Remains found in house may be missing boys
December 10, 2003
BY SHARLONDA L. WATERHOUSE
HAMMOND, Ind. -- Michael Dennis and James Raganyi left notes with their families Sept. 10 saying they were running away from home.
It appears they didn't get to Florida, Texas, and California as they had planned. On Tuesday, a police investigation into a house the boys often visited turned up a gruesome discovery.
Two bags of suspected human remains, believed to be 13-year-old Michael and 16-year-old James, were excavated from the basement of an Ash Street home after a 10-hour search-and-dig mission by city police and a county forensics team. The body of a third, unidentified teen may also be among the remains.
Hammond Police Chief John Cory confirmed in an evening news conference that a probe into the vanishing of "three male individuals" led police to the basement of a gray and white two-story home on Ash.
There, police, acting on search warrants, reportedly found freshly poured concrete in the basement, and beneath it, the remains.
The chief did say a "person of interest" has been taken into custody and was being questioned at the city police station Tuesday night.
The man, who neighbors said works in Illinois, is believed to be a resident who rents the Ash Street home and may have been among the last to have contact with the missing boys. He has been under police surveillance.
The chief, however, refused to identify the remains or the suspect, saying more information would be available at a news conference this morning.
Cory said officers used a ground-penetrating radar to locate the remains and then brought in a cadaver dog.
Lake County, Ind., Coroner David Pastrick said forensic engineers had been searching the home all day as part of "an ongoing investigation."
He later said, "We've found two bags which we think contain human remains." Pastrick then corrected that statement saying "one bag does contain human remains."
He said he wanted to take the findings to the county morgue and have an autopsy performed today.
"We'll have more to say in late morning or early afternoon," Pastrick told the a crush of media, which had camped in front of the house with neighbors all afternoon.
Copyright 2003, Digital Chicago Inc.