NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — On Tuesday, Indiana State Police and Noble County officials announced the arrests of two 67-year-old men in connection to a murder cold case from 1975.
Fred Bandy Jr. of Goshen and John Wayne Lehman of Auburn both face first-degree murder charges for the death of Laurel Jean Mitchell, who disappeared while walking to an amusement park and was later found drowned in a river.
Public records show Lehman graduated from West Noble High School and has not interacted with law enforcement until the recent murder charge.
Lehman also dealt with two divorces – one in 1994 and another in 2021 – and was the defendant in a few small claims civil suits throughout the years, according to Indiana court records.
However, court records show Bandy, who also went to West Noble High School as a teenager, has been convicted of sex crimes multiple times in Noble Circuit Court throughout the years.
In 2001, Bandy pleaded guilty to one count of child solicitation and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after having an initial charge of child molestation dropped following a plea agreement.
Bandy received a two-year prison sentence as a result of the plea agreement, according to Noble Circuit Court and Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) records.
In 2016, prosecutors charged Bandy with child molestation again in two separate cases involving children under 14. Bandy eventually pleaded guilty to the two counts before serving five years and 11 months in prison.
Prison records show Bandy was released from prison in the spring of 2020.
Both Lehman and Bandy have initial hearings in Noble Circuit Court set for Wednesday.