WARSAW — The suspect in a 2017 killing near Warsaw has entered a guilty plea.
Derrick Lavelle Wandrick, 26, 167 E. 15th St., Harvey, Ill., was charged with felony murder. According to Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-1, Wandrick could face between 45 and 65 years in prison.
Wandrick had been facing a four-day jury trial in January 2020, but that has been canceled after a guilty plea was entered.
On Oct. 23, 2017, officers with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office found David L. Strowder Jr., 21, Elkhart, lying facedown near CR 300N. Strowder was bleeding from multiple stab wounds and unconscious.
Strowder was taken to Kosciusko Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Autopsy results showed Strowder had 63 stab wounds, and the death was ruled a homicide.
While investigating the crime scene, officers found a shoe print that did not match Strowder’s. With the assistance of Elkhart City detectives, officers received tips regarding Wandrick.
During an interview, Wandrick said he was in Warsaw on Oct. 23 in Strowder’s vehicle. Wandrick told officers he had driven Strowder’s vehicle back to Elkhart. While interviewing Wandrick, officers compared his shoes to the shoe print found at the scene of the crime. Wandrick’s shoes and the shoe print were of similar design. Officers also discovered Wandrick was in possession of Strowder’s cellphone.
After Strowder’s vehicle was found in Elkhart, officers noticed a cut on the passenger side seat, as well as blood on the center console.
It was later discovered that Wandrick was at a Warsaw residence between 7:45 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2017, driving Strowder’s vehicle. Witnesses saw Wandrick attempting to clean blood from inside the vehicle with bleach water. Officers also discovered a location where soil had been disturbed with a shoe print. Under the shoe print, officers found a knife believed to be the murder weapon.
During a 2017 press conference about the homicide, the fact that Strowder was stabbed 63 times was discussed multiple times. “In my twenty-plus years in law enforcement, that’s probably the most I’ve ever seen,” said Detective Todd Sautter.
“It is pretty violent,” said Coroner Tony Ciriello. “This was the most violent in injuries of any of those homicides I’ve been involved with.”
Wandrick’s sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 23.