A man is behind bars, accused of brutally murdering a 44-year-old tattoo artist whose body was found inside a barrel in September.
Elkhart County Police arrested 35-year-old Todd Stewart Wednesday afternoon for the murder of Mark Miller. They say the two were business partners.
Mark disappeared nearly eight months ago, on Sept. 7.
His sister, Dawn, reported him missing to police on Sept. 10.
"It just didn't feel right," she said. "I knew from the beginning something was wrong."
Mark's family spent several days searching areas near his tattoo shop in Dunlap for any clues about his whereabouts.
But, their fears were confirmed on Sept. 20, when police found Mark's body inside a barrel. It was dumped in the St. Joseph River near the Six-Span Bridge in Elkhart County.
According to the Elkhart County Prosecutor, Stewart told them he was working with Miller the night he disappeared.
Using cellphone records and surveillance video, investigators found that Stewart's activities didn't match up with what he originally told police.
A business associate of Stewart and Miller told police he saw Stewart shoot Mark with a handgun.
He also admitted to helping Stewart load a barrel containing Mark's body into the back of Stewart's truck.
Mark's family is trying to process the news they've been waiting to hear for months. Many say they suspected Stewart from the beginning.
"I faced him right to his face and asked him ,'Did you kill my son? Is my son dead?'" Mark's Mother, Sheila, says. "'No, no. I'd never do anything like that. I love your son, he's my best friend.' And, he sat right there and lied to me. I knew right there my son was dead and [Stewart] did it."
Sheila says she doesn't think Stewart acted alone. She'd like to see those who helped brought to justice.
And, so would the rest of Mark's family, who've been struggling to cope with their devastating loss over the past eight months. They say seeing those responsible punished for the horrific crime will bring them some closure.
They'd like to see Stewart go to prison for the rest of his life.
"I hope he wakes up everyday in his jail and thinks, 'If I wouldn't have done that, I wouldn't be here,'" said Mark's niece, Amanda Vandipenbos. "I hope he rots in jail."
Stewart will make his first court appearance Thursday morning.