Fort Wayne brothers charged in woman’s death


NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Police have arrested two Fort Wayne men for the death of a woman nearly three years ago.  The body of Erin Justin from Fort Wayne was found in Bartley Lake in Noble County in late July of 2011 by a fisherman.

Wednesday Press Conference: Noble Co. officials announce the arrests made in the death of Erin Justin.
Wednesday Press Conference: Noble Co. officials announce the arrests made in the death of Erin Justin.

Noble County Prosecutor Steven Clouse said a tip led them to who investigators believe may have killed Justin.  Andres Gonzalez Jr. of Fort Wayne was arrested for murder and removing a body from a scene.  His brother, Victor Manuel Gonzalez of Fort Wayne, was arrested on charges of assisting a criminal and removing a body from a scene.

On March 11, 2014, the Noble County Sheriff’s Department got a call from a woman who said her niece had information about Erin Justin’s death.  Days later, an Indiana State Police Detective interviewed Colleen M. Gonzalez.  She told the detective she is married to Victor Manuel Gonzalez, and that Victor’s brother is Andres Gonzalez, Jr.

Around June 19, 2011, she says Victor told her that Andres had him assist in getting rid of a woman’s dead body by dumping it in a lake and tied it to a block to keep the body under the water.  Colleen said his description reminded her of news stories that she heard about Erin Justin.

Victor’s wife told police the Gonzalez brothers used Andres’ car to move the body of Erin Justin to the lake. Earlier in March, a Noble County Judge issued a search warrant for that vehicle.

Erin R. Justin
Erin R. Justin

Police met with Victor and he told investigators he helped his brother Andres Gonzalez by putting Justin’s body in the trunk of Andres car and drove to Port Mitchell Lake in Noble County where the two had fished before.  Victor said Andres had kept the woman’s body in his garage under cardboard and plastic and that it smelled and the woman was cold to touch.  He says his brother told him he had attacked Erin Justin and that he choked her.

The two used a rental boat and loaded up the dead body.  Victor and Andres attached a block to her dead body.  Victor took police to the home where Andres was living at the time: 3801 Holton Avenue, Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Police searched that home and the layout of the garage and the home was exactly as Colleen and Victor had described.

On March 22, police interviewed Andres Gonzalez Jr.  He told police he picked up Erin Justin on Bluffton Road during June of 2011 and took her to his garage where he attacked her.  Andres told police at one point while he was attacking her, Justin became unresponsive and he thought she was dead.  He said the next day he called his brother Victor Gonzalez to help him get rid of the woman’s body.

Andres Gonzalez, Jr. appeared in court at 1:oo p.m. where it was determined he’ll be appointed a public defender.  A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for May 20, 2014.  Until then he’s being held in the Noble County Jail without bond. He had been working at Brunswick in Fort Wayne for three days prior to his arrest.  Before that he was unemployed for a year.  

Victor Gonzalez has hired a private attorney and his next court date was scheduled for May 15, 2014.  His bail was set at $100,000.

 

The information below is from previous coverage on the death of Justin. 
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After Justin’s body was found, authorities believed Justin may have been camping in the area.

An autopsy performed at the St. Joseph Medical Center in Fort Wayne on Thursday, July 21, 2011 positively identified the body as Justin.  Her address was listed as the 1700 block of West Main Street in Fort Wayne.

“The investigation into Ms. Justin’s death is being handled as a criminal investigation,” stated Noble County Prosecutor Steven Clouse back in 2011.

In 2011, detectives said efforts were focused on determining how Ms. Justin’s body ended up in the small Noble County lake and what caused her death.

Bartley Lake is approximately 34 acres large, located south of Port Mitchell Lake, which is about seven miles south of Albion. A channel connects the two lakes. Officials conducting the investigation sought to speak with anyone who may have camped in the Port Mitchell area or fished the Port Mitchell or Bartley Lakes between June 18, 2011 and July 20, 2011.

“Although you may not feel you have significant information, it is possible that something you saw or heard could lend assistance into how Ms. Justin died and how her body ended up in Bartley Lake,” explained Prosecutor Clouse. “I strongly encourage the community to call the Noble County Sheriff’s Department at 260.636.2182 and allow Detectives to ask them a few questions. Their help could be immeasurable in solving this case.”

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