The small lake community of North Webster had never before – and has not since – seen a crime like the 1975 murder of a local teenager. Even today, with the case still unsolved, the community remembers the case of Laurel Jean Mitchell.
Laurel’s father was Richard D. “Dick” Mitchell, a well known public figure in North Webster. He passed away on Jan. 16, 2012. Wilma Mitchell, her mother, operated the North Webster Food Pantry for several years and also passed away last year. They died never knowing what exactly happened to their 17-year-old daughter or why she was sexually assaulted, killed, and her body thrown into the Elkhart River less than 20 miles from their home.
Police records from a series of interviews show it was 10 p.m. on Aug. 6, 1975, when Laurel left her job at a restaurant in Epworth Forest and began the walk up Epworth Forest Drive to Adventureland, a one time thriving amusement park.
Hours after Laurel’s disappearance, as the daylight broke, her body was found lifeless in the Elkhart River in nearby Noble County by fishermen. She was dumped there, obviously meant to be found. Her killer, however, is another story. He has never been found.
Ultimately, detectives from the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police examine the case closely through the years. Many people were interviewed, but there was never enough evidence to charge anyone.
Was Laurel abducted or did she go willingly with someone she knew? One of the best suspects in the case, according to police records, has since died. Whether he was the killer may never be known, but authorities – and Laurel’s remaining family members – still ultimately hope for answers and closure.
In 2018 Flowfeel Films was able to option a contract to pitch this docuseries to Amazon, History Channel, and other networks. While networks were very interested, the age of the case and lack of new evidence prevented networks from picking up the project.
Flowfeel Films will begin production summer 2019 to produce a 6 episode podcast series around the disappearance of Laurel Jean, her murder, and the mysteries surrounding the case.
As the production draws closer we will be releasing more details about the project. We feel that Laurel’s case is solvable and our goal is produce a podcast that will help bring more attention to the unsolved case.
If you would like to speak to us about this podcast and believe you can contribute in any way or want to share information or knowledge about this case please contact us below. We are in preliminary stages of lining up interviews. Please be aware that ALL correspondences will be shared with local and state law enforcement.