Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff hopes to file formal charges today against the Knox man accused of stealing two cars and leading police on a high speed chase Friday afternoon. Police say Gary Chavez, 57, of Knox, commandeered the first car in the Mark Bailey’s Discount Center parking lot at 3:41 p.m. He switched vehicles in English Lake, according to authorities, and left the owner of the first stolen car behind when he took a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
It broke down near Hebron. Indiana State Police officials say two men stopped to see if he needed help, and Chavez brandished a gun and stole their 1988 GMC Sierra pickup truck. That’s what he was driving when police used stop sticks to flatten his tires on Interstate 65 in Crown Point. Chavez shot himself as police were approaching the truck. He’s still in critical condition at a Chicagoland area hospital. A carjacking charge has been filed against him in Porter County.
After the chase ended, deputies with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department found his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, 50, of Portage dead at his home in California Township. Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells says preliminary autopsy results indicate her death was a homicide as a result of blunt force trauma.