Reward still being offered for tips to solve 1975 murder

Photo of Laurel Jean Mitchell provided by Indiana State Police.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Cold Case investigators with the Indiana State Police are asking the public for help in solving a murder case that happened almost 40 years ago in either Kosciusko or Noble County.

According to Detective Kevin Smith, then 17-year-old Laurel Jean Mitchell was last seen leaving work at Epworth Forrest in North Webster around 10:15 p.m. on August 6, 1975. She was found dead the next day in the Elkhart River in rural Noble County.

Investigators think identifying a group of young people who may have performed as a singing group at the Cokesbury Inn inside Epworth Forrest that night may help them move forward on the case.

“They would’ve been leaving at the same time,” Detective Kevin Smith with the Indiana State Police said. “It’s a fairly isolated area. Maybe, they saw something.”

Police believe there were four or five girls and boys in the group around the ages of 16 to 22. Police think the group was from the Delphi, Indiana area. The group is thought to have traveled in one vehicle, and it’s believed that they stopped at the North Webster fire station at around 10:30 p.m. that night after performing at the Cokesbury Inn.

There is still a reward available for information that helps solve the case. Anyone with information on who the members of the singing group are or anyone with any other information on the Laurel Jean Mitchell case can contact Detective Smith at (260) 403-2841 or at (260) 432-8661.


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