Big Daddy’s Sports Bar is now just weeds, dirt and remnants of a parking lot sandwiched between U.S. 30 and Anchorage Road in Warsaw. If the soils there could speak, they could help solve a mystery that has perplexed the community for just over a decade.
Dec. 4, 2001, was a mild winter night in Warsaw. It was also, by all accounts, a fairly typical Tuesday night at Big Daddy’s Sports Bar where Heather Endicott, 24, was a frequent customer.
At the bar, Endicott was known to socialize. According to family and friends who were interviewed by detectives, she was not much of a drinker, but there was speculation she may have dabbled in drugs.
Her only criminal history included two arrests – one in May 2001 and the second in August 2001 – for failing to appear in court for traffic infractions.
Endicott had no enemies that police could ever find.
By all accounts, the young woman frequented Big Daddy’s more for the scene and to meet up with friends.
By Dec. 4, 2001, Endicott had been separated from her husband, Phillip Endicott, for about a year. She and her two small children were living with her mother, Tammy Swick, on CR 100 North in Warsaw.
Police reports and detectives notes reveal it was not unusual for Endicott to leave the children with her mother. When she did not come home from the sports bar the next day, two days or even three days later, police say her pattern was reason enough to not raise a lot of suspicions.
By Dec. 10, 2001, though – six days after she was last seen – Billy Stambaugh had waited long enough. Stambaugh called the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department and reported his 24-year-old daughter missing.
Detectives began their investigation at Big Daddy’s, the last place where Endicott was known to be. There, in the parking lot of the bar, they found her pickup truck parked and undisturbed. “It was processed but nothing was found,” said KCSD Detective Sgt. J.D. Ayres. There was no blood, no signs of a struggle. There was nothing.
A description of the young woman was put out to the public in hopes someone would know her whereabouts. Endicott was 5’0” 150 pounds with blonde/strawberry blonde hair, hazel eyes and had multiple tattoos.
Police also began interviewing patrons and the owner and staff of Big Daddy’s. Ayres said bar personnel were never very cooperative with police and patrons gave such varying versions of what they saw that night that authorities were not able to get a good account of what may happened.
“We got mixed stories,” said Ayres. “She was seen in the parking lot. She was seen talking to someone … it didn’t appear they were arguing but the descriptions were totally different.”
Even the time frame of when Endicott was last seen remains unclear. The only thing police know today is that the woman went to the bar on the night of Dec. 4, 2001, and that she was never seen alive again.
More than three months had passed without any news or sightings of Heather Endicott. Police followed up on hundreds of tips and had interviewed about a dozen potential suspects, but they were no closer to finding her.
It was around dusk on the evening of March 14, 2002. Warsaw Police were called to Bob Evan’s near Center Center in Warsaw where a bomb threat had been received. Police responded as the restaurant was evacuated.
“I remember that night well,” said Ayres, recalling how he was headed to watch a football game when he got the call. “While (police) were at Bob Evan’s for the bomb threat a couple fishermen approached and said they found what looked like a hand or foot in a roll of carpet in the pond.”
Officers followed the fishermen down to the banks of the small pond. There, about two feet from the shore, was a piece of rolled up light blue carpeting. The officers peered inside and, to their horror, confirmed the fishermen’s fears.
Detectives from both Warsaw and Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department were called to the scene at 6:49 p.m.
On the last night Endicott was seen, the temperature outside was a mild 41 degrees. But as a typical Indiana weather would prove, single digit and steady below freezing temperatures prevailed for much of the rest of the winter.
It was more than three months after she had been reported missing, but Ayres said the water temperature from December through March and the fact the body was wrapped in the carpet preserved it very well. Identifying Endicott and her cause of death came quickly.
“The medical examiner ruled the death homicide due to drowning because water was found in her lungs,” said Ayres. “The body was likely there the entire time but the forensic pathologist never could determine how long.”
Interviews with the fishermen determined that the piece of carpeting had become somewhat of a staple at the pond. “They used it to sit on while they fished,” Ayres said. “It had been there for a while.”
The pond is accessible by vehicle only via a path along the northeast side of the Center Center. And although Endicott may have been driven back there by her killer, no surveillance video was ever located.
Since Endicott was reported missing, Warsaw and KCSD detectives followed literally hundreds of leads and interviewed approximately 10 potential suspects. Ayres noted, “We’ve even gone to prisons following tips, but so far nothing has panned out. We are still lining up interviews to this day.”
Because Endicott was reported missing from her home in the county, KCSD detectives led the initial investigation. When her body was found in the city limits, Warsaw Police Department detectives worked jointly with county officers trying to solve the murder. Today, KCSD has taken over the case and continues to follow any and all leads.
Anyone who may have information is encouraged to call in their tips. Those who do not want their name revealed can call a recorded machine that does not have caller ID at 574-265-2211. Also, informants can call Crime Stoppers and receive a reward up to $1,000 upon the arrest and conviction of a suspect.