A prosecutor ruled today that a man who died from 32 hammer blows to the head was murdered, and Hobart police agreed to reopen the year-old case they originally had ruled a suicide.
However, Lake County Prosecutor Jack F. Crawford said there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone with the murder.
Crawford said he made his decision after reviewing an investigation conducted by the Indiana State Police into the April 6, 1985, death of James A. Cooley, 52.
Hobart police had maintained that Cooley battered himself to death with a claw hammer in the basement of his home.
Police Chief Larry Juzwicki said today that because of Crawford’s opinion, the Cooley investigation will be reopened and reclassified from suicide to homicide.
Lake County Coroner Daniel D. Thomas had long contended that Cooley could not have remained conscious long enough to hit himself 32 times, but police cited evidence gathered by a blood splatter expert from Oregon, Rod Englert, who examined the findings in the case.
Englert said the pattern of blood in the room showed that no one could have stood over Cooley to deliver the blows. He also said that because Cooley’s body was found propped against a door, an assailant would not have been able to kill him and leave the room.