Real Name: Jay Neil Given
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: East Chicago, Indiana
Date: May 15, 1981
Details: Jay Given was a politically-minded city attorney and master fundraiser who had helped elect Robert Pastrick as mayor of East Chicago in 1970. Over time, however, they had a falling out. In 1981, Pastrick was running for re-election, supported by Hispanic-Americans, against county commissioner N. Atterson Spann, supported by the local black and white community. On the night of May 15, Jay attended Spann's fundraiser at the East Chicago Elks Club. As he was heading out the front doors at 11pm, he was shot once in the back of the head at point-blank range. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting occurred not far from over four hundred witnesses, but no one saw the killer.
Detectives found a .45-caliber shell casing in the foyer of the club. They also found the bullet, which had went through the front door, hit a building across the street, and landed in the road. Detective Paul DiCharia locked the evidence in his desk, rather than putting it in the evidence vault. Four days later, he noticed someone had drilled a hole through the casing to keep it from being matched to a gun. He also noticed that someone had used a sharp instrument to cut into the grooves on the bullet; this also prevented it from being matched. The only people who had access were the other officers; it seemed like an inside job.
Despite the damage to the bullet and casing, the FBI identified the murder weapon as a rare Detonics 1911-style combat Master handgun. It had a specially modified ejecting mechanism. There were only fifty-eight weapons with that. Incredibly, one of them belonged to deputy police chief John Cardona. He had attended the fundraiser and was a member of a Spanish speaking political group that was at odds with Jay. It was noted that members of his group were not welcome at the event.
Cardona never explained why he was at the club. Witnesses claimed to have seen him following Jay prior to the shooting. Although he claimed to be at the bar at the time of the shooting, no one could place him there. Furthermore, his description matched that of a man seen arguing with Jay in the lobby. The witness claimed that the man was 6'1" with wavy, black hair, and wearing a specific type of clothing. All of this matched with Cardona. The witness claimed to have went to the bathroom and when he returned, he saw that Jay had been shot.
Failing a polygraph test, Cardona refused a second exam and was later dismissed from the police department. He later moved out of state and maintains his innocence. Some believe that the evidence against him may actually point away from him. They question why he would make his presence known at the place where he would murder Jay. They also wonder why he would stalk him several minutes before the murder. Finally, they wonder why he would kill him within a few feet of several hundred witnesses.
Police are still hoping to find witnesses to the murder. They are trying to identify three men who were coming down the stairs in close proximity to the murder.
Suspects: John Cardona is a prime suspect in this case. He was seen at the club on the night of the murder and apparently was following Jay around. He matched the description of the man seen talking to Jay shortly before he was killed. He also visited the hospital where Jay was taken after the shooting, but gave no reason why. He had owned one of the rare guns that was used in the murder. He also had access to the drawer where the evidence was taken from and tampered. Also, shortly before the murder, he had asked another officer about how a bullet or shell casing could be traced back to a specific gun. Finally, he had motive to kill Jay, who claimed that he would have him demoted if Spann was elected. However, no one could place him at the actual location of the murder at the time. He himself reported his Detonics handgun had been stolen six months earlier.
At the time Jay was killed, five people were coming down that stairs. Three of them, all African-American men, have never been identified. Investigators would like to speak to them in hopes that they saw the perpetrator.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 5, 1994 episode.
Results: Unsolved. More recently, police have noted that they want to requestion another witness, a woman who worked in the club. She apparently saw something and left work quickly, but did not tell police what she witnessed. According to the witness's daughter, she is now in her eighties, living in a nursing home, and does not want to talk about this case. Some believe that she was threatened into silence. Meanwhile, Cardona remains the prime suspect. Jay's family is convinced that he was responsible, but that "East Chicago politics" kept him from being arrested.
Sadly, Jay's widow, Phyllis, passed away in 2009 without ever seeing this case solved.
- Jay Given on Unsolved.com
- Jay Given Slain Inside E.C. Club
- Jay Given's Obituary
- Will deaths go unsolved?
- Perjury claim reopens slaying case
- Son seeks clues to father's death
- Victim's son wants father's murder solved
- Son still seeks clues to father's death
- Son dreams of avenging murder
- Jay Given: Case cold nearly 30 years later
- Shot in the back of the head: 40 years later, Given case still rocks region
- Cold Case: Jay Given
- Jay Given on Find a Grave