Break in 2 Year Cold Case in Noble County


Published 03/27 2014 02:24PM

Updated 03/27 2014 02:52PM

A break in a 2 year old cold case where the Noble County Prosecutor's Office says a tip is what led to the arrest of 2 brothers in the murder of a Fort Wayne exotic dancer.

Formal charges have now been filed in the murder of 36 year old Erin Justin.

You may remember this story as Justin's body was found in Bartley Lake in Noble County in July 2011.

WFFT's Brooke Welch spoke with Justin's former boss and residents on Bartley Lake.

It's a case that's over 2 1/2 years old, but investigators continued to pursue all leads in the death of Erin Justin and a tip that came in on March 12th, led to the arrest of 2 men on March 20th with formal charges being filed. 

"We are excited for the Erin Justin family.  That we can bring the case of their daughter and mother's disappearance and death, one step closer to closure."

35 year old Andres Gonzalez Jr. of Fort Wayne is charged with murder and removal of the body from the scene.  His 32 year old brother Victor Manuel Gonzales also of Fort Wayne is charged with assisting a criminal and removal of body from the scene.

Police say they received a tip from Victor's wife Colleen Gonzales.  Officers interviewed Victor on March 20th.

Police say Victor told them that his brother said he attacked and choked Justin.  Court paperwork says Victor and Andres allegedly transported her body to Port Mitchell Lake, rented a boat, and dumped the body into Bartley Lake.

Police say Andres admitted physically attacking Justin and identified pictures of her.

Mike Rehling lives about a mile from where they found the body.

"I was really surprised, because I've lived here all my life in the county, and I've never remembered any body being stashed in this area."

Mike explains how remote Bartley Lake is.

"Oh, there's about 4 houses that I know of on the whole lake and they must be at least a half to 3 quarter mile drives back to each one of them and one is just a summer place, so it's a quiet remote lake."

With only 4 homes on Bartley Lake, resident Don Chenoweth says it was shocking a body was discovered there.

"We seen the lights, we went out on the deck and see the big fire truck out there with the lights shining, and wondered what the heck was going on."

Don a retired police officer, is glad to see charges have been filed.

"It's about time, but ya know with what they had to work with it's understandable."

At the time of her murder, Justin had worked at Gentleman's Club Bleu Diamond for 4 years.  Owner Tony Raffied says she was a great employee.

"She was a great person and she was special."

Raffied received a lot of messages from employees sharing the good news, that charges had been made in Justin's murder.

"They all were so happy that finally this case came to the end and that they brought the guilty one to justice.  It gives all of us a good closure that we all needed for all this time."

WFFT will keep you updated as this case goes to trial.

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