 1 . '- l l l r T t t : : ' : ; ; : : 7 7 : t , t t ? 7 : ? s ; ? 7 v v v v v v THE TIMES Sunday, November 4, 1984 B-15 E.C. CRIME SAGA Police By NANCY BANKS and RUTH ANN KRAUSE Times Staff Writers Hammond Police say they have no doubt former East Chicago Park Superintendent Henry (Babe) Lopez Sr. was murdered so he couldn't talk about some political activities. Detectives Dave Moulesong and Steve Summers said Friday they haven't changed their minds about the motive for the Lopez killing and can back it up by the facts of their eight-month investigation. Lopez, 49, was found Jan. 29, 1980. Shot once in the head, his body was found sitting in his city owned-car on the bottom of the Grand Calumet River in Hammond. Det Lt. Mike Solon said Lopez had told several people "he wasn't Will deaths go unsolved? ( Continued from Page A-l ) enemies easily. He was well respected for his knowledge of municipal law, but not known for his tact in dealing with people. At the time of his murder, he had been dismissed by Pastrick as special counsel for the sanitary board, and was believed to have been building a new political force. Given, who wasn't known for appearing at political fundraisers, was reportedly at the Spann gathering to forge a political alliance with the county commissioner's backers. He bad been city attorney from 1963 to 1973. But after that, he advised Pastrick and served as legal consultant for the sanitary board. Before he was removed as sanitary board consultant. Given had been involved in a political controversy with a faction of the city council. A block of five coun-cilmen had refused to approve projects Pastrick sought as long as Given was involved. Part of what Pastrick wanted at the time was sewer user fees. Given and Lopez each died of a single gunshot wound to the back of the bead, but the similarities in the two crimes stop there. Given was killed as people were coming and going in the well-lighted vestibule of the building. Police think Lopez was killed in the dark, early morning hours as be sat in the driver's seat of his city-owned car. . Hammond Police Det. Lt. Michael Solon said the Lopez investigation "is continuing." He has recently discussed the case with federal officials and is hopeful yhat are the benefits of Catholic higher education? You find JO""1 S4 ' ' Nov.8th 6:30 to 8:00 P.M. feel Lopez murder has going to go down alone." Summers and Moulesong said despite strong rumors circulating through the city administration after Lopez's murder, they found no indication that Lopez had been involved in drug trafficking or stolen autos. Although police could find no one -within the city government who would say Lopez was killed because of his job-related activities, they said Lopez was running scared, that be confronted someone who decided he was too big a risk, and that he had to be eliminated. Police said their investigation indicated Lopez was disturbed because be felt he was losing his job in disgrace, thought there was the possibility that he was facing a prison term and was afraid he was going to lose his life. He had told of further developments. Detectives Steve Summers and Dave Moulesong said they questioned more than 100 persons during the eight months following the discovery of Lopez's body on the Hammond side of the river near Kennedy Avenue. Detectives said although they aren't actively working the case, it remains open because no one has been charged. Many of those questioned in the Lopez murder were later called before a special Lake County grand jury empaneled in November 1982 to gather evidence in the Given murder. Last week, special prosecutor Joseph Van Bokkelen said an indictment in the Given murder "is close" and could come within four months. Because of legal limitations, however, the grand jury was dismissed without being asked to issue any indictments. This isn't the first time it was announced that there would be charges in connection with Given's murder. Van Bokkelen, whose Highland law firm has been paid $29,200 to date for the investigation, told The Times in September 1982 that an indictment was imminent. Lake County Prosecutor Jack Crawford said both cases are extremely important. "Every reasonable lead that I know of has been followed up," he said. "I would say the Lopez case is not as dormant as some people might think," Crawford said. "There have been some developments within the last year and a half." Crawford said he took the Given, case and not the Lopez case before are invited to out. College Fair several persons he was going to talk about what he knew was going on in city government Mayor Robert Pas trick, who had appointed Lopez and who suspended him from city government on the day of his disappearance, couldn't be reached for comment Pastrick has previously said he dismissed Lopez because he wouldn't answer questions by the Indiana State Board of Accounts. Although detectives are not actively investigating the case at this time, Solon said about two months ago he contacted federal officials to discuss the case. He wouldn't identify which federal department he had contacted but said it wasn't in connection with a park board audit He said he is hopeful that contact will lead to further developments in the case. "It (the murder) had to do with a grand jury because the circumstances surrounding the crimes were different. There were potential witnesses to the Given murder, while only the perpetrators witnessed the Lopez killing, Crawford said. The grand jury proceeding allows witnesses to testify in secret about what they may have seen or know about the crime. Crawford said he thinks some witnesses "are not telling us something they know." Investigators have said they think the Given murder was spontaneous rather pre-planned. Crawford and police describe Lopez' murder as an organized crime killing because it is believed that more than one person was present in the car, the fatal bullet was fired from the back seat, a basketball-size rock was found on the floor near the gas pedal, and the car was pushed into the river. In the Given case, key evidence the .45-caliber slug and casing was altered while in custody of the East Chicago Police Department. "It is clear in our minds there is police involvement in that important, essential evidence in the case the bullet and shell casing were tampered with while in police custody," Crawford said. Former Deputy Police Chief John Cardona has been mentioned as a suspect in the murder. He has denied any involvement Cardona was dismissed from the force by the East Chicago Board of Safety in August 1983 after being found guilty of two disciplinary charges brought by former Chief Stephen R. (Robert) Stiglich. activities of his job," Summers said. "There were multiple motives but it was money and jobs." Moulesong said "it was more than a little coincidential that a letter was delivered to his (Lopez's) house dismissing him from his job the same day he turned up missing." Lopez never saw the letter, but there had been strong rumors that Pastrick was going to fire him. The Board of Accounts was conducting an audit that showed $9,575 in park department funds were missing when Lopez was last seen on Dec. 12, 1979. Although Edelmire "Corfi" DeJesus was a chief suspect in the Lopez slaying, police don't consider that DeJesus' May 1980 murder in East Chicago closed the Lopez investigation. Son says By RUTH ANN KRAUSE Tunes Staff Writer EAST CHICAGO - Jeff Lopez remembers his father as a hardworking man who believed in East Chicago and often conducted business from the back of his car. It wasn't unusual for Henry (Babe) Lopez Sr. to carry files and other papers in the trunk, his son said. "He was the kind of person that if you asked him a question, he was going to try to give you an answer right there and then," Lopez said. Henry Lopez's body was pulled from the Grand Calumet River in Hammond on Jan. 29, 1980, about sue weeks after his disappearance. Lopez had been shot in the back of the head. The day Lopez disappeared, a letter from Mayor Robert Pastrick was delivered to his home notifying him he was no longer park superintendent. Lopez never saw the letter, police said. The files that were in the trunk of Lopez's city-leased car on Dec. 12, 1979 the day he disappeared were never recovered, Lopez said. Lopez said his father wasn't the kind of man who expected to be repaid for a favor. Instead, Lopez can recall his dad putting on a pair of jeans and pitching in to get a baseball field ready for a regional tournament. "If he did something for you he did it for you because he cared about you or he cared about it and ft "The economic recovery has surpassed every expectation with more jobs, low inflation and high productivity. We're a strong nation with pride in what we make and vhzl we do. I wili continue to represent your interests in the important business and industrial issues." Congressman Bud Hillis. political Police said there were other people involved in the actual murder and in ordering the Lopez killing. In addition, they said previous reports linking a gun clip found in DeJesus' pocket to the Lopez murder were incorrect. The spent bullet used to kill Lopez wasn't recovered, but police said they don't think he was killed with the type of weapon matching the clip in DeJesus pocket. DeJesus had been described by police as a mob executioner. Solon said police do have a suspect who may have ordered the organized crime slaying. Hammond police said Lopez had given some park department records on expenditures to someone and told them if anything happened to him to turn the information over to police. Police wouldn't Lopez loved E.C. that was it," Lopez said. "It was nothing like, 'OK, now I did this for you, now you're obligated to me.' " The fact that nearly five years has passed since the murder doesn't lessen the family's desire to know the motive for the crime. "I'd love to find out why it happened, how it happened, what were the reasons behind it" Lopez said. Lake County Prosecutor Jack Crawford said he feels the same. Crawford said the Lopez murder is one of three unsolved cases that keep him awake at night. The other two are the May 1981 murder of former East Chicago city attorney Jay Given and the torture-slaying of a Calumet Township boy named Kenny Connrick. Crawford described the Lopez murder as a "gangland-style hit" that helps perpetuate Lake County's negative image as a lawless "Dodge City, shoot 'em up" place. "There are two cases that ought to bother people in Lake County, Indiana," Crawford said, referring to Given and Lopez. "It's frustrating to me because sometimes they don't bother people as much as they should." Lopez, however, is bothered by the fact that nearly $30,000 has been spent for a special prosecutor who for two years has led a special Lake County grand jury investigation into the Given murder. "It's foolish to say we're not upset." Lopez said. "When they got to a dead end (on the Lopez BudHillis cares about jobs. On November 6th, Re-elect Congressman BudHillis. Your Representative . . . representing You. Paid f(x by tfie Hillis for Congress Committee. James Meek, treasurer. angle identify the person who gave them the records. Hammond police are in charge of the investigation because Lopez's body was found on the Hammond side of the Grand Calumet River, near Kennedy Avenue. He had been missing since Dec. 12, 1979. Police divers stumbled on his car Jan. 29, 1981 as they were searching for another car that had reportedly gone off the bridge. Evidence indicated Lopez was shot once, in the back of the bead, his body was propped up in the driver's seat, a large rock placed near the gas pedal, and the car pushed into the river. Police said they can pinpoint, within one-half hour the time of his killing. They believe he was killed early the morning of Dec. 13. case), mayoe tney snouid have called a grand jury of something like that to get things rolling, to keep it in the limelight." Crawford said all reasonable leads have been exhausted and there are no suspects now. He said one person believed to have been involved in the murder Eldimiro (Corfi) DeJesus was killed in an alley in East Chicago in May 1980. "The fact that he's dead doesn't mean the case is necessarily closed," Crawford said of DeJesus, who had ties to car theft in the Calumet Region. If DeJesus was involved, he didn't act alone, Crawford said. But Lopez said there was no link between his father and organized crime. "When a person's dead, now it's easy to talk about them. I can't buy that." If Babe Lopez was involved in illegal activities, Jeff Lopez said, the family would have noticed money floating around. The senior Lopez never owned a home, wasn't a flashy dresser and didn't take expensive vacations. Since Babe Lopez's death, the steelworkers he knew from Inland Steel still keep in touch with the family. Lopez said it's 'a shame his father died at a time when he was one of the few Hispanics in the city administration. "I think he did a lot for the city," the younger Lopez said. "Some people are born into success, are Born into money. He believed in getting the job done." v W-J. lAJLAAA

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