Story Summary

Elderly woman found fatally shot at Gary casino

Elderly woman fatally shot at Gary casino parking garage

Police are investigating the murder of a 76-year-old woman.

Mary Austgen of Griffith, Ind., was found shot to death in her SUV at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary last month.

Check out our photo gallery related to the case here.

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A suspect in the shooting death of an Indiana woman professed his innocence during his first court appearance Friday.

Ralph Martinez is charged with murder and robbery in the shooting death of Mary Austgen whose body was found in Gary’s Majestic Star casino parking garage last month.

Investigators say Martinez’s ex-wife is the one who turned him into police after she and Martinez watched TV news reports about the $10,000 reward in the case.

The ex-wife told police Martinez asked, “is that all I’m worth?”

She also told investigators she found one of the victim’s rings and a gun in a bag similar to the one seen in surveillance videos.

Authorities say Ralph Martinez was a tenant of Austgen’s, but was recently evicted.

Martinez’s next court appearance is May 13th.

A month long murder case in NW Indiana has been solved. On Thursday, police charged  a man who they say used to work with a well-known businesswoman who was kidnapped and murdered weeks ago.

Robbery and retaliation both speak to motive and that is something police will not talk about. All they will say is that the suspect they charged with murder, robbery and criminal confinement was working alone. Mary Austgen’s family says the charges mean something else to them tonight.

The victim’s son, Jeff Austgen, says “It means  a lot of time in prison.”

A lot of prison time perhaps for this man. 57-year-old Ralph Martinez charged with killing 76-year-old Mary Austgen last month.  It’s been a week full of emotional highs and lows for the Austgen family. First the frenzy to find their mother’s killer, now the reality that she’s gone.

Police say Martinez was a tenant of Mary Austgen’s a year, maybe two years ago.

She was a successful property owner in Griffith who rented storage space, managed trailer parks among other things.   Police claim  Martinez may have been disgruntled or bitter about being evicted. They are certain he is the one captured on surveillance at the Austgen business on March 28th– taking 76-year-old Mary away in her own car to a casino in Gary.

Her body was found lifeless there the next morning. A gunshot wound to the abdomen.  Pictures released of the suspect along with pictures of the jewelry stolen from Austgen that night, led Ralph Martinez’s ex-wife to wonder if he was somehow involved.

Austgen’s rings were stolen and so was nearly $3,000.

In a court document released today Ralph Martinez told his ex-wife:

“That’s not me. Lots of people with money get killed.”

Her suspicions, however,  were confirmed when police offered a $10,000 reward in the Griffith murder, and Martinez allegedly told his ex-wife:

“Is that all I’m worth?”

She turned him into police the next morning.

She told detectives she later spotted one of Austgen’s missing rings at her own home and a .38 caliber gun inside a black and red bag– the gun  matched the weapon used in the murder. The bag can be seen in the surveillance video.

Locals in Griffith mourn for the family so well known all over this small Indiana town.

Police are no longer looking for anyone else connected to this murder– but they are looking for additional information. Anyone who can help should call Griffith police.

Ralph Perez Martinez

Here’s tweets from our reporter Julie Unruh about the suspect.

A news conference is expected soon. We’ll stream it live on

Prosecutors expect charges to be filed today against a suspect being questioned in the kidnapping and murder of Griffith, Indiana businesswoman Mary Austgen, 76. griffith

People in Griffith who knew the victim are relieved an arrest has been made.

Austgen was attacked and kidnapped at gunpoint from her family business on March 28.  She was found shot to death the next day inside her SUV in the parking lot of the Majestic Star Casino in Gary.

Investigators say a tip led them to search a home in the 12200 block of Lawndale Avenue in south suburban Alsip Tuesday evening.

The arrest came a day after Austgen’s family made a public plea for help in finding her killer,  reminding everyone that a $10,000 reward was being offered for information.

Police also released photos of two distinctive rings that were taken from Austgen at the time of her murder.  But police say those photos did not lead them to the suspect.

Earlier in the investigation police released photos of a man who was caught on surveillance camera at Austgen’s business on the day of her disappearance.   A half hour later that same man was seen on casino surveillance video arriving in the parking garage with Austgen, and 40 minutes after that he was seen getting into a black 4-door car and driving off with someone else.

“Whoever was in that black 4-door vehicle, we would still like to speak with that person,” said Griffith police Detective Lt. Matthew Argadine.

Griffith police are not saying if that person they want to talk to could face any charges — only that they want to speak to them.  They are expected to file charges against the person who was arrested Tuesday evening.

Charges could be announced Thursday for the murder of a woman at a casino in Indiana.

Mary Austgen, 76, was found dead in her car on March 29.

Police say a man abducted her from work the previous day and shot her in the parking garage at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary.

On Monday, police announced an award and released pictures of two rings that had been taken.

The next day, police executed a search warrant at a home in south suburban Alsip.

Police say they have the shooter in custody, but they’re still looking for the driver of his getaway car.

Almost a month after a Griffith Indiana businesswoman was kidnapped and shot to death at an area casino; police have made some progress in the case.  A suspect has been taken into custody and charges are expected to be filed Thursday.

A search warrant was executed Tuesday and law enforcement surrounded a house in Alsip– about a half an hour from Griffith.

Police took a man away in handcuffs and Wednesday, they are continuing to look for another person who might be tied to the murder.

Griffith Police Detective Lieutenant Matt Argadine said “We received a tip, followed it up and that’s how we got to this point.”

GaryCasinoVictimSuspectGriffith Police are one step closer to charging the person they say kidnapped and killed 76-year-old Mary Austgen last month.  Law enforcement raided a home on Lawndale Street near 122nd in broad daylight Tuesday.

Neighbors saw the whole thing.  Kevin Piekarski said at “About 5:30, I’m looking out the window [and they] brought someone out in handcuffs.”

On Wednesday, the house was largely quiet, but a car filled with four women and a baby did unload in the driveway in the early afternoon.

On Monday, detectives and the Austgen family made a public plea for help. They released photos of Mrs. Austgen’s distinctive jewelry that was taken from her on the night she was murdered. Her grieving son mentioned there was a $10,000 reward on the table for anyone who could help capture his mom’s killer.

Mary Austgen was taken from her place of work in Griffith on March 28th, police say, by a man caught on surveillance video at her office.  He forced her to the Majestic Star Casino in Gary then slipped away a short time later in this black four door vehicle driven by another person. They think it is a BMW.

The victim was found dead in her car inside the casino garage the next morning– seven hours later.

Interestingly, detectives reiterate a tip led them to Tuesday’s arrest– no connection to the rings stolen from her body as they had hoped earlier in the week.

Charges have not yet been filed.

A $10,000 reward is being offered to anyone who can help police in identifying a suspect or suspects responsible for kidnapping and murdering a 76-year-old Griffith, Ind. woman.


Mary C. Austgen

Police say that Mary C. Austgen was attacked then kidnapped at gunpoint from her family business at 801 E.  Main St. in Griffith at approximately 5:40 p.m. on March 28. Further evidence revealed that two rings that Austgen was wearing were possibly taken during the abduction.

The victim was found in her white 2011 GMC Yukon Denali by personnel at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary. She had sustained a fatal gunshot to the abdomen.

Police are also trying to identify a person of interest driving a black four door vehicle that picked the suspect up at the Valet area of the Majestic Star Casino at approximately 6:45 PM on March 28th 2013.


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives put $5,000 toward the reward; the other half of the $10,000 reward was donated by private individuals.

Anybody who has any information can contact the Griffith Police Department at 219-924-3141 or the Griffith Police Department anonymous tip line at


One of the victim’s rings possibly taken during abduction

219-922-3085 or can e-mail the Griffith Police Department at  They can also contact the Detective Lorenzo Davis of the Gary Police Homicide Division at 219-881-4738 or the Gary Police anonymous tip line at 866-274-6347. Individuals can also contact the ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUN.

The victim’s family members are expected to make a public announcement at a news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the Griffith Police Department.

For more photos related to the case, click here.

Police investigating the murder of an elderly woman at a casino may be looking for a second suspect.

Mary Austgen, 76, was shot to death in her SUV, at Majestic Star Casino last month.

Surveillance photos show the suspect entering the casino through the garage and leaving in a black SUV.

The Northwest Indiana Times reports that the suspect got in the passenger side of that SUV, so now investigators are looking for the driver.

The victim and the suspect were not seen inside the casino together.

Police are hoping new surveillance photos will help them find the man suspected in the murder of a northwest Indiana woman.

New images from the Majestic Star Casino’s surveillance cameras show the man suspected of abducting and killing 76-year-old Mary Austgen.  He’s seen entering the building through the parking garage, then exiting through the front and getting into a black SUV.

Police believe this is the same man seen here in earlier video entering Austgen’s business Thursday night.

She was later found shot to death, in her car, in the casino’s garage early Friday morning.

Indiana authorities have released surveillance  images of the suspect in the kidnapping and murder of an elderly woman whose body was found at a casino.

Police say they believe the man was the last person to see the victim alive.

76-year-old Mary Austgen was abducted from her family business in Griffith Indiana last Thursday evening.  After her family reported her missing, she was found shot to death early Friday morning in the parking garage of the Majestic Star Casino in Gary.


Mary Austgen (left) and surveillance photo of possible suspect (right).

Gary and Griffith police are working together on the case.

The surveillance photos show him walking into Austen’s family business wearing a black jacket and a Harley Davidson hat with an orange flame.  He was wearing dark sunglasses.  Police believe he is in his late 40s or early 50s. (

Police say Mary Austen was found in her white GMC  truck and  had been shot in the abdomen.  Police say they believe she was targeted, and that e

mployees are guests of the casino should not be concerned about their safety.

Anyone with information can call the Griffith Police at 219-924-3141 or the Griffith Police anonymous tip line at 219-922-3085 Individuals c

an also contact Gary Police Detective Lorenzo Davis at 219-881-4738 or the Gary Police anonymous tip line at 866-274-6347.

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Elderly woman found fatally shot at Gary casinoPolice in Northwest Indiana are investigating the death of an elderly woman who was found fatally shot in a casino parking garage.

The victim is Mary Austgen, 76, of Saint John.

Austgen was reported missing Thursday afternoon in Griffith, where her family owns a business. Police are now focusing their investigation on that business, treating it as a crime scene.

Her body was found overnight in a car parked inside garage 2D at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary. Austgen had been shot once in the lower left torso, according to the Lake County, IN coroner.

Gary police, Griffith  police, and the Lake County Crime Lab are working together on the homicide investigation. No one is in custody, police said.