2 Indiana Men Arrested in 1975 Cold Case Murder of Teen Girl Found Dead After Vanishing From Church Camp Job

blurry police car siren lights of red and blue

Laurel Mitchell, 17, was reported missing in 1975 when she never came home. The next day, her body was found by a fisherman.

Two Indiana men were arrested on Monday in the decades-old cold case killing of a teen girl.

Fred Bandy Jr. and John Wayne Lehman, both 67, were arrested on Monday for the murder of 17-year-old Laurel Mitchell, according to WSAZ 3.

Mitchell was last seen leaving the church camp near North Webster Lake where worked around 10 p.m. on Aug. 6, 1975, officials said. When she never arrived home, her worried parents reported her missing

Her body was found the next day by fisherman in the water of a conservation area, about 17 miles from the camp, NBC News reported.

The autopsy report showed the teen drowned, but her body also showed signs that she put up a "violent struggle" to fight off whatever she was facing, WSAZ reported. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the case eventually went cold. 

Then in 2019, a Noble County Sheriff’s Department detective said a man told him that Bandy and Lehman admitted to him at a party that they killed Mitchell together, according to WSAZ. The two men were arrested after the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division was able to use DNA to link the men to the crime, WANE reported. 

Police believe that the two men put Mitchell in their vehicle before driving her to the location where they drowned her, according to WSAZ.

“While the arrest of these two individuals is a very important step, this isn’t the end. The investigation of this crime is still ongoing and the prosecution of these defendants has just begun,” Noble County Prosecutor Jim Mowery said.

Both Brandy and Lehman have been charged with first-degree murder and are being held with no bond, according to court records. 

Brandy has pled not guilty, his attorney told Inside Edition Digital.

Related Stories