What Indiana’s John Wayne Lehman, Fred Bandy, Jr. did to Laurel Jean Mitchell in 1975

John Wayne Lehman, 67, of Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana, United States and Fred Bandy, Jr., 67, of Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana are accused of killing Laurel Jean Mitchell of North Webster, Tippecanoe Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana. She died at the age of 17.

Mitchell is Richard D. “Dick” Mitchell and Wilma May Mitchell‘s daughter. Dick died on January 16, 2012 at age 81 and Wilma died on April 24, 2012 at age of 81.


At 10:00 p.m. on August 6, 1975, Laurel finished her shift at work at a church camp snack bar in North Webster and walked down to Adventureland, an amusement park about a half-mile away from the snack bar. She was supposed to meet friends at the park but she did not show up.

That night, Lehman and Bandy allegedly grabbed Laurel, put her in Bandy’s 1971 Oldsmobile, sexually assaulted her and drowned her. At around 10:30 a.m. on August 7, 1975, her body was found in the Elkhart River near Diamond Lake Road bridge in Noble County, Indiana.


Later that year, Lehman allegedly confessed to Ranae Sexton, then 16, that he and Bandy killed Laurel. Lehman and Sexton were dating at the time.

Also later that year, Bandy allegedly told Bill McDonald, then 16, that he and Lehman killed Laurel at the Mallard Roost Wetland Conservation Area, a 760-acre parcel along the south branch of the Elkhart River. The latter was a sophomore at West Noble High School in Ligonier, Perry Township, Noble County at the time.

On June 7, 2013, Sexton told Noble County Sheriff’s Department detective Shawn Dunafin the details of Lehman’s confession in 1975. On July 3, 2014, McDonald gave the details of Bandy’s confession in 1975 to Indiana State Police captain Kevin Smith.

On February 6, 2023, Lehman and Bandy were arrested. Both suspects are being held without bond at the Noble County Jail in Albion, Noble County.

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