Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff has filed three felony charges against the Knox man accused of stealing two cars in Starke County and a third in Hebron before shooting himself when police in Lake County used stop sticks to end a high-speed chase Friday afternoon.
Gary Chavez, 57, is charged with murder, kidnapping and carjacking and faces between 71 and 135 years in prison if convicted of all three offenses.
He is accused of beating his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, 50, of Portage, to death at their rural Knox home Friday afternoon. Findings from a Monday forensic autopsy indicate she died of blunt force trauma which resulted in a skull fracture and a cut to her carotid artery. Deputies from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department found her under a tarp at the home Friday night after Chavez was apprehended in Lake County.
After allegedly killing his wife, investigators say Chavez drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, where he’s accused of commandeering a truck from Bryant Wagner at gunpoint in the parking lot just before 4 p.m. Wagner told investigators he was sitting in his vehicle with the door open when a “skinny white man with long brown hair, a scruffy face and mustache” with “red paint or blood on his jeans” pointed a large, silver revolver at him and told him to move over and not raise his hands. According to the probable cause affidavit filed in Starke Circuit Court, Chavez drove from the store and told Wagner “I killed my wife and I’m on the run.”
The affidavit further indicates Chavez drove to English Lake, pulled into a driveway on County Road 650 West and confronted a couple who had just pulled into the driveway separately. Police say he pulled a gun on Rick Boisvert, demanded the keys to his Jeep Cherokee and drove away in the SUV. Detective Rob Olejniczak from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department says Boisvert, Wagner and the other witness all recognized Chavez from a photo he showed them.
Chavez is still in critical condition at a Chicagoland area hospital. He was flown there from a facility in Crown Point Friday night.
Bourff says a no bond warrant has been issued for Chavez but has not been served due to his medical condition. No time frame has been set for service of the warrant.
The Porter County Prosecuting Attorney has also filed a carjacking charge against Chavez. He’s accused of stealing a pickup truck at gunpoint in Hebron when the Jeep broke down. That’s what he was driving when the pursuit ended on Interstate 65.