Two killed in head-on crash on I-94, victim's family found murdered

By: Newscenter16 Staff Email
By: Newscenter16 Staff Email

A fiery crash leaves two dead and police later discover the family of one of the victims dead in their home about two hundred miles away.

The crash happened on I-94 near mile marker 43, just three miles east of the Michigan City exit at about 1:35 a.m. Police said 39-year-old Michael Vanderlinden was driving the wrong way down the westbound lane when he collided with 45-year-old Juan Nelson’s car. The crash ignited a fire.

“We had trouble identifying even the kind of cars they were in simply because of the damage,” Sullivan said.

After firefighters from the LaPorte Fire Department extinguished the flames, both drivers had to be extricated from their vehicles. The LaPorte County Coroner pronounced both drivers dead on the scene.

Van Buren Township Police arrived at Vanderlinden’s home to notify his family of the news but found three family members dead inside.

Vanderlinden’s wife and two children, ages four and seven, were stabbed in their bedrooms. The front door of the home of Anna Street had been left ajar, according to Captain Greg Laurain from the Van Buren Township Police Department.

Vanderlinden is now the only person of interest in the homicide investigation, Laurain said.

Police say Van Der Linden is the only one considered a person of interest at this time.

“I would like to say I have seen everything in the coroner’s office over the years, but just when you think you have, something like this pops up,” Sullivan said. “Just goes to show you things are not always what they look, not always as they appear.”

Police removed computers and answering machines from the home to look for potential notes or explanations from Vanderlinden as to what occurred.

Sullivan performed toxicology exams on both Vanderlinden and Nelson. Results are expected in two to three days.


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