Starke County murder suspect identified

STARKE Co. — Gary W. Chavez, 57, of Knox, has been identified as the man who allegedly murdered a woman in his Knox home, carjacked three vehicles, threatening the drivers at gunpoint, and allegedly took one of the vehicle owners hostage for a brief time, while leading multiple police agencies on a high speed chase across four counties.
Chavez allegedly carjacked his first car at Bailey's Discount Center in North Judson late Friday afternoon, June 6. He is reported to have arrived at Bailey's Discount Center in his personal vehicle, which he left behind before driving the car, along with his alleged hostage, to English Lake, where he left the hostage and allegedly forced the owner of an English Lake residence to surrender his vehicle.
From English Lake, Chavez crossed into La Porte, Porter, and Lake counties, traveling at a high rate of speed to elude capture by the authorities.
Crown Point Police deployed stop sticks in Lake County and Chavez lost control of the 1988 GMC Sierra pickup that he had carjacked in Portage.
As officers approached the vehicle, Chavez discharged a single shot from his weapon into his face.
Chavez was transported to Saint Anthony's Hospital in Crown Point and later airlifted to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., where he is listed in critical condition.
The name of the victim, who according to Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells was in her late 40s, early 50s, is being withheld pending notification of kin.
Cause of death will be released when a forensic autopsy has been concluded.
Rannells will try to schedule an autopsy in Fort Wayne later next week.
Police assisting in this incident were: The North Judson Police Department, Starke County Sheriff's Department, Knox City Police, La Porte County Police, Hebron Police, Porter County Sheriff's Department, Crown Point Police, the Lake County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police, Lowell District.
Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff said the suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.