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Indiana man charged with murder

A 49-year-old convicted murderer confessed to strangling a teen-ager whose body was unearthed along with two others from the man’s basement, Indiana authorities said Thursday.
An aerial view of a Hammond, Ind., home, where authorites found human remains since Monday, under freshly poured concrete. Jeffrey D. Nicholls / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A tenant in a rundown apartment house was charged with murder Thursday after a third body was discovered buried beneath a layer of freshly poured concrete in the building, police said.

The remains, discovered during a search for three missing teenagers, were found covered in heavy layers of plastic and duct tape. Police used a jackhammer and hand tools to locate and remove the bodies from the concrete.

The suspect, David Edward Maust, 49, has been in police custody since Tuesday. He has a criminal record that includes a murder conviction for the death of a 15-year-old boy in Illinois, authorities said. He also was convicted in Texas of committing bodily injury to a child, police said. Maust is scheduled for an arraignment on Friday.

Coroner David Pastrick said the victims were identified as Michael Dennis, 13; James Raganyi, 16; and Nick James, 19.

Two seen in September
Dennis and Raganyi were both last seen Sept. 10 at a home near where Maust lived in this northwestern Indiana city. The two teens were friends and had visited Maust in his second-floor apartment, a friend of theirs told detectives.

James, the 19-year-old, died of blunt trauma to head, Pastrick said, but strangulation or suffocation were the suspected causes of death for the younger teens.

Police Chief John Cory said Maust had confessed to killing Raganyi while drinking alcohol with him on Sept. 10. “As this young man consumed the beverages and became intoxicated, Mr. Maust did take a rope and did strangle this young man,” Cory said.

Detectives were expected to continue working in the house for most of the weekend collecting evidence, but Sgt. Christopher Matonovich, a city police spokesman, said they believed no other bodies were buried inside.

Drilled through concrete
“We drilled holes in the freshly poured concrete. A cadaver dog was brought out and did not hit on any additional spots in the basement,” Matonovich said. “We feel we dug up what we could and there are no more bodies in the basement.”

Holes were first drilled through the 12-inch thick concrete last Friday. Further digging on Tuesday revealed two of the bodies, wrapped in plastic and tied with cords and tape, a police affidavit said. The third body was removed on Wednesday.

Officers have also searched in and around the two-story apartment house using ground-penetrating radar equipment, Cory said. Tarps were hung between the house and the home next door, and newspapers covered a first-floor window to block views of the search.

The site of the search was just north of downtown Hammond, in a neighborhood of tightly packed, dilapidated homes. City officials said they have battled gang activity in the area and installed high-powered street lights in an attempt to curb crime.