The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Cops, courts and fires

July 9, 2014

Elwood woman's death ruled a homicide

Coroner: Victim died of blunt force trauma to head, chest

ELWOOD, Ind. — An Elwood woman's death is being ruled a homicide after an autopsy confirmed she died of blunt force trauma to the head and multiple injuries to the chest.

Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay confirmed Wednesday night after examining the body that Linda Speer's death was not natural.

"It's a very sad, very tragic situation," Dunnichay said.

The chest injuries are similar to stab wounds from a knife but Dunnichay said she couldn't tell from the initial report whether a knife or some other sharp object was used.

Speer's daughter found her mother's body at 11 p.m. Tuesday at Speer's home in the 1800 block of North C Street in Elwood and called police.

Neighbors said they hadn't seen Speer, 66, in a couple of days. Dunnichay said she couldn't give an exact time of death but estimated Speer was killed sometime between midnight Sunday and Monday afternoon.

Speer lived by herself in the home.

Judy Shaw lives next to Speer on C Street and said she's known her for years and years. Shaw said she didn't hear anything from Speer's house until the police showed up and said she hadn't personally seen Speer since last week.

Shaw said Speer was a very sweet and kind woman who trusted everyone.

"It just boggles my mind that something like this would happen, especially to her," Shaw said. "She'd do anything for anybody, give them the shirt off her back."

Shaw and other neighbors all said the neighborhood is safe and nothing like this has ever happened before. But the incident had an effect on the community.

"I stayed up all night shaking," Shaw said. "You don't think something like this would ever happen here."

Shaw said Speer had no enemies that she knew of.

She did say Speer was a little too trusting. Speer used to rent out apartments and Shaw said she would rent to just about anyone who wanted a place to stay.

Elwood police said the death was suspicious and were at the house collecting evidence Wednesday morning but declined to comment beyond that. They were waiting for the autopsy results before starting a homicide investigation. So far no motive or explanation has been offered.

City of Elwood spokesman Jeff Howe said the investigation is still ongoing and said no arrest had been made as of Wednesday evening.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.

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