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COLD CASE FILES: The mysterious disappearance and murder of Ada Haradine

By Kristin Bien
Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:08:04 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 11 2013 04:36:48 AM CST

It was exactly 28 years ago today -- May 8th, 1985 -- when 39-year-old Ada Haradine disappeared. The devout catholic and stay at home mother of two boys lived in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Elkhart -- It was also the last place she was seen alive. Her remains were discovered in rural Cass County three years later. She had been murdered.

Now, a group of investigators is joining together to take a fresh look at this cold case. Investigators from the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office, Indiana State Police, the Cass County Sheriff's Department and the Elkhart City Police Department will review the evidence and re-interview people. The team will also submit more physical evidence to the Michigan State Crime lab with the hope that new technology can find DNA not previously able to be detected.

But in order to solve this case, police need information from the public. That is why, they shared the story of the disappearance and murder of Ada Haradine with WSBT.

Who was Ada Haradine?

"I would describe her as very caring about the people around her. A well grounded person," says Jeff Haradine, "but for me at the time, she was just my mom."

Ada Haradine's boys have grown up. The day she disappeared, Jeff was 9, and greg was 18 and away at college. Now, 28 years later, they still don't know who murdered their mom.

"I think people out there know something. I think about a couple people have the answers that I would like to have," says Jeff.

"I want some answers and I want whoever did it to get what they deserve in my opinion," says Greg.

Her mysterious disappearance.

The last time Ada Haradine was seen alive was May 8th, 1985.

"She was in the backyard," says Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office Investigator, Dave Gizzi, as he stands in the road in from the family's former home.

Gizzi says witnesses told police they saw Ada in her yard that afternoon -- 10 minutes before Jeff's school bus was to drop him off in front of their Elkhart home in the upscale, East Lake Estates neighborhood.

"Was anything found in the driveway, scuff marks? anything that would indicate a struggle?" we asked Gizzi.

"Absolutely nothing," Gizzi says adamantly, "nothing was found here to indicate there was any type of foul play. she just, like vanished."

"I remember coming home that day and she wasn't home. That was very -- I remember that being very unusual," says Jeff.

Ada's sons say she was a devoted wife and mother -- she was quiet and kind. She stayed busy at the YMCA and at her church and she was always there for her children. So the day she wasn't, was cause for concern. The problem, police didn't have much to go on.

"The only thing strange at the home, was that there was nothing strange," says Gizzi.

Ada left all her stuff behind and nothing was missing from the home or out of place. But there was one clue, earlier that day, Ada and her niece heard a noise from inside the house.

"The niece described the sound as being something strange. Just out of the ordinary. So much so they got up to take a look but they couldn't find anything," says Gizzi.

To this day, investigators think that noise was tied to her disappearance.

Police got hundreds of tips after Ada disappeared, some came from as far away as Las Vegas. Her family, obviously devastated, continued to look.

"It is hard when you are that age not to hold out hope that maybe someday she comes back to me," says Jeff.

Ada is Found...

"Right in this location here," says Gizzi as he walks us along a steep hillside, "down about 20 yards."

3 years after she disappeared, Ada's remains were found in rural Cass County. Mushroom hunters scouring an area off Birch road, north of U.S. 12, called police when they found bones along a steep hillside. Ada's wedding ring was found among her remains but police found no clothes or shoes. She had been beaten to death -- Her skull and jaw had been fractured.

"There was also, where she was found, a couple rocks about the size of your fist or a little bigger and conceivably the pathologist said, that could have been the item used to cause the blunt force trauma," says Gizzi.

Police aren't sure though. They don't know if Ada was killed along that hillside or if her body was dumped there after the murder. Gizzi believes that whoever killed Ada Haradine might have had a connection to that area -- to that hillside.

"There are a few individuals they are looking at that might have a connection," says Gizzi.

And even 28 years later, everyone agrees there are people out there that might know something about that connection and what happened to Ada Haradine.

"What do i want out of it? I think we want the next level of closure if that is possible," says Jeff, "I think we would like to know a little bit more about what happened."

"I have to believe there is people out there that know information," says Greg.

Suspects? Rumors?

Police say initially they had "persons of interest" in Ada's case. But because they are taking a fresh look at the case, Gizzi says they are "taking the blinders off" and looking at all possibilities.

Gizzi says when this happened all those years ago, there were a lot of rumors that circulated. Some believed the mob was involved. Police say that was investigated thoroughly and nothing was substantiated.

Also, a witness told police they saw a large blue car parked outside the house and a man wearing a hat talking to Ada -- they were never able to ID that person.

Do you know something?

You can make an anonymous tip by calling (574)288-STOP

Or call Dave Gizzi at the Elkhart County Prosecutors Office: (574)296-1897


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