Porter County Sheriff's Department


What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department

 

Dentist Take a "Bite" Out of Crime

Sheriff deputizes three men who specialize in forensic dentistry.

Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, left, signs the deputy badges of three area dentists, from left, James Cahillane, Dennis Block, and Stephen Lucas Friday following a press conference at the Sheriff's office. (Ed Collier / The Times)

 

VALPARAISO -- Before Melissa Draus was stabbed to death in Portage eight years ago, she bit one of her attackers. Last year, Lorraine Kirkley did the same thing when David Malinski sexually assaulted and killed her. As those women fought for their lives, the marks they left behind -- positively identified by forensic dentists -- played a role in the conviction of their killers. Friday, Sheriff David Reynolds swore in three area dentists -- two of whom worked on those high-profile murder cases -- to create an investigative team for his department and the Porter County Coroner's Office. They are Dr. James W. Cahillane, who has an office at 407 N. Wisconsin St., Hobart, Dr. Stephen l. Lucas who has a practice at 423 Sand Creek Drive, Chesterton, and Dr. Dennis A. Block, an oral surgeon who has a practice at 911 Wall St. in Valparaiso and at 61 W. 86th Ave., Merrillville. As part of this team, these special deputies will help identify bite marks -- something Lucas said is as positive as a fingerprint, identify remains through dental records and help identify the method of attack if a person's face is injured. The men are specially trained for the role. "As far as the sheriff's department is concerned, I think we are very fortunate to have the services of these dedicated professionals who are willing to assist our investigators in difficult and often high-profile cases," Reynolds said. "The expertise they will provide is invaluable," he said, adding that the move is long overdue. Porter County Coroner John Evans, who could not attend Friday's press conference, said in a press release that the men provide "immeasurable" public service. "They have always been willing to assist in the past and are very meticulous and thorough in their work," Evans said. Lucas called Reynolds' decision to form the team progressive. "It's a very big, important part, I think, in law enforcement," he said. He said what they do, particularly in missing person cases, is to help families. "That's probably more what a forensic dentist does is, in a lot of cases, is closure," Lucas said.

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