2 men charged in 1998 killings of Hammond woman, 2 teens

Two men have been charged in the killings of a woman and two teenage boys found bludgeoned to death in 1998 in a house in northwest Indiana.

Hammond police announced Wednesday that an analysis of DNA evidence helped authorities secure murder charges against James H. Higgason III, 51, and David L. Copley Jr., 46, in the January 1998 killings.

They are accused in the bludgeoning deaths of Elva Tamez, 36; Jerod Hodge, 18; and Timothy Ross, 16. The victims’ bodies were found in Tamez’s Hammond home.

Police say the motive was robbery.

Hammond police Lt. Steve Kellogg said Higgason was arrested in Hammond and Copley was arrested in the central Indiana city of Franklin with the cooperation of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Police said in a news release that charges had been presented against Higgason and Copley following the slayings, but they were not charged due to limited evidence.

Both men were charged Monday in the killings after the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed all the evidence in the case, including DNA evidence recently uncovered thanks to modern technology, police said.

"It feels really good for the police department to be able to say we did it. It was there, and now we're finally able to put it together," Lt. Kellogg said.


Linda Hodge says even though it has been 23 years, her son Jerod has never been far from mind.

"I go to the cemetery every week. I go to the cemetery. Last time I was there I told him we hadn’t heard nothing yet," Linda said.

"I immediately felt shocked and overwhelmed. I always thought this day would come, but I never actually expected that to happen," said Angelina Homans, the daughter of victim Elva Tamez.

"I was very ecstatic. I'm glad I'm going to finally get some kind of peace of mind," Linda said.

Court records show a magistrate entered not guilty pleas on behalf of both men during initial hearings Wednesday, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. A public defender was appointed for Copley, but Higgason told the magistrate he intended to hire a private attorney.

Associated Press contributed to this report.