Courtesy of Tri State
Authorities were able to positively identify Aleah Beckerle’s remains through a unique medical device called a vagus nerve stimulator, according to Evansville police Captain Andy Chandler. Known as the pacemaker of the brain, the nerve stimulator is frequently used on patients with epilepsy. Each device comes with a serial number that’s unique to each patient, police said. As the investigation into the woman’s death continues so too does the outpouring of support from the community.
According to Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear, the official cause of Beckerle’s death won’t be determined for at least another week. While inquiry into her death has been classified as a criminal investigation, police stopped short of calling it a homicide investigation while detectives wait for the cause of death.
Acting on a tip, detectives responded to a blighted home at 1628 South Bedford and discovered the remains Monday night.
As was the case in the hours that followed the announcement that Beckerle’s remains had been identified, droves of people converged on neighborhood. Many people slowly drove by, silently shaking their heads as they mentally processed the scene. Many more people came and dropped off flowers, balloons, teddy bears and candles. They spoke in hushed tones.
One of those that stopped Thursday afternoon was Lacia Hawes, Beckerle’s former peer tutor.
“She was bright. She was so bright. If you really know Aleah you could tell her different screams,” Hawes said. “Once you listen to her, you understand her as an individual. She was an amazing person to be around.”
Hawes said the news that Beckerle’s body had been found was extremely saddening but also not surprising. Hawes knew the once-missing woman needed constant attention.
“I know what it’s like to take care of Aleah because she had medications that she had to go through,” Hawes said. “She had all types of stipulations that she had to strictly follow in order to help her live day to day.”
The scene outside the home on Bedford Avenue was a tragic contradiction. The worst of humanity led to Aleah’s body potentially being placed in the home while the best of humanity brought tokens of remembrance in honor of Aleah outside the home.
However, answers to questions like how and why Aleah ended up there remain elusive.
“It kind of makes me feel a little broken. I don’t understand how you can do this to an individual that can’t even help themselves. That says a lot of whoever did this,” Hawes said. “It makes you wonder if there is any humanity anymore. Evansville is a small community and this is happening. This is the kind of stuff that you hear on the TV happening in bigger cities. This is normal to them. This is new to us.”
According to property records, the home at 1628 South Bedford is owned by SNG Properties LLC. The registered agent of the company has an address on East Florida Street. Gary Hopple, the registered agent, was not available for comment, according to an employee.
City officials said the home had recently gone unsold at the most recent county tax sale and is in the process of being moved into the city land bank. It will likely be demolished later this year.
Kelley Coures, the executive director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, said the previous Building Commissioner, Ben Miller, had once drafted a plan that called for the creation of a vacant home registry.
The registry would require owners of homes that were to be vacant or are currently vacant for an extended period of time to register those properties. As part of the registration process, the property owner contact information would be on pile.
“If you’re looking for a missing person, if there is a situation like that, you automatically have a list of properties that are vacant and you have the owners, name and contact information at your fingertips so the police could use that,” Coures said. “If that property had been listed on a registry somewhere at least they would have had the owners contact information it would have been a property they could’ve known was vacant and known to look.”