FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – He was arrested on Monday for the November hit-and-run that left a 25-year-old woman dead and on Wednesday, 84-year-old Howard George Lininger pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Lininger has been charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death for the November 18 accident that killed Haley Marie Nancarrow.
Also in court on Wednesday was Nancarrow’s mother, Jennifer Dawkins. She asked that everyone refrain from posting their opinions on social media about the crash.
“I’d like to ask everybody for – just to refrain from posting on social media,” Dawkins said. “I know everybody has opinions on this case – just know that there are families on both sides that see these things and we just need to let the justice system play out.”
“It was a tragedy all around. I’m sure that day he didn’t get up in the morning and think something like this was going to happen. I’m sure his family are just as devastated by this as Haley’s family is… It’s a tragedy for everyone involved.”
Nancarrow was pronounced dead after she was seen lying in the street near the intersection of Maplecrest and Georgetown North Boulevard. Investigators determined she had been hit by a car. 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.
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.
The next day, 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. When the grandson 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.