St. Joseph County prosecutors now say a dead Mishawaka woman’s boyfriend is a person of interest in the case. Mishawaka police confirm the man was taken into custody shortly after Kim White-Stout’s body was found Monday in a Cass County field.
Cass County Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Knox ruled that White-Stout, 38, died of asphyxia ligature strangulation to the neck area.
Mike Samp, the Mishawaka assistant police chief, confirms her boyfriend was handcuffed and led away after she was found. Police confirm he is being questioned, is still being held, and is now being called a person of interest.
White-Stout, of the 200 block of Ardennes Avenue, was reported missing by her family last week. She reportedly disappeared early in the morning on March 22 after spending the evening with friends at Bleachers Pub on Grape Road in Mishawaka, said her niece, Summer White, who filed a missing person's report with the Mishawaka Police Department.
Her body was discovered by an employee from the Cass County Road Commission about 1:30 p.m. Monday in a field on Lane Road south of Davis Lake Street in Jefferson Township, northeast of Edwardsburg near Eagle Lake.
According to the forensic pathologist's report out of Grand Rapids, White-Stout likely had been dead since March 23 or 24, Knox said.
Knox said he is still waiting for microscopic and toxicology reports to return, which could take several weeks. Those tests could reveal whether any sexual assault took place.
Knox added that he did not witness any "lethal injuries" or bleeding or anything of that nature on the body.
Cass County Sheriff Joseph Underwood said Tuesday that it's hard to say whether the body was dumped at the location, but added: "We don't believe it took place at that particular spot. But, obviously, it is suspicious. We're just trying to retrace steps and get background information."
Mishawaka police are involved in the investigation to the extent that they are helping Cass County authorities locate people of interest, Assistant Chief Mike Samp said Tuesday.
Samp said the friend who gave White-Stout a ride home is the last person known to have seen her. The friend reportedly took White-Stout home from the bar about 3 a.m. March 22, but was unable to get into her house because she had forgotten a key.
Samp said White-Stout's friend told police that she and the victim then were walking north on Main toward Traverse Circle when White-Stout simply disappeared.
"She said she turned around and she was gone," he said of the woman's statement to police.
Asked about efforts to locate White-Stout, he said police posted an internal bulletin and also notified outside agencies via CrimEnet, an information sharing service for local police.
The St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office announced it will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the case.
Tribune reporters contributed to this report