TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – It all started the night of September 5.
Erika Case and her sister were house sitting on Sunflower Place in Vigo County. Erika was found dead the next morning, murdered by a stab wound to the neck.
“We had a young lady that was senselessly and brutally murdered in a safe community. It was disturbing,” said former Vigo County Sheriff, Bill Harris.
September 5, 1998
Clint Mackey and a friend picked up Erika Case and took her to a Vigo County home where she was house sitting.
The friend said Mackey attempted to have sex with Erika and she continued to turn him down. The two of them then left the house. Both told police later, when they left Erika Case, she was just fine.
“He didn’t know anything about the case. It was 50/50 on that as investigators. Is he telling us the truth, is he not telling us the truth?” said Harris.
Erika’s sister found her dead in the home the next morning.
“Found her sister. Dead on the living room floor,” said Harris.
Erika had 33 stab wounds and was killed from stab wounds to the neck.
“Finger prints. Blood splatters. We knew specifically the murder weapon, a kitchen knife in a standard butcher block holder, was missing,” said Harris.
Then, the case went cold, for 15 years.
“Lack of information, lack of evidence tying him into it,” said Harris. “His ability to not confide in anyone is unusual…and with him not confiding in anyone, there was no one in the community that was repeating this thing.”
Investigators re-opened the case six months ago. Mackey has been a person of interest from the beginning.
“People would call and say, Clint Mackey did it and hang up. That’s just not, that doesn’t do us any good,” said Harris. “Everybody wanted to suspect Clint Mackey. But the leads kind of dried up.”
The Vigo County Sheriff’s Department was able to move forward with the case with help from the television show ‘Cold Justice’ and TNT. On January 21, Mackey went to the Benton County, Iowa sheriff’s office and confessed.
Several interviews in 2013 had Mackey’s acquaintances saying he never liked to be told “no”. Other friends and family also said Mackey would threaten them with bodily harm when he was rejected.
Another acquaintance of Mackey’s claimed he confessed to her, saying he woke up the morning after the murder, taking hard drugs the previous night, he found blood on his hands and bloody clothes in his closet.
Mackey said he threw them and the missing murder weapon into the Wabash River.
A cold case can be frustrating for investigating officers as former sheriff Bill Harris well remembers.
“Nobody knew anything about this. No one in the community knew anything about this,” said Harris.
But closure is near, with a suspect in jail, shining light on a cold case murder.
“This one. Just a lot of pleasure seeing a warrant being served on this one, justice served. For the family and for our department,” said Harris.
Formal charges have been filed and a trial date is set for July 14. He remains in the Vigo County jail with no bond.
Vigo County sheriff officials have no reason to believe that any other person was involved in the Erika’s murder.