MUNSTER | A 25-year-old man found dead in his home Tuesday afternoon was disemboweled, police said, "All of his internal organs were outside the body," Munster Police Chief Nick Panich said of Wayne P. Smith, 7618 Manor Ave.
There were no signs of forced entry, indicating Smith let his killer into the home, Panich said.
There also was evidence of partying, Panich said. They were "having a good time with alcohol," he said Wednesday during a news conference.
The house had been ransacked "as if someone was looking for something," Panich said, but valuable electronics and cash remained inside.
Panich said Smith had affiliations with the Latin Kings street gang in Hammond, where he lived prior to moving to Munster.
Neighbors had complained of activity during all hours at the duplex, and police have not ruled out that drugs may have been involved, Panich said.
The Lake County coroner's office listed the cause of death as "internal trauma to the abdomen due to penetrating injury." The coroner's office declined to further describe the wounds.
A Suzuki motorcycle towed from the property following the slaying was reported as stolen to the Hammond police about a month ago, Panich said.
Court records show the Hammond Police Department filed a civil forfeiture case in Lake County court against Smith, Noe Hurtado, 26, and Joel Hurtado, 21, involving a Dec. 1, 2005, drug case. In that case, police seized less than $800, two digital scales and two scanners believed to be used in the possession of cocaine, the case file states.
Forfeiture cases are used by authorities to seize and keep property or cash believed to have been used in the commission of crimes.
Neither Smith nor Joel Hurtado were charged with dealing in that case. Noe Hurtado is scheduled to be sentenced in Lake County court on June 14 in a cocaine-dealing case filed in January 2006. Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said Noe Hurtado is listed in Hammond's gang database as being a Latin King.
Smith's body was found by a union friend who went to check on him about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police and coroner's officials then responded. The coroner's office said Smith was declared dead on the floor of his bedroom at 5:38 p.m.
Panich said Munster historically has had about one homicide every three years, but "that has increased slightly to about one every two years. It's still a very safe community. We don't believe this is a random killing."
The last homicide in Munster was the Feb. 13, 2004, beheading of 81-year-old Margaret Jansky.
Jansky's daughter, Margaret Church, 57, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, is serving a 55-year sentence for her mother's murder.