Vinton man charged in 1998 Indiana homicide

19-year-old woman was stabbed 33 times, officials say

Trish Mehaffey
Published: January 24 2014 | 2:50 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:37 am in

Clinton Mackey denied more than once and as recently as last week before he confessed Tuesday to Benton County authorities that he killed a West Terre Haute, Ind., woman in 1998.

Mackey, 33, of Vinton, was charged with murder Friday in the Sept. 6, 1998 slaying of Erika Case, 19, who was stabbed to death 33 times. Mackey waive extradition Thursday to Vigo County, Indiana, after confessing to his wife and then Benton County Sheriff Randy Forsyth.

According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in Vigo County, Mackey, who was 18 at the time, told at least one friend, Penny Garriotta, after the murder in 1998 that he feared he had hurt Case that night.

Garriott said Mackey told her if she ever said "anything to anybody he would hurt me." She admitted this "severely frightened" her and that is the reason she never before told anybody all the details of that day.

Mackey remains in custody at the Vigo County Jail and no bond has been set. His trial is set for July 14.

Forsyth said Friday he was the first person to speak to Mackey but he stopped him to make sure he knew his rights. Mackey then gave details of the crime to Forsyth and Det. Jerry Michaels. Forsyth said Mackey seemed “relieved more than anything.”

Forsyth said he didn’t have many details about Mackey’s life except that has lived in Vinton for about five years and married a woman shortly after the homicide, and they have three children. Mackey is unemployed, but had previously worked in Cedar Rapids.

Vinton residents on Friday told KCRG they were shocked to find out the man who helped Cindy Senner, a neighbor who lived across the street from Mackey, clean up following a big windstrorm several years ago was the same man accused of homicide.

Some patrons at the Ron-Da-Voo bar in downtown Vinton remembered Mackey as a frequent visitor.

Michaels said Mackey told him he “needed to get it off his chest,” according to the affidavit. Mackey said he was partying that night with a friend, Isaiah Dooley, at a home where Case and her sister had been house sitting. The three of them were drinking and doing LSD that night, according to the affidavit.

Later, Case got sick and passed out. Mackey then took Dooley home and he said while he was driving he knew he was going to return to Case’s but didn’t tell Dooley.

During an interview with authorities, Dooley said Mackey had told him he tried to have sex with Case that night but she rejected him, according to the affidavit. Dooley said Mackey was acting strange that night and made him feel "weird."

Mackey said when he arrived back at Case’s, she was lying on her back, and he went into the kitchen and got a knife, the knife they had used earlier to cut a pizza. Mackey then said when he stabbed Case, she “struggled a little bit, but soon became incoherent.”

According to the affidavit, Case was stabbed 33 times on her face, neck, chest, arms, scalp and back. She died from the stab wounds to her neck. Her left and right carotid arteries were severed and the injuries on her arms appeared to be consistent with defensive wounds, according to an autopsy report.

Erika's sister, Mary Case, arrived at the house the morning of Sept. 6, 1998 to check on her sister and found her lying on the floor with a blanket covering her body, according to the affidavit. Mary Case said her sister had massive wounds to her face and there was no sign of life.

Mackey said he took the knife when he left and went to his grandparent’s home, according to the affidavit. He took off his clothing, cleaned his boots, along with the knife, and put them in a bag. Later, he drove to the Wabash River and threw the bag into the water. He then went back to his grandparents and went to sleep.

Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing and other law enforcement officials explained during a news conference Friday morning how the cold case “heated up” after the case was reopened six months ago.

Ewing said so many have been involved in the 15-year investigation, including a special thanks to Forsyth, his department and the Vinton Police Department, for their help. Ewing said they reopened the case when they received investigative assistance from a retired detective and crime scene investigator who are on the TNT drama “Cold Justice.” The television series, which goes back and re-investigates actual cold cases, had decided to feature the Case homicide.

The Cold Justice team, along with the Vigo County authorities, went back through the entire case, re-interviewed about 30 witnesses and “turned up the heat,” on Mackey, Ewing said. The investigation has taken them from Indiana to Texas (where Mackey lived at some point) and to Florida and Iowa to find witnesses.

Capt. John Moats said they had the help of former detectives who were building on the case over the last 15 years, and they gathered more information with each new interview of the witnesses. They re-examined all the evidence and new advancements in technology concerning DNA helped them.

Moats said Mackey knew everything they were doing.

Ewing said witnesses would call Mackey and ask him about his involvement after talking with authorities.

“His friends were calling him and.....on Facebook…asking him questions,” Ewing said.

Ewing pointed out that his department usually only has the Indiana State Police to rely on for their resources, but having Cold Justice on the team allowed them to have more resources and investigative tools. The "Cold Justice" team could send evidence to different places for testing, he said.

Ewing and the others said there is nobody else involved in the crime besides Mackey, but they will continue to investigate and question witnesses to build a solid case as it goes forward to trial.

Ewing said the most important thing to remember is Case and her family – what happened to her and what her family has gone through. He said he hopes they will have peace someday.

The "Cold Justice" episode focusing on the case will air on TNT Feb. 14.

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