Lola Katherine Fry

Missing Since November 14, 1993

News Articles

Indianapolis Star, The (IN)

November 24, 2003

Police aren't doing enough, say kin of missing woman


Section: NEWS
Page: A01

Index Terms:
Crime & Justice
Lola Fry
Vernon Coleman
Darlene Pitts
William Vann
LaVerne Barker
John Ryker
Indiana State Police

Estimated printed pages: 4

Article Text:

GREENWOOD, Ind. -- Every time an unidentified woman's body is found in Indiana, Vernon Coleman reaches for his car keys.

Ten years ago, his daughter Lola Katherine Fry, then 28, disappeared. He's been searching for her ever since.

Coleman says police have given up, but he hasn't. The 63-year-old Fortville man has traveled across the state to locations where bodies have been found in case it might be his missing daughter.

"I don't hear nothing from the State Police," he said. "I haven't heard anything from them for years."

Fry was trying to change her life at the time of her disappearance, family members say. She had stopped working as a dancer at a strip club in Indianapolis.

Fry's sister, Darlene Pitts, has tried to convince police to reactivate the case, fearing Fry's past may have caught up with her. But so far, Pitts' cajoling has not worked, she said.

"Where is the advocate from the police to the family?" Pitts asked. "We are not asking for investigators' notes, just what's been done."

Indiana State Police Detective William Vann said he understands the family's frustration. He was assigned the case years after Fry disappeared.

"At times, they have felt I was a great detective, and other times they have . . . raked me over the coals and have caused me to justify my work to the (State Police) superintendent, prosecutor -- the whole nine yards," Vann said.

The detective said the family can bring him leads and he'll evaluate them. But he adds: "I am not going to run around blind and let them lead me by the nose and be their private investigator."

Vann said he hopes publicity about the case will lead to some new leads.

Fry was last seen at a party in November 1993. She had left her car parked at an Eastside restaurant. The car also is missing.

"Somebody had to do something with the car," Vann said. "Short of putting it into water or a storage facility, there's limited things someone could do with a car . . ."

Fry's older sister, LaVerne Barker, reported Fry missing Nov. 18, 1993, four days after she failed to arrive at Barker's home.

"I would say she was murdered," Barker said. "She has never been found, and neither has her car," a 1990 red and black Mitsubishi Eclipse with the license plate LOLA.

Just before she turned up missing, Fry had made a decision to move to Fort Wayne to live with Barker.

She disappeared before that could happen.

When Barker called Indiana State Police in 1999 for an update on the investigation, she was told the case wasn't assigned to a detective. Vann got the case at the end of that year.

Vann said he volunteered for the investigation because he had heard about the case from other investigators years ago.

"I wanted a crack at it," he said.

Barker said Vann moved quickly at first.

"Once we started asking questions, pushing, something happened and I don't know how, but all of a sudden Detective Vann knew a lot in a short time," Barker said.

Vann said investigators use different methods and styles in investigating cases.

"I picked an avenue to proceed, and it panned out, in a lot of ways," he said.

That effort resulted in a search warrant being issued Sept. 25, 2000, for the Greenwood residence of Fry's former boyfriend, John Ryker, now 52. Ryker could not be reached for comment.

The search warrant affidavit said that on Nov. 13, 1993, Fry had been at her hair stylist's Indianapolis apartment with Ryker at a party when she either fell unconscious or died.

One of the men at the party told Vann that Fry had either passed out or overdosed on drugs, according to the affidavit. Vann was told that Ryker and two other men covered Fry with a blanket and carried her out to Ryker's car. Another man present at the party confirmed the story.

No one checked to see whether Fry was dead or alive, the affidavit said. No evidence of foul play was found at Ryker's residence.

Ryker told police he and Fry returned to his home and that he left for work about 7:30 a.m. When he returned an hour later, he said, she and her car were gone.

Pitts and Barker question why no one at the party tried to find out whether their sister was all right or seek medical help for her.

"Why weren't those people held accountable?" Pitts asked. Eighteen months ago, Pitts decided to push police to do more.

She contacted the local and national media. She searched public records and wrote to then-Gov. Frank O'Bannon and President Bush. She contacted the FBI, prosecutors, Marion County grand jury investigators, political candidates and public officials.

Barker warned her that police don't work on old missing persons cases.

"Murder cases, yes, but missing persons, no," Barker said.

Based on a tip, Pitts arranged to have divers from northern Indiana search for Fry and her car in June. They didn't find anything in the gravel pits along Wicker Road in Marion County, west of Ind. 37.

Last winter, Vann received a tip that Fry might have been buried near the former residence of an Outlaws motorcycle gang associate.

Police dug at the site about a month ago but again found nothing.

Vann declined to discuss what he will and will not investigate.

"We are accused of one-way communication," Vann said. "They say, 'We don't get to see what he's got,' and they never will. We don't do that."

Meanwhile, Fry's family continues to prod the investigators.

"Somebody's got to do it," said Daniel Coleman, Fry's younger brother.

Vann believes he is doing all he can.

"I will go where the investigation points, where the investigation leads me," he said. "I will follow any lead until it can't be followed any more."

Call Star reporter Paul Bird at 1-317-444-2709.

Copyright (c) The Indianapolis Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: ind77858351


Indianapolis Star, The (IN)

October 17, 2003

Excavation fails to find any bodies
Police dig up property in search for 2 women


Page: B01

Index Terms:
Crime & Justice

Estimated printed pages: 3

Article Text:

A daylong police search of property with suspected links to the Outlaws motorcycle gang failed to find the body of Shannon Turner, the missing girlfriend of the group's enforcer.

Indianapolis Police Department officers led the search in a field off Ind. 37 in Perry Township. The effort also involved a bulldozer, a backhoe and dogs trained to find bodies, as well as ground radar from the Indiana Geological Survey.

Police acknowledged they were looking for more than one possible victim. There are no plans to continue searching at the location.

While Indianapolis police would not confirm that they were looking for Turner or Lola Katherine Fry, neighbors in the 4000 block of Wicker Road recently were questioned by detectives from the IPD's cold case unit, the State Police and the FBI about both women. Officers had permission from the property owner to dig, so they did not need a search warrant.

Fry, 28 when she disappeared, reportedly spent part of the night almost a decade ago at the home of a former boyfriend near Ind. 135 and Fairview Road and then vanished.

The last official accounting of Fry was that she had been partying with friends at an Eastside Indianapolis apartment and either passed out or died.

Police have been told that Fry was carried to a car and driven away by her former boyfriend, a Greenwood man. He said Fry was at his home, and he left her there and went to work.

State Police 1st Sgt. William Vann received information that Fry could have been buried at the Wicker Road location, a site where Larry Ballard lived. Vann said Ballard, 50, had links to the Outlaws and had been arrested by federal authorities on drug charges.

"The information I was getting was more of a connection with Shannon Turner," he said.

Turner disappeared in November 1997, when she was 33. Last spring, federal prosecutors in Ohio charged David Mays, an Indianapolis Outlaws enforcer, with Turner's murder, even though her body has not been found. Like Fry, Turner was an exotic dancer in Indianapolis.

Ballard was sentenced Feb. 25 to 121 months in prison on methamphetamine charges after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute in excess of 500 grams.

At Vann's request, Ballard was placed in a highly secure cell during the investigation into Fry's disappearance. Ballard, however, escaped from a Manchester, Ky., prison June 16.

"We were thinking of Lola Fry and that changed to Shannon Turner," Vann said. "The Turner case is IPD's."

The lead to the Wicker Road property surfaced early last spring.

On June 6, Lake County Sheriff's Capt. Hank Woronka, who also operates Aquatics Recovery & Rescue, and his divers searched for Fry and her car, a 1990 red and black Mits ubishi Eclipse, in lakes near the Wicker Road site. The divers had traveled for free to Marion County at the request of Fry's sister, Darlene Pitts.

"We were told to go there and dive by a State Police officer who didn't want to get involved," Pitts said. "It was Hank who found the witnesses who saw someone digging in the field early in the morning."

Woronka said neighbors approached him about someone digging in the Wicker Road field.

"It just came up in conversation," he said Thursday. "It needed to be checked out."

Mays and three dozen other Outlaws are accused in indictments of being involved in drug dealing, arson, bombings, intimidation, shootings and murder.

Turner's sister, Valerie Turner-Joss, hasn't heard from police.

"We just heard that the place they were digging has an Outlaw connection,"' she said. However, the address and Ballard's name were not familiar to her, she said.

Joseph Wilson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Ohio who is prosecuting the Outlaws there, refused to comment on whether any of the incarcerated gang members provided information about the location.

The trial doesn't start until February, but there is a Nov. 9 deadline for the Outlaws to reach plea agreements. Often, those charged with crimes will offer information about other crimes to reduce their sentences, Wilson said, adding that several plea discussions are ongoing.

"I expect to see some activity very soon," he said. "I expect to see things start jumping."

Wilson refused to discuss what evidence prosecutors have that links Mays to Turner's death.

IPD spokesman Sgt. Steve Staletovich said the Wicker Road investigation stemmed from media tips and other sources.

Staletovich said Thursday's excavation was aimed at finding people missing within the past five years.

"We would have been negligent if we hadn't pursued this," he said.

Star reporter John Tuohy contributed to this story.

Call Star reporter Paul Bird at 1-317-865-4909.

Copyright (c) The Indianapolis Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: ind75496697


Indianapolis Star, The (IN)

November 14, 2002

Woman's loss leaves family deeply pained
Police have theory, but no answers as to what happened to Lola Fry 9 years ago today


Section: StarSouth
Page: S01

Index Terms:

Estimated printed pages: 4

Article Text:

Brookley Louks isn't the only woman to disappear from Greenwood without a trace.

Nine years ago today, Lola Katherine Fry, then 28, reportedly spent part of the night at the home of a former boyfriend near Ind. 135 and Fairview Road and then disappeared.

Also vanishing was her red 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse with the personalized license plate: LOLA.

And like the Louks case, police have a prime suspect and presume Fry is dead. However, no direct evidence of either woman's death exists.

The last official accounting of Fry was that she had been partying with friends at an Eastside Indianapolis apartment and either passed out or died.

Police have been told Fry was carried to a car and driven away by her former boyfriend, a Greenwood man. His story was that Fry was at his home and he left her there and went to work.

Fry was to have traveled to Fort Wayne to a sister's home but never arrived.

Police questioned the former boyfriend, and he allowed officers to search his home and business. No charges were sought against him or the people who carried Fry to the man's vehicle.

Fry's siblings believe their sister is dead.

The family would like to bring her home and end their nine-year nightmare. The family encourages anyone with information about Fry's location to call 1-888-347-LOLA (347-5652).

Even now, the family's emotions run high when discussing Fry. The family has collected public records about the case, seeking clues to whereabouts of the family member they know as Kathy.

Greenwood childhood

Kim Ely, 43, recalls her childhood and growing up in the Greenwood area with her four sisters and brother. The family consisted of Vernon and Delphia Coleman and six children. Following Ely in the family pecking order are LaVerne Barker, Darlene Pitts, Carol Morenos, Fry and Christopher "Daniel" Coleman.

The Colemans divorced a few years ago after 38 years of marriage, and at least three of the children believe losing Fry was the reason.

Ely is the oldest child.

"We were all in Center Grove Schools," she said.

Pitts and Ely remember their childhood and recall the usual things young girls do, such as trading skirts and blouses and snuggling together in bed.

They also remember their mother suffering a stroke and how Fry stepped up to help care for their younger brother.

"I believe Daniel has suffered the most from Kathy's disappearance," Pitts said. "She filled in for mom."

Ely agreed: "They were very close."

The years since Fry disappeared have stretched emotions and broken hearts.

"To this day, it is hard for us to accept," Pitts said.

Fry always had time for her family, and she favored her sisters' children, and they favored her.

"She really loved them, and they loved her," Ely said.

"The thing that us six kids have in common is the bond we share because of our childhood," Pitts said. "We have bonded more, I believe, because of the things life brought us. We were always together -- good or bad. That is why this is so hard on us.

"We can't get to Kathy to help. It is such an empty feeling, trying to find Kathy to help her and not being able too. This feeling cannot be described -- you just gotta feel it to know it."

Vernon Coleman has felt it. He realizes that having Kathy missing breaks the family circle of memories.

Fry's father misses his daughter popping by his Indianapolis Northeastside home.

He misses "his girls" -- Kim, Laverne, Carol, Kathy and Darlene -- lining up to receive their goodnight kisses before bed.

"We would kiss him on the cheek every night before we went to bed, and once Dad would say, 'Hit the sack,' we knew it was bedtime. He says he misses the hugs and kisses we all gave him."

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Coleman's heart grows heavier knowing Fry's jokes and smile will be absent.

State Police listed Fry's car on national computers, and if any law enforcement agency encounters the car, they are to notify Indiana investigators.

The car's identification number has never surfaced on any salvage title or wreck.

State Police 1st Sgt. William Vann is at least the third detective to have Fry's "missing persons" case.

The original detective, Sgt. Ron Bruce, now retired, declined to discuss details of the case. He said it bothers him to this day that the mystery has not been solved.

Vann said investigators have a theory about what happened to Fry but declined to reveal the circumstances leading to the conclusion.

Fry's family continues to search for answers.

Brookley Louks, 19, was last seen June 24 as she made a police report about a burglary at her father's apartment to Greenwood investigators. Her car was found a few days later on a restaurant's parking lot at Ind. 37 and Ind. 144.

A $5,000 reward for information in the Louks case was announced Tuesday in Greenwood. The money comes from the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation. Carole and Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso were the three young women who were missing and later found murdered near Yosemite National Park in February 1999.

Investigators speculate Louks and Fry may have been killed and their bodies buried in watery graves. But it is only a theory, and thus far nothing has been uncovered supporting it.

Call Paul Bird at 1-317-865-4909.

Tip line

The family encourages anyone with information about Lola Katherine Fry to call 1-888-347-LOLA (347-5652).


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