Reward offered for info on Griffith woman’s kidnapping and homicide
By Ruth Ann Krause and Christin Nance Lazerus For the Post-Tribune April 22, 2013 1:52PM
Updated: May 24, 2013 6:22AM
GRIFFITH — Family members of Mary Austgen and police pleaded with the public to come forward with information leading to the capture of her killer at a Monday afternoon press conference announcing a $10,000 reward outside the Griffith Police Department. The reward was offered by the ATF and private parties.
The St. John resident, 76, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the abdomen in her 2011 Yukon Denali, which was parked at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary, around 2:10 a.m. March 29. Griffith and Gary Police said she was attacked and kidnapped at gunpoint from her Griffith business, located at 801 E. Main St., around 5:40 p.m. the previous evening.
Griffith Deective Lt. Matt Argadine said police have received 40 to 50 tips since releasing security camera footage from Austgen’s Griffith business. Due to the volume of tips, police have received assistance from other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, ATF, and the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force, Argadine said.
Jeff Austgen described his mother as “selfless” and “very loving” and became emotional at various points during his statement.
“This type of crime should never happen to anyone,” Jeff Austgen said. “We urge you to do the right thing. Maybe you think your neighbor looks like the suspect, but you worry that is isn’t him. But what if it is him?
“Police need your help to find answers, bring closure to our family and justice for Mom.”
Argadine said police are also looking for the person driving a four-door black vehicle who picked up the suspect in the valet parking area around 6:45 p.m. They are not sure if it was a man or woman.
“We don’t know a lot of details, but we know somebody is out there,” Argadine said. “We need to know who these people are.”
Argadine confirmed that police are checking current and former employees and tenants of Austgen’s business.
Argadine said Austgen’s SUV was parked in an area of the garage without cameras, so police haven’t been able to determine whether she was shot before or after the vehicle arrived around 6 p.m. on March 28.
Police also released photos of two rings of Austgen’s that showed up at local pawn shops. Argadine said she also had money on her, but it wasn’t taken by the suspect.
Anyone with information may contact Griffith police at 924-3141 or the anonymous tip line at 922-3085, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tipsters also may contact Gary police Detective Lorenzo Davis of the homicide division at 881-4738 or the Gary police anonymous tip line at (866) 274-6347. Individuals also contact the ATF at 1 (800) ATF-GUNS.