The facts don't seem to be lining-up in a minor accident that led to the discovery of a dead body.
Just after 7:00 a.m. Saturday, South Bend Police found a GMC Yukon in the front yard of a vacant home in the 5200-block of South Miami Street on the city’s southeast side.
The vehicle’s driver, Armando Johnson, 31, told officers he swerved and crashed his car in effort to avoid hitting an aggressive automobile.
While surveying Johnson’s SUV for damage, police found Maximino Colon Jr., 37, of Elkhart, dead in the vehicle’s cargo hold.
On Monday, the St. Joseph County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy on Colon’s body. According to Deputy Coroner Mike McGann, the autopsy’s findings were inconclusive, but did suggest Colon was dead prior to the crash.
The St. Joseph County Fatal Accident Crash Team, which was brought in to investigate, is calling the man's death "suspicious."
“While we do not believe foul play was involved, certain aspects of Johnson's" story are just not lining-up,” Captain Tim Spencer said.
For example, Johnson told detectives he was driving to his home along the 800-block of Lancaster Drive in South Bend before getting in the accident. The only problem, police say his Yukon was traveling southbound along Miami Street, in the exact opposite direction of his Lancaster address.
"Regardless of the facts, I cannot believe he had anything to do with it. I just know Armando would never do something like that,” Johnson’s longtime former neighbor Beverly Bowers said.
For 12 years Johnson, his wife and two young girls lived across the street from Bowers in the 500-block of South 23rd St., in South Bend’s River Park Neighborhood.
"He was a pretty good neighbor; he took care of his kids and if you needed anything, needed anything at all, he was right there to help,” Bowers added.
But Bowers says the mood changed last year when Johnson and his wife separated. While his family remained on 23rd Street, Johnson moved across town to his current address on Lancaster Drive.
Per Indiana state law, investigators performed an alcohol and drug test on Johnson. Those results, in addition to Colon's toxicology findings should be complete by this Friday.
Until then, police say this case will remain at a standstill because of a lack of solid evidence.
"Well I certainly hope they can get to the bottom of it and find out really what happened because Armando and Max were good friends. My husband knew them a little bit, we just hope they can figure it all out,” Bowers concluded.
According to St. Joseph County Jail records, Johnson has a history of arrests dating back nearly ten years. While it by no means indicates guilt, it is a track record detectives will likely take into consideration during their current investigation.
7/21/2002 – DUI – Class D Felony
7/26/2009 – Resisting Law Enforcement
3/3/2010 – Resisting Law Enforcement
11/12/2010 – Resisting Law Enforcement
4/18/2011 – Resisting Law Enforcement