GARY, Indiana, March 23, 2016
INVESTIGATOR: Commander Matt Eaton, Lake County Indiana Sheriff’s’ Department
SITUATION: Lake County, Indiana had the longest cold case in its history. In 1979, Linda Martin was strangled to death and left in a snow bank in Gary, Indiana. After 14 months of hard investigation the case went cold. In 2014, thirty-five years later, Lake County sheriff’s’ police Commander Matt Eaton ran across the cold case and decided to retry the DNA test from their evidence vault. There was a 1 in 1 billion chance the test result would lead Eaton and his team to L.C. Strong, but the test yielded a positive match and a trial was set. Strong at the time was incarcerated at the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Michigan for an unrelated murder case and was brought back to Indiana for extradition.
INVESTIGATION PROCESS: Leading up to the trial, investigators and the prosecution diligently began compiling all the evidence. “We knew he did it, we just didn’t have a confession,” said Eaton. So Eaton and his team began monitoring Strong’s calls using Telmate’s secure, live monitoring phone system, recorded calls, and Telmate Investigator. When they overheard phone conversations where they learned that Strong was going to testify in his own defense, the lead investigator immediately told the prosecutor. The tip-off enabled the prosecutor to tailor her cross examination, which ultimately led to a unanimous guilty verdict from the jury. “He confessed to a prior murder in the presence of a jury and it swayed their guilty verdict,” Eaton said. “Had we not heard these phone calls, there’s no way the prosecutor would have been able to uncover the last piece to this puzzle.”
OUTCOME: Guilty verdict, and 50-year sentence