Jury convicts man of strangling, burying girlfriend

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A jury has convicted a Fort Wayne man in the death of a Wisconsin woman whose body was found buried in a hole in the basement of a Sherman Boulevard home in February 2015.

Franklin J. Dent was found guilty of murder, moving a body to obstruct an investigation and being a habitual offender in the strangling death of his girlfriend, Jessica Fecht. Fecht’s body was found in the basement of a home in the 1500 block of Sherman Boulevard on February 5, 2015. She had been buried in a hole in the basement and covered with dirt and debris.

Franklin John Dent

Police said Fecht’s family lost contact with her in January 2015 and her father filed a missing persons report January 20.

Officers went to her last known address, but didn’t find her. They told the landlord of that house that Fecht was missing. Then in February, police said the landlord went into the house on Sherman to prepare it for new tenants.

There, police said the landlord found a “significant change” in the foundation of the basement. When police went back to the house, they found Fecht’s body in a hole in the basement floor. She had been strangled.

Dent had initially faced trial in March 2016, but a mistrial was declared before any witnesses were called after Dent’s sister, Stephanie Dent, threatened to kill another sister if she testified for the state. The threat happened in a courtroom hallway, in earshot of potential jurors.

Stephanie Dent was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.

Dent will be sentenced later. He faces up to 106 1/2 years.