COLUMBIA CITY — When Indiana State Troopers Brian Kreger and Joe McLaughlin get on the scent of a wanted fugitive — they’d go beyond the grave to get their man.

Sort of.

Damion M. Bowling, 21, of the 300 block of East C.R. 1000S, Columbia City, was arrested by Kreger and McLaughlin on Jan. 26 on a warrant issued by Whitley County authorities charging him with failure to appear for court relating to two pending counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, a Level 6 felony.

Bowling allegedly tried to convince authorities he died in an attempt to avoid prosecution.

According to court records, Bowling had originally been charged with the sex crimes Nov. 1, 2019.

When he failed to make a scheduled court appearance, a warrant for his arrest was issued on Dec. 10, 2020.

Court records indicate that authorities motioned to dismiss the warrant on Jan. 19 because Bowling had died in Ohio.

Whitley County Prosecutor D.J. Sigler said the defendant posed as his father and told his lawyer and officials that he died — even going as far as sending a phony death certificate from the state of Ohio

The lawyer contacted the prosecutor’s office to relay the information, but it didn’t take long for Sigler’s team to recognize the lie.

“I’m told the death certificate looked legitimate, but it quickly became clear that he wasn’t dead,” Sigler said.

Sigler said he is still considering new charges for the case, especially relating to the fabrication of an official document.

Sigler said it’s not uncommon for people accused of crimes to be difficult to find, but this case took it to a new level.

“When some people are charged with a crime, they disappear into the woodwork and later get caught,” Sigler said. “That’s what happened in this case. He dropped off the radar.

“We were scratching our heads over here — we’ve heard it all now.”

On Jan. 25, the warrant was reissued and Whitley County Sheriff’s Department Detective Justin Yagel contacted McLaughlin and asked for his help finding Bowling.

That’s when McLaughlin and Kreger went to work.

“We were able to receive information he had a gifl friend and ty were living in Monroeville,” Kreger said.

Kreger and McLaughlin went to the girl friend’s house, who is a juvenile but above the age of consent, and located Bowling there.

Kreger praised the work of Yagel and the Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for their work.

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