In an odd exchange between two law enforcement bodies, Oak Park police made clear Monday that Indiana authorities are welcome to reexamine an Oak Park apartment which was once home to serial killer David Maust. Indiana prosecutors and Hammond police meanwhile said they'd only come to Oak Park if they were invited by police.
So far, all the exchanges and parrying between the police departments have taken place in newspapers and not directly. That is an issue which frustrates and annoys Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley. "I find it very disheartening that I have to find out about this in the newspapers," said Tanksley, who first heard about the case on TV Monday morning.
At issue is whether Maust, who is to be sentenced Dec. 16 for the murder of three teenage boys in Indiana, may have buried bodies under the floor of his garden apartment on Kenilworth Avenue in Oak Park during the two years he lived in the village.
Oak Park police say its detectives carried out an hours-long search of the apartment in December 2003 and promptly forwarded the results of the search to the Hammond police department which was investigating Maust at that time. Deputy Police Chief Robert Scianna said his department heard nothing from Indiana officials raising questions about the investigation or asking for further information.
But in a front page article Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that prosecutors and police in Indiana have questioned whether the Oak Park search was thorough enough. The paper reported that two neighbors of Maust in the apartment building at 425 S. Kenilworth Ave. made reports to Oak Park police after he had moved from the building raising questions about whether concrete work had been done to the floor of the basement apartment and reporting blood trails leading to the apartment.
Angie DiMaso, the owner of the Kenilworth 10-flat, was adamant Monday that there are no bodies buried in her building's basement. She said that several years ago while Maust was a tenant, she commissioned remodeling work on three garden apartments in the building which involved building partitions and retiling the concrete floor. Maust, she said, did not do the work, and that it did not involve any digging into the concrete floor.
The building, she said, was constructed with "radiant heat" which involves hot water coils embedded in the concrete. That makes it impossible, she suggested, for Maust to have dug up the floor and then to have replaced it.
Tanksley and Scianna both said they are both annoyed and puzzled by comments by Lake County prosecutor Bernard Carter and Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller.
"We're standing by what we did two years ago," said Tanksley. Scianna said that he was "personally standing out there" during the early morning search of the apartment two years ago. He defended his detective's procedures, and called into the question the motives of those who are now raising questions. Indiana law enforcement officials, they added, are welcome to search it themselves anytime they wish.
Carter was out of his office until this Friday and unavailable for comment, according to spokesperson Sylvia Gibbs. Miller did not return phone messages before press time Tuesday.
"Why does it take two-and-one-half-years before they feel they have any questions," said Scianna. "We didn't we receive one phone call, one letter, no e-mail, no correspondence whatsoever asking us to do anything to assist him in his job."
Scianna also said he was annoyed and troubled that fellow law enforcement officials had deemed it appropriate to address any concerns in the media.
"Why would he go to the press and not come to us directly," Scianna asked.
Annoyed but polite with a reporter Monday, Scianna cut off questioning after several minutes and said, "I am not going to stand here and defend our investigation point by point in the press." His department's investigation, he said, was "correct, appropriate and thorough."
Scianna said, "It's an insult to the victims of this guy that we would be discussing this in the newspaper. We don't communicate with other law enforcement agencies in the newspapers."
DiMaso also supported Scianna's willingness to have Indiana authorities come to Oak Park and investigate the scene for themselves.
"We were there for hours," she said. "They're welcome to visit the apartment anytime they want."
But not welcome to do anything they want to the floor.
"It's radiant heat. Anybody puts a nail in the floor, there's a leak," said DiMaso. She said that she's spoken with Carter "five or six times," and that while he's welcome to come see for himself, "he's not bringing any jackhammers."