VINTON, Iowa -- A Vinton man is charged with murder today in a 1998 homicide of a 19-year-old West Terre Haute, Ind., woman.
Clinton Mackey, 33, made his initial court appearance this morning after confessing to authorities Tuesday that he killed Erika Case of Terre Haute, on Sept. 6, 1998, according to probable cause affidavit filed in Vigo County Superior Court in West Terre Haute, Ind.
Mackey waived his extradition Thursday in Benton County District Court and being held at the Vigo County Jail in West Terre Haute. No bond was set.
According to the affidavit, Case was stabbed 33 times on her face, neck, chest, arms, scalp and back. She died from the stab wounds to her neck. Her left and right carotid arteries were severed and the injuries on her arms appeared to be consistent with defensive type wounds.
Her sister, Mary Case, arrived at the house the morning of Sept. 6, 1998 to check on her sister, who she found lying on the floor with a blanket covering her body, according to the affidavit. Mary Case said her sister had massive wounds to her face and there was no sign of life.
Mackey, who was 18, at the time, told Benton County Sheriff's Det. Jerry Michaels on Tuesday that he wanted to confess to Case's death, indicating that he "needed to get it off his chest," according to the affidavit. Mackey said he was partying that night with a friend, Isaiah Dooley, at a home where Case and her sister had been house sitting.
Mackey, who's married and has three children in Vinton, said he, Dooley and Case were drinking and doing LSD that night, according to the affidavit. Later, Case got sick and passed out. Mackey then took Dooley home and he said while he was driving he knew he was going to return to Case's but didn't tell Dooley.
Dooley during an interview with authorities, said Mackey had told him he tried to have sex with Case that night but she rejected him, according to the affidavit. Dooley said Mackey was acting strange that night and made him feel "weird."
When Mackey arrived back at Case's, she was lying on her back and he went into the kitchen and got a knife, the knife they had used earlier to cut a pizza, Mackey told the detective. Mackey then said when he stabbed Case she "struggled a little bit, but soon became incoherent." He said he knew he stabbed her 33 times because of the news reports.
Mackey said he took the knife when he left and went to his grandparent's home, according to the affidavit. He took off his clothing and cleaned his boots and them, along with the knife, in a bag. Later, he drove to the Wabash River and threw the bag into the water. He then went back to his grandparents and went to sleep.
Michaels said Mackey told him that he confessed the crime to his wife earlier on Tuesday and to a friend from church, according to the affidavit. The friend, who wasn't named in the affidavit, went with Mackey to the Benton County Sheriff's Office Tuesday.
Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing and other law enforcement during a press conference Friday morning explained how the cold case "heated up" over the last six months when the case was reopened.
Ewing said so many have been involved in this 15 year process, but they began making head way when they received investigative assistance from a retired detective and crime scene investigator who are on the TNT drama, "Cold Justice." The television series, which goes back and re-investigates actual cold cases, had decided to feature the Case homicide.
The Cold Justice team, along with the Vigo County authorities, went back through the entire case and re-interviewed about 30 witnesses and "turned up the heat," on Mackey, Ewing said. The investigation has taken them from Indiana to Texas - where Mackey lived at some point, and Florida and Iowa to find witnesses.
"The Sheriff gave us the resources and freedom on this investigation," Vigo County Sheriff's Capt. John Moats said.
Moats said they had the help of former detectives who were building on the case over the last 15 years and they gathered more information with each new interview of the witnesses. They re-examined all the evidence and new advancements in technology concerning DNA helped them.
Moats said Mackey knew everything they were doing and "he knew things were getting quite warm." Moats and the other detectives said the witnesses were telling Mackey about their interviews.
Ewing said witnesses would call Mackey and ask him about his involvement after talking with authorities.
"His friends were calling him and.....on Facebook...asking him questions," Ewing said.
Ewing pointed out that his department usually only has the Indiana State Police to rely on for their resources but having Cold Justice on the team allowed them to have more resources and investigative tools. The Cold Justice team could send evidence to different places for testing.
Ewing and the others said there is nobody else involved in this crime besides Mackey but they will continue to investigate and question witnesses because they all want to have a solid case to move forward to trial.
Ewing said the most important thing to remember is Case and her family – what happened to her and what her family has gone through. He hopes they will have peace some day.
Mackey's pre-trial conference is set Feb. 7, and his trial is set July 14. The episode focusing on this homicide will be on Cold Justice Feb. 14.