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Crime News Murders

Man Charged With Fatally Stabbing Indiana Couple Over Marijuana After 2017 House Party

“I stabbed her in the face so hard the knife got stuck,” Dustin Neal allegedly told a witness in regards to the 2017 slayings of 25 year-old Noele Trice and 29-year-old Bryan Lash.

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A suspect has been arrested in the previously unsolved double murder of an Indiana couple who were brutally stabbed to death after hosting a house party six years ago.

Dustin Neal, 35, was charged with two counts of murder, felony murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury in the 2017 killings of 25 year-old Noele Trice and 29-year-old Bryan Lash.

Trice and Lash were found stabbed to death inside their Fort Wayne home on June 10, 2017 by a partygoer who had attended a social gathering at the couple’s residence a night earlier, according to CBS-affiliated Fort Wayne news outlet WANE.com.

Many of the guests in attendance were “there to buy marijuana,” according to court documents cited by the station. Neal, who knew Trice for roughly 20 years, had also attended the party. At the time, he’d told police he left the party hours before Trice and Lash’s bodies were discovered.

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Police say new cell phone evidence, as well as a partial fingerprint, implicated Neal in the unsolved murders after detectives failed to make any arrests in the case for more than five years, according to CBS News.  

In October, authorities, including an FBI agent, examined Neal’s cellphone and concluded it had pinged off a tower near Trice and Lash’s home on the morning after the double murder. The analysis revealed the signals were relayed between 6:20 and 7:04 a.m. In past conversations with investigators, Neal had claimed several times he had never returned to the couple’s home after initially departing the party on the night of the double homicide.

A new witness also further tied Neal to the pair of killings, law enforcement said. The individual told investigators in October that Neal had boasted of carrying out the slayings, admitting he came back to their home after leaving the party in a botched attempt to steal marijuana from the couple’s residence. According to the witness, Neal confessed to murdering the couple after Lash woke up during the suspected robbery, WLS-TV reported.

“I stabbed her in the face so hard the knife got stuck,” Neal allegedly told the witness, according to court records, per WANE.com.

Neall allegedly declined to discuss the suspected double murder with a separate witness, however, he admitted “I have five bodies under me,” according to court documents.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the fact that we were able to bring a conclusion to this case with the arrest of Dustin Neal,” Detective Brian Martin of the Fort Wayne Police Department said, according to WANE. 

Authorities say Neal has a past criminal history and has been jailed on multiple occasions since the murders of Trice and Lash. Detectives maintained they’d eyed Neal as a person of interest from early on in the initial investigation.

“Dustin Neal was very familiar to myself and one of the original investigators that I worked with, and Dustin Neal, for lack of better terms, was very much on our radar,” Martin added.

Authorities, in particular, applauded witnesses who came forward in the case. Their involvement was crucial in securing Neal’s arrest, Fort Wayne Police said.

“If it was your family, your loved one who was taken from you in a violent way, you would want someone with that information to come forward,” Martin stated. “You would hope they would do it right away, but if they come forward at all and can provide that information and sit down with us, it usually brings good stuff to the case that we can use and move forward with evidence."

Neal is currently being held at Wells County Jail, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. It’s unclear if he’s retained legal counsel to comment on his behalf.

Anyone with additional tips pertaining to the open investigation is urged to contact the Fort Wayne Police Department at 260-427-1369. Anonymous tips can also be made by calling Crime Stoppers at 260-436-7867.

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