The estranged wife of the Knox man accused of stealing three vehicles and leading police on a high-speed chase through four counties Friday afternoon was murdered. Kimberly Chavez, 50, of Portage, was found dead Friday evening at the home of her estranged husband, Gary. A forensic autopsy conducted Monday afternoon in Fort Wayne indicates she died from multiple blunt force trauma injuries, according to Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells. Her death has officially been ruled a homicide. Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff was waiting on the initial autopsy findings before filing charges against Chavez. He’s still in critical condition at Christ Advocate Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. Information released so far by police indicates Chavez drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center and carjacked a man Friday at 3:41 p.m. Investigators say he abandoned that car and his passenger in English Lake a short time later and took a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That vehicle broke down on State Road 8 in Hebron. When two men in a 1988 GMC Sierra stopped to offer him help, police say Chavez helped himself to their truck and continued to flee. Police finally used stop sticks to flatten the truck’s tires on Interstate 65 in Crown Point. Chavez turned his gun on himself as officers approached. He was initially taken to a hospital in Crown Point before being airlifted to Oak Lawn later that evening. A felony carjacking charge has already been filed against Chavez in Porter County, and additional charges may be added.
Written by Mary Perren
WKVI News Director Mary Perren is glad to be back home in northern Indiana and on the radio. She’s a North Judson native with more than 20 years of news experience. She’s worked in print and radio news in Indianapolis, Hopkinsville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn. and most recently in Winamac before taking over as news director for Kankakee Valley Broadcasting in February of 2013. Her work has been honored by the Associated Press, StateNets News Association, Curb Foundation, Hoosier State Press Association and IBA. When she’s not sitting in the anchor chair or chasing down news, Mary enjoys shopping for antiques, attending concerts and taking long walks and rides in her vintage Saab convertible, weather permitting. She’s also a hopelessly devoted Chicago Cubs fanatic who still cringes at the mention of Steve Garvey and Josh Beckett and maintains it wasn’t Steve Bartman’s fault.