Details released in Starke murder, carjacking case
STARKE Co. — Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff released the details of the case surrounding Gary Chavez and the murder of his estranged wife Kimberly Chavez today (Wednesday, June 11.)
According to the probable cause affidavit, the Starke County Sheriff Department's 911 Dispatch center received a call at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, June 6 from Bryant Wagner, a man who claimed to have been kidnapped in the parking lot at Bailey's Discount Center in North Judson.
Wagner told law enforcement officers that he was sitting in his truck in Bailey's parking lot when he was approached by a man with a big silver revolver. According to Bryant, the man, later identified as Chavez, pointed the gun at him, used profanity and told him to move over and not to raise his hands.
Wagner told the police that the man was a skinny, white male with long brown hair. Wagner also said that the alleged suspect had a scruffy face, mustache and what appeared to be red paint or blood on his jeans.
Wagner said he complied with the man's alleged demands and moved into the passenger seat. Wagner said the man jumped into the truck and exited the parking lot at the shopping center.
Wagner told police that while he was in the vehicle, Chavez allegedly told him, "I killed my wife and I'm on the run."
Wagner said Chavez also made several calls while he was driving Wagner's car, but only one person picked up the call. Wagner said Chavez allegedly confessed to the person on the other end of the line that he had killed his wife. "I beat Kim to death and I'm on the run."
Wagner said Chavez drove him to a spot near a river in the English Lake area. According to Wagner, Chavez said the area was too populated and he left and turned into a driveway on C.R. 650 West, just south of the river.
While Chavez was parked at the residence, two vehicles pulled into the drive, a red pickup driven by Julie Wilson and a Jeep Cherokee driven by Rick Boisvert.
According to the witnesses' testimony, Chavez got out of the vehicle and approached the two vehicles that pulled in.
Wilson and Boisvert told police that the man, who was later identified as Chavez, told them he needed to talk to them. The witnesses said that when Chavez drew near, he allegedly was holding a gun and demanded the key's to Boisvert's vehicle, the Jeep Cherokee.
Boisvert surrendered his keys and Chavez drove away from the English Lake residence.
Boisvert told police the man was a tall, skinny white man with long hair.
Starke County Sheriff's Department Detective Robert Olejniczak said he showed Wagner, Wilson and Boisvert a photo array and all three identified Chavez as the man who allegedly committed all the acts that they reported to police.
Olejniczak said he went to Bailey's Discount Center and Kenny Bailey took him to a vehicle he believed to have been driven to the shopping center by Chavez.
Olejniczak said he saw laying in plain view on the vehicle's front seat a piece of mail addressed to Gary Chavez with the address 5110 E. 810 S. Knox.
The vehicle's registration came back as belong to Gary and Kimberly Chavez with a Portage address and the Knox address.
Olejniczak said that due to Wagner having told police that Chavez allegedly admitted to killing his wife, Olejniczak and Starke County Chief Detective Kenny Pfost and himself went to the residence located on 810 S. to see if there was an injured female.
Olejniczak said that he and detective Pfost did locate a female's body on the north side of the property that was covered up with a tarp. According to Olejniczak's report, there were no signs of life. Olejniczak said the victim also had apparent head trauma.
The female was later identified as Kimberly Chavez, the suspect's estranged wife.
Gary Chavez was stopped in Lake County Friday evening after leading police across four counties, and hijacking a third vehicle. Chavez shot himself in the face after the vehicle he was driving in became stuck in gravel and police were approaching the vehicle.
Olejniczak's report said an autopsy on Kimberly Chavez, which was conducted in Fort Wayne on Monday, June 9 by a Dr. Carpenter, revealed that the victim had died from multiple blunt force traumas, which caused a laceration in her carotid artery and her skull to become fractured.
Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff filed a formal charge of murder today (Wednesday, June 11) against Gary W. Chavez, 57, of Knox, for his alleged involvement in the Friday, June 6 slaying of his estranged wife, Kimberly S. Chavez, 50, of Portage.
Bourff also entered charges of Kidnapping, a Class A Felony, and Carjacking, a Class B Felony, against Chavez.
Porter County already had one count of carjacking, a Class C Felony, against Chavez and a warrant issued in Porter County for his arrest.
In Starke County, Chavez, if convicted, faces 45-65 years on the murder charge, 20-50 years for Kidnapping, and 6-20 years on the Carjacking charge.
Chavez is in Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. He was last reported as being heavily sedated and in critical condition.
Bourff said the suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.