In the past 10 years, police have looked into more than 500 leads, collected hundreds of fingerprints and DNA samples and interviewed thousands of people in their mission to solve the murder of a woman and child in a Franklin home.
But one angle keeps coming up: five burglaries committed around the time of the 2006 murders, including one the same day Blake and Chynna Dickus were killed.
The home break-ins aren’t a new angle, but they are one that police have never been able to disprove. And the lead detective on the case thinks they could be the key to figuring out who killed Blake and Chynna.
“We believe there is a correlation between the two,” Franklin Police Detective John Borges said.
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“If we’re able to solve the burglaries, we hope we can solve the murders.”
Police continue to say the case is very solvable, once they get the right information. And though 10 years have passed, the murders are not a cold case, especially since police have investigated 35 leads in the last year and spent more than 560 hours working it.
That continued interest comes as a huge shock to other police agencies, who struggle to get even a handful of tips on their own cases, Borges said.
“Our community wants to help,” Borges said.
The strongest theory is that a series of burglaries nearby in the two months before the murders, and one burglary a year later, are related. Police have not been able to disprove the connection and will continue investigating it until the burglaries are solved and shown not to be connected, or solved and provide leads or lead to an arrest in the murders, Borges said.
“We have strong reasons to follow the burglary angle,” Borges said.
The burglaries were unique because each had a screen cut in a T-shape, which police had not seen in previous break-ins and have not seen since, Borges said. All of the burglaries happened during weekdays, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and all were in neighborhoods within a half-mile of the Dickus home — Branigin Woods, Oakleaf Manor, Cumberland Commons and Deer Trace, he said.
The burglars were not seeking high-dollar items, such as electronics, and often instead took more insignificant items, such as coins, a Tupperware pitcher and a class ring. And at some of the break-ins, the homes were ransacked, and the burglars took time to get food out of the refrigerator, which is rare since most thieves want to get in and out, Borges said.
What that means, police aren’t sure yet. But they have discussed whether the burglars could have been young, or had a diminished mental capacity, he said. But investigators also have kept their focus broad, and while they have theories, they are open to multiple possibilities, Borges said.
Borges would not discuss evidence collected at the burglary scenes or the Dickus home, but said they have collected some strong evidence.
“Solve the burglaries, and you very possibly solve the murders,” Borges said.
So once again, police are asking residents to think back to when the murders were committed 10 years ago.
They want to know of anyone who was known for breaking into homes at the time. They want to know if anyone found their home ransacked or their screen cut and didn’t report it. They want to know if residents ever saw someone in their neighborhoods looking into cars or wandering around, especially during the day time, he said.
Even if a memory seems minor, police want you to report it, he said.
And police know that could result in lots of calls and tips — and that is exactly what they want, Borges said.
“It’s not going to inconvenience us to look at just one more thing,” he said.
“If anyone remembers anything, call and let us sort it out.”
They are also asking residents to watch out for anyone whose behavior changes around the anniversary, where they become obsessed with news coverage of the murders, or are suddenly nervous and irritable, or you notice them smoking, drinking or using drugs more.
“Each one of those could mean something,” Borges said.
Experts the police have worked with, including the FBI, seasoned homicide detectives and the Vidocq Society, which helps solve crimes, have said this is likely a local event — meaning this wasn’t a serial killer traveling the country. The killer, or killers, spent time in the area. They may have lived here for a while, and could even still live here now, he said. But police also look at all tips, even those from far away, he said.
During the last decade, the case has continued to be a priority for the police department, which has had the murders featured on playing cards for inmates in Indiana prisons and on billboards in the county and offered a $25,000 reward for information.
Unfortunately, none of the hundreds of tips have provided the key piece of information police need to solve the case, Borges said.
That can get frustrating, such as when two detectives were sent to Florida because an inmate wanted to confess to the crime. Once they got there, they realized he was already doing a life sentence and wanted to be in an Indiana prison with air conditioning, Borges said.
And it is also surprising that no one has ever heard someone bragging about the case and reported it, for example, he said.
“It’s amazing it hasn’t come out,” Borges said.
If you know information about the murders of Blake and Chynna Dickus, contact:
Franklin Police Department: 317-736-5111
Detective John Borges: 317-346-1142
Anonymous tip line: 317-346-1100