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Police: Relationship reason for possible connection of murders

Thursday, February 17, 2005

TERRE HAUTE (AP) - Police say a missing woman whose body was found in Vigo County knew murder victim and former Brazil resident Toni Dickison.

Dental records have confirmed a partially decomposed body found by workers in a creek is that of 48-year-old Cassie M. Harris, a Terre Haute woman missing since December. Police said Monday that Indiana Department of Corrections records enabled identification confirmation. State prison records show that Harris had been convicted by Vigo County courts in 1999 of drug possession and in 2002 for robbery.

Her body was found Wednesday near a plant owned by Novelis, a spinoff of aluminum processor Alcan. An autopsy showed the woman died about two months ago, but Vigo County Coroner Roland Kohr said the cause of death was unclear.

Investigators said that Harris' death might be connected with the death of Dickison, 18, of Terre Haute. Property owners discovered her body floating in their Brazil pond on Nov. 30, 2004. Police said the women had known each other.

"They knew each other, how well we don't know," Indiana State Police Sgt. Joe Watts told The Brazil Times Wednesday. "They ran in some of the same circles. They knew some of the same people."

He explained that while law enforcement officials do not believe there is any reason for Terre Haute residents to be alarmed, investigators from the ISP, Clay County Sheriff's Department, Vigo County Sheriff's Department and Terre Haute Police Department will review details of the possibly overlapping cases. Causes of death for the women have not been released to the public.

"All four agencies are working together on both cases," Watts said. "There are some similarities to the cases. They look similar to us."

CCSD Det. Mike Heaton and VCSD Det. John Silver were not available for comment, and inquiries to the THPD were rebuffed by an officer who refused to disclose any information aside from Harris's name, age and that her body was found somewhere in Vigo County.

Persons with information regarding either investigation may call the CCSD at 446-2535 or ISP toll-free at 1-800-742-0717.

Brandy Richmond of The Brazil Times contributed to this report.

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