FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s been almost two weeks since a witness in a 2014 homicide was found dead. Railroad workers found Dreyden Troyer’s body near the train tracks just south of downtown Fort Wayne on March 11th.
The coroner ruled the death accidental, but it’s still left many unanswered questions. Why was Troyer walking on the tracks? Was it really an accident or some sort of retaliation for speaking out in a homicide case? Troyer’s fiance sat down with NewsChannel 15 to help shed some light on the story. He said it’s easy to make assumptions, but he wants people to know who the real Dreyden Troyer was.
Eby Shooting Background:
Troyer was a witness in the fatal Eby Avenue shooting back in September 2014. It was caught on surveillance video and showed dozens of shots being fired and killing John Holman. Marcus Lindsey and Charles Benson are both charged in the murder.
Court documents show Troyer was found in a car with Lindsey and Benson about three hours after the shooting. He was arrested for cocaine possession, but later told police the men he was with had recently committed a homicide. Troyer said he met the two men in the park near Lewis and Hanna Street after the shooting. Lindsey and Benson had moved their car to a nearby lot, so Troyer gave them a ride.
While at the police station, Troyer positively identified both Lindsey and Benson using a photo array.The two men were both arrested the next morning.
On the morning of March 11th, railroad workers found Troyer’s body near the tracks that sit just south of Parkview Field. An autopsy shows he died of blunt force trauma. Since the coroner ruled his death accidental, no foul play is suspected.
It’s a tragic ending to what Troyer’s fiancé calls a very difficult life. It started 25 years ago more than 8500 miles away in Russia.
“He had a really terrible upbringing. From what he can remember in Russia, he just remembers his mom didn’t come home one night,” Troyer’s fiancé Michael Fisher said.
Troyer ended up spending ten years in a Russian orphanage before he was adopted by a family from Elkhart.
It was just terrible though because there was no assimilation process. He said he got in trouble a lot because kids were always pointing and laughing. He said he learned most of his English by watching Veggie Tales,” Fisher said.
Fisher said Troyer’s adoptive father abused him.
“One day, the CPS came to school and took pictures of him, and he was covered from head to toe in bruises. They removed him from that home and from there, he just bounced from home to home,” Fisher said.
Troyer eventually came to Fort Wayne where he spent time in and out of the foster care system.
“It was something that just ate at him and ate at him. It’s a lot of pressure for a kid, and he never really got to be a kid,” Fisher said.
Fisher thinks Troyer met Lindsey and Benson at some point while he was in foster care. He ended up homeless at the age of 17.
“He ended up getting in trouble, and he stole some money. He ended up getting prison time for it, and spent the next three years in prison. He got out when he was 21,” Fisher said.
The night before the accident:
Fisher and Troyer met several years later and started dating. They were on a two month break when the Eby shooting happened.
“That’s when he had got into contact with some people that he probably shouldn’t have,” Fisher said.
Fisher calls that night a turning point for Troyer.
“He called me from jail and told me he’d had a lot of time to think and obviously, the path that he was taking was definitely a wrong one. He made some bad decisions and then he came back home and was doing real well,” Fisher said.
The two got back together after that- six months Fisher calls the happiest time of his life.
“We just got engaged, on the 7th of March,” Fisher said.
The night before Troyer’s body was found was supposed to be one full of life and love.
“We were out celebrating our one-year anniversary,” Fisher said.
Fisher said they were out at the Babylon Night Club when Troyer became agitated.
“I turned to pay off my bill and when I turned around, he was gone, and I just thought maybe he just went to the car,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t find him. I just thought, well he’s strongminded, strongheaded, he probably just walked home. He didn’t come home. Then I heard later that day, there was an accident downtown and I just had this awful, gut feeling.”
The next morning:
Troyer’s pre-trial conference was scheduled for the next day. When he didn’t show up for court, Fisher said he just knew something was wrong. That’s when he called the pastor who had been like a father-figure to Dreyden.
“I said Jerry I’m really, really scared for Dreyden right now. I said there had been an accident, and I hope that he wasn’t a part of that, but I have this feeling that Dreyden might have been hit by a train yesterday, and Jerry said, he did get hit by a train yesterday, Mike, I’m sorry he’s dead. It just killed me,” Fisher said.
Fisher said Troyer knew the tracks well from his time being homeless.
“I mean he’s walked the city of Fort Wayne probably north to south,” Fisher said.
Given the fact Troyer was a witness in a very high-profile murder case, it may be hard to believe his death was truly accidental. However, the coroner’s ruling is something Fisher firmly believes to be the truth.
“I know he didn’t jump in front of the train,” Fisher said.
Fisher also doesn’t suspect any sort of retaliation. Although, he said that was something Troyer always feared.
“He was worried about it. He was worried that there might be some repercussions from it.” “We weren’t out and about, and we kept a low profile because we didn’t know if something could come about of his testimony,” Fisher said.
Fisher said that backlash never came.
“Never once, never one time,” Fisher said.
Fisher said the coroner told him that the combination of wearing headphones, walking that close to the tracks, and very poor visibility that night more than likely led to the accident.
“He was wearing our engagement ring,” Fisher said. “You can see where the train was there because it didn’t knock the diamonds out, but it pushed them inside the ring. That’s where they found him the next day at 11:00. I just wish he would have waited and rode home with me. I miss him terribly.”
Fisher said despite Troyer’s run-ins with the law, he wanted nothing more than to be on the other side of the legal system.
“He wanted to be a police officer, and he would be great for it. I mean he was 6’4″, 235 pounds, strong as an ox. He was Russian, definitely Russian. It was my ruski,” Fisher said.
Fisher said the last two weeks have been nearly unbearable. He’s visited the make-shift memorial near the train-tracks nearly every day since the accident.
“It’s terrible, and it’s just an irreplaceable loss. It’s just awful,” Fisher said.
He said he’s finding some peace knowing the pain that so often took over Troyer’s life is no more.
“I just know he’s not struggling or suffering those feelings anymore.” Fisher said. “He wasn’t a bad person. He made mistakes, but we all make mistakes. We all have our demons, and he had his as well, but I think he was trying to finally get them put behind him, but it still just ate at him.”