Goshen man arrested in connection with 1975 cold case






Fred Bandy Jr.


John Wayne Lehman

NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. – Indiana State Police have arrested two men in connection with the death of a teenager in 1975.

Fred Bandy Jr., 67, of Goshen, and John Wayne Lehman, 67, of Auburn, Indiana, were arrested in their respective homes on Monday.

At 10 p.m. on August 6, 1975, 17-year-old Laurel Jean Mitchell of North Webster left her job at Epworth Forrest Church camp on North Webster Lake but did not arrive home.

Her parents reported her missing at 4:16 a.m. on August 7 and around 10:30 a.m. that same day, her body was found in the water at the Mallard Roost public access site in Noble County, about 17 miles northeast of North Webster.

Her cause of death was listed as drowning but autopsy results showed Mitchell made a struggle before she died, according to reports.

When Mitchell left work on August 6, she planned to meet up with friends at the Adventureland amusement park on the north side of North Webster, about a half-mile away from Epworth. 

Mitchell is believed to have walked on Epworth Forest Road to get to the amusement park. 

A woman who lived on Epworth Forest Road said that around 10 p.m. on August 6, an old car turned into a driveway next door and then passed her house. As it passed, the woman said she heard several voices say, “let’s get” or “let’s get her,” according to reports. 

No arrests were made, and the case stayed open for several years.

In 2013, a woman living in Florida contact the Noble County Sheriff’s Department and said she was 16 years old and lived in Noble County in 1975. The woman said she went on a date with a man named John Wayne Lehman and he admitted to

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North Webster one step closer to closure following arrests made in 1975 cold case

NORTH WEBSTER, Ind.– A 1975 murder of a teen girl found in Noble County is one step closer to justice. After 47 and a half years two men have been arrested and charged two men in connection with the crime thanks to modern DNA technology and a few tips. 

The suspects identified as Fred Bandy, Jr., 67, of Goshen, and John Wayne Lehman, 67, of Auburn. Both men face one count of murder, and are currently being held without bond at the Noble County Jail.

On Aug. 6,1975, Laurel Jean Mitchell disappeared while going to meet friends at what was once the Adventureland theme park in town, after work in the quiet community of Epworth Forest.  

After all these years The Indiana State Police and the town of North Webster have not given up hope. Locals told ABC57, North Webster’s own Kevin Smith with the Indiana State Police Department has spent countless hours on the case. Tonight, he said in a press conference, he can sleep a little better, but his work is not done yet. 

The town of North Webster is overcome with joy of the news. In the tight knit community, even if you did not know the Mitchell Family, you know someone who did. Amanda Hare was not living in town at the time of the disappearance, but used to cut a member of The Mitchell family’s hair, she and everyone in her A K Hare Company, was filled with excitement after hearing the news. 

“all these years have gone by and I’m just excited the police officers stayed on it and will give everyone closer,” said Hare.

 In the tight knit lake town, where this sort of thing never happens, those still here all remember the news, and have not felt fully at ease since. Mary

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‘Sexually violent predator’ among two men charged with killing US teenager in 1975

Laurel Jean Mitchell was last seen leaving a church camp at 10pm on August 6, 1975, but was later discovered in a river, with autopsy results showing there was a ‘violent struggle’ to survive

Laurel Jean Mitchell’s body was found in a river shortly after she was reported missing by her parents on August 6, 1975 (Indiana State Police)

Two men have been charged with killing a 17-year-old girl in 1975 and one of them is a twice-convicted child molester.

John Wayne Lehman and Fred Bandy Jr, both 67, are accused of murdering Laurel Jean Mitchell nearly 48 years ago.



The young victim was last seen working at a church camp snack bar on August 6, 1975. She left at 10pm but never made it home.

Her parents Richard and Wilma Mitchell reported her as missing at 4.16am the same night. Hours later, the lifeless body of Laurel, of North Webster, Indiana, US, was found in the Elkhart River by a fisherman.

Fred Bandy Jr allegedly confessed to the crime while at a party (Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

A murder investigation was launched after autopsy results showed the victim was involved in a “violent struggle” to survive.

The Indiana State Police and Noble County prosecutors announced that there had been a breakthrough in the case in a press conference on Tuesday.

Indiana State Police Captain Kevin Smith said: “This case is a culmination of a decades-long investigation.

“And science finally gave us the answers we needed.

“Playing a significant role in charges being filed was the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division.

“We simply could not have solved this case without them.”

According to the probable cause affidavit dated 2 February, the victim decided to walk home after finishing work and refusing a lift from a friend.

The affidavit said she

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