Murders, missing people and an armed robbery top the list of local unsolved cases, but police know they could be one critical tip away from solving any of them.
The initial investigations are long over. Detectives have gathered evidence, conducted interviews and followed up on every available tip. But that wasn’t enough to lead to suspects or identify bodies in these five cases, some more than 20 years old.
Officers open the files from time to time to review the information that has been gathered, read interviews with family and neighbors and review physical evidence collected from the scenes. Once officers exhaust all of those leads and time passes, police may get only a few tips a year, if any at all. For the older cases, checking those infrequent calls can be as simple as opening the file and finding out they’ve already heard it, checked it out and found no connection.
But police hold out and wait for the information to come. Maybe people don’t realize something they saw around that time was relevant until years later. Maybe the person who committed the crime told a family member or friend who is now ready to talk.
Here’s some information on five unsolved cases local police said they still need help solving:
When: June 24, 2002
What happened: 19-year-old Brookley Louks went missing. She was last seen getting into her car with a man outside her father’s apartment in Yorktowne Farms off Stop 18 Road. The next day police found her empty car near State Road 37 and State Road 144 but didn’t realize she was missing. Her family later reported her missing, and she hasn’t been seen since. Police believe Louks is dead but haven’t located her body.
police at 882-9191.
The one man who might have known what happened to Brookley Louks died without talking to police in 2003.
Since then, police haven’t found any other trace of Louks, who has been missing for almost 12 years.
The 19-year-old was last seen getting into a car with a man outside her father’s apartment in Greenwood in June 2002. Police later found her empty car along the side of the road at State Road 144 and State Road 37 after her family reported her missing when she didn’t check in and missed work. Louks has never been seen since and is presumed dead.
The investigation into her disappearance led police to Joseph Nowicki, a White River Township man with a long criminal record, including a conviction for murder. He was spotted near her car the night she disappeared. Police searched his home and found traces of Louks’ blood on a desk in his workshop as well as a spot on the floor that recently had been chemically cleaned.
But Nowicki, who served more than 20 years in prison for shootings, an escape from prison and burglary, died of cancer in 2003. He was never charged in Louks’ disappearance.
If Nowicki knew what happened to Louks, the information died with him, her mother, Kim Louks, said. She thinks other people must have been involved because he would have been too sick to do it alone, Kim Louks said.
Police have continued to interview people and follow up on tips, including making a trip to Kentucky last year to check out some information. But no trace of Brookley Louks has shown up since then.
Someone knows, and whoever it is should tell police where Brookley Louks is, so family can find and give her a proper burial, Kim Louks said. Even if they report it as an anonymous tip, being able to find her daughter would allow her to finally finish grieving, she added.
“I hang in there and am trying to maintain, but I still have my nights where I just sit there and cry or hold her favorite shirt and fall apart. If I could find her and bury her, I think I could move on; but nothing has gotten better. People go on, but Brookley and our family hasn’t,” Kim Louks said.
When: April 17, 1993
What happened: Boys playing in a cornfield behind Shiloh Run subdivision near Interstate 65 in Greenwood found four bones in the field and showed them to one of their parents. The parent recognized them as human bones and called police. Officers uncovered additional skeletal remains in the field. Police originally thought the body was of a woman age 18 to 21, but DNA testing in 2010 determined the bones were from a man age 14 to 30.
police at 882-9191.
For years, police thought the bones found behind a Greenwood subdivision belonged to a young woman.
Police had tried to match the bones to missing women and never found a match. A new round of DNA testing in 2010 showed the bones likely were from a man between 14 and 30 years old.
But even since discovering the bones came from a man, Greenwood police haven’t found any matches to reported missing people.
In April 1993, two boys were playing in a field behind Shiloh Run subdivision, located south of the Interstate 65 exit at Main Street. While walking through the field, they discovered four bones and took them to one of the boy’s parents. The parent recognized the bones belonged to a human, not an animal, and called police. A different set of kids had found the bones once before in 1992 while searching for a baseball in the field and showed them to a parent, who said they were likely a deer and to put them back.
Police later recovered about 150 of the 222 bones in the unidentified human body. An initial forensic examination determined they belonged to a female, age 18 to 21. Police determined her body was likely dumped in late 1991 when the field was covered with corn. The farmer hadn’t seen a body during harvest and had used farm equipment to harvest the corn. He later tilled the field, which damaged the skeleton.
Police tried to match the bones to missing women, but they never matched because police had the wrong gender for more than 17 years.
Technology advanced, and Greenwood police sent some bone marrow for testing. Having a DNA profile would be needed to confirm a match if the case matched a missing person profile. That’s when they discovered the different gender.
Police were able to preserve DNA from the bones, so that when they find a match they can test it against a blood relative. Information about the bones has been entered into national databases of missing people as well as on popular missing person search websites.
“Up until recently, no one knew this skeleton was a male. For many years, it was believed to be a female,” Greenwood Detective Sgt. Eric Klinkowski said. “With the right amount of exposure, someone will come forward who is missing their relative.”
When: July 24, 2006
What happened: Blake Dickus, 10, and his stepmother, Chynna Dickus, were stabbed repeatedly in their Franklin home. Sean Dickus, Blake’s father and Chynna’s husband, came home from work and found both dead in the house. Chynna Dickus died from stabbing, while Blake died from blunt force trauma to his head and asphyxia.
Tips: Franklin police at 346-1100
A Franklin man came home to find his 10-year-old son and wife had been killed while he was at work.
Since July 2006, Franklin police collected evidence from the home, interviewed hundreds of people and formed a crime tip reward fund offering $25,000 to whoever can help police solve the case. But police still don’t know who murdered Blake Dickus and his stepmother, Chynna Dickus.
A few tips are reported and checked every year, but none of the information has ever led to a suspect. An annual car show in Blake’s memory helps keep up awareness about the murders, but the case is approaching 10 years old without being solved.
Sean Dickus came home from work on July 24 to find Chynna and 10-year-old Blake had been stabbed repeatedly in their home in Branigin Woods. Chynna Dickus had died from the knife wounds, while an autopsy showed that Blake was killed by blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxia.
Police investigated a burglary at a nearby home that might be related to the murder and were looking for any information about a man who was spotted carrying a pitcher of lemonade in the neighborhood. Police still believe that the burglary might be connected to the murders but haven’t been able to gather enough information about who might have been involved in those, said Franklin Police Department Sgt. John Borges, who was police chief at the time.
When police get tips, many can be eliminated because officers have investigated the same piece of information before. If the tips are similar but slightly different from past information, they’ll investigate until they hit a dead end, Borges said.
Each year police continue to ask people to call in with any information they might have. Even something from around the time of the murders that seems random, unconnected or insignificant could be the one piece of information that helps police find the killer, Borges said.
Blake’s mother, Christina Dickus, said it’s frustrating to be no closer to catching the killer now. Someone has to know what happened, she said.
“After being seven and a half years, there has to be more. That person has had to talk to somebody. How can somebody do that and live with themselves,” Christina Dickus said.
When: April 13, 1994
What happened: Two boys were searching through a trash can in Temple Park in Franklin for aluminum cans to recycle and discovered an infant who had been stabbed to death. Baby Hope was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Franklin, but her DNA has been preserved for future testing.
Tips: Franklin police at 346-1100
An infant who was stabbed and dumped in a Franklin trash can now rests in Greenlawn Cemetery, with a headstone that was paid for by community members who wanted to make sure she was remembered.
Twenty years have passed since the baby girl was found by two boys who were rummaging through trash at Temple Park looking for cans to recycle. Still no one knows who she is or who is the mother who gave birth to her. Police named the child Baby Hope and launched a search to find her mother and her killer.
Police searched school, hospital and counseling center records throughout central Indiana and interviewed people who could possibly be Baby Hope’s mother. They ran DNA tests on a few women, but none matched Baby Hope. They monitored surveillance video to watch who visited the infant’s grave to see if anyone was taking an unusual interest in the child.
Franklin police can’t identify the baby and have never been able to find the mother either, said Borges, who originally investigated the case. The killer could certainly be the mother, but it could also be someone else and the mother has not come forward to police for some reason, he said.
Someone likely knows who the mother is and who killed and dumped the girl, he said.
“It’s reasonable to believe that over the last 20 years that individual has confided in someone, and maybe a loved one or parent or a grandparent knows what happened,” Borges said.
Because the baby was never identified, investigators couldn’t talk to family, friends and acquaintances of the child. Some officers who were involved in the original investigation have died since 1994, so their familiarity and experience with the case is gone, Borges said.
But the police department has Baby Hope’s DNA on file, so if someone with information can help police find her mother, they’ll be able to test her for a match.
“We did not receive the tip we were hoping for. We do maintain good physical evidence on that investigation and believe we can solve that case with just the right tip,” Borges said.
Center grove area Home invasion
When: Oct. 2, 2013
What happened: Two men broke into a home in Kensington Grove subdivision near Center Grove High School. The men held the owner and his wife at gunpoint, tied their hands with zip-ties and stole a large amount of cash and jewelry.
Tips: Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at 346-4615
Before stealing cash and jewelry and fleeing in the early morning, robbers told the homeowners they should have been using a house alarm.
Police arrived shortly after the break-in this past Oct. 2 to find the homeowners tied up with zip-ties, an open window in the basement and several missing items.
Police asked for surveillance video from anywhere near the home in Kensington Grove but couldn’t find any footage of a suspicious vehicle leaving the area. Officers gathered evidence from the home and talked to the homeowners but didn’t find anything that led to a specific person. The homeowners, who were awakened in the middle of the night by armed men, didn’t get a good look at either of them.
Residents called in a few tips with suggestions, but none turned up any useful information. The trail for the two robbers went cold quickly, Johnson County Sheriff’s office investigator Bob Sexton said.
“It’s been extremely frustrating; and usually on a case like this you’ll have people that are talking and say, ‘So and so did it.’ We’ve gotten calls that said, ‘You might check this person or that person,’ and no good leads at all,” Sexton said.
The two men knew the home alarm was off and broke in through a basement window. They found a woman in the house and tied her hands behind her back with zip ties then led her around at gunpoint having her point out where the jewelry was and open a safe so they could steal money out of it. They went upstairs, woke her husband and tied him up too, while ransacking closets in the bedroom. The two men went through the house for about 30 minutes before leaving.
They didn’t harm either person in the house but made away with a large amount of cash and jewelry, police said. They were mostly calm while rummaging through drawers and closets, which made police think they either knew the victims or had researched the house extensively before robbing it.
Police weren’t able to gather much information after the burglary, but sometimes people are more willing to talk after time passes or realize later that something they saw or heard might be relevant, Sexton said.
“Things do surface after a period of a year or more, and you can get something to surface and start tracking it back,” Sexton said.