2 men arrested in decades-old cold case murder of 17-year-old girl

Police say Fred Bandy, Jr. and John Wayne Lehman were arrested in the 1975 murder of Laurel Mitchell.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 8:00 AM AKST
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ALBION, Ind. (WPTA/Gray News) – Two men were arrested Monday in connection to a decades-old unsolved murder case in Indiana.

Fred Bandy Jr. and John Wayne Lehman, both 67, were arrested for the 1975 murder of 17-year-old Laurel Mitchell, Indiana State Police said Tuesday.

According to police, Mitchell left work around 10 p.m. on Aug. 6, 1975, but never returned home.

Her parents reported the 17-year-old missing, and her body was found in water in a conservation area the next day.

Court records said detectives found that Bandy and Lehman picked Mitchell up at some point that evening before taking her out of their car and allegedly drowning her.

An autopsy report showed Mitchell made a “violent struggle” to survive the drowning.

A Noble County Sheriff’s Department detective said he spoke with a man about the case in 2019, who said Bandy and Lehman admitted to him at a party that they had killed Mitchell together when the topic of her death came up.

DNA testing of Mitchell’s clothes eventually led officers to the arrest of Bandy and Lehman, police say.

“This case is a culmination of a decades-long investigation … and science finally gave us the answers we needed. Playing a significant role in the charges being filed was the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division. We simply could not have solved this case without them,” Indiana State Police Captain Kevin Smith said.