Whiskey bottle links driver to hit-and-run victim

Howard George Lininger
Mug shot of Howard George Lininger provided by the Allen County Sheriff's Dept.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne police have made an arrest in a hit-skip accident that took place on the evening of November 18 that killed a 25-year-old woman who was walking along Maplecrest Road. An unopened whiskey bottle was a key piece of evidence in the investigation according to details in the probable cause affidavit.

Howard George Lininger, 84, has been charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death.

The whiskey bottle was found inside Lininger’s Subaru Outback and had the palm prints of the victim, Haley Marie Nancarrow. Nancarrow was recorded on a surveillance camera at a nearby liquor store buying the whiskey a short time before the crash.

Nancarrow was pronounced dead at the scene after a man walking home spotted her lying in the street and flagged down a passing Indiana State Trooper. Investigators determined she had been struck by a vehicle near the intersection of Maplecrest and Georgetown North Boulevard. Friends told police she had been visiting family and was walking to a friend’s house to get a ride back home when she was hit.

Nancarrow’s body was found lying in snow about about five feet from the white fog line that marks the side of the road. She was wearing a dark coat.

Haley Nancarrow
Haley Nancarrow

Based on information from witnesses, police began looking for a small truck or SUV, reddish or brown in color. An older white man with gray hair had been seen pulled over near the accident with his hazard lights flashing. However, he drove off a short time later.

On November 19, officers located Lininger’s 2001 Subaru Outback after getting a call from the New Haven Police Department. Lininger had contacted his grandson, a New Haven police officer, to get advice about an incident he had been involved in. The grandson suggested Lininger contact Fort Wayne police.and when he saw news reports about the fatal hit-and-run and the description of the vehicle said to be involved he checked Lininger’s Subaru and saw the damage. The grandson then contacted his supervisor who called Fort Wayne police.

Officers went to Lininger’s residence in New Haven that day and examined the Subaru. They noticed the hood was damaged above the passenger headlight, the side mirror was broken and dangling by a wire and the windshield was smashed. That same day Lininger, accompanied by his grandson, was interviewed by Fort Wayne police officers. Lininger claimed he picked up an unopened whiskey bottle that he thought had been thrown at his car near the location where Nancarrow was hit and that’s what caused the damage. However he said he didn’t see the body. Nancarrow’s autopsy showed injuries consistent with someone who had been hit in the area of the damage to Lininger’s Subaru.

Lininger told officers he didn’t inspect his Subaru that evening, or the next morning when he drove the car on his newspaper delivery route. In the probable cause document, officers found it “illogical” that he was able to take the time to find the whiskey bottle, but didn’t see Nancarrow’s body or the damage to his Subaru. Investigators believe Lininger circled around the crash site and knew he had been in a crash with someone and decided to leave.

Detectives also found other inconsistencies in Lininger’s story, including that he had taken the whisky bottle from the scene so he could give it to police, yet he never reported the incident to them.

Police arrested Lininger Monday evening. He was being held on a $10,000 bond and has been ordered not to drive.

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