A Call for Answers: Police still looking for witnesses in shooting of Brandon and Shae
SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- ABC57 has new information on the ongoing investigation into the shooting deaths of Brandon Smith and ShaeLeigh Zeiger.
The case went in front of a grand jury that decided not to bring charges against the shooter.
So, why are the police still investigating?
Abc57's Annie Kate digs deeper and helps answer that question for us tonight.
The central question in the case of Brandon and Shae is: are the shootings justifiable homicides or murder?
South Bend police detectives are still trying to figure that out, even with that grand jury ruling.
They need Michiana's help, witnesses to come forward, help close the case, and bring closure to a grieving mother.
"I feel dead inside, so hollow. I'm not me, just not me. It hurts so much because I live for my kids," said Belinda Holcomb.
December 19th, 2021 is a date she will never forget.
The day her son and his girlfriend were shot to death outside of Antonio's Bar near the corner of Franklin and Ewing Street in South Bend.
"It doesn't get easier, at times it gets worse because he doesn't have justice," Holcomb said.
Cell phone records from the night of the shooting, given to ABC57 by Holcomb, show 31-year-old Brandon Smith and 22-year-old Shaeleigh Zeiger were on the phone with one another for hours before they died.
The reason this case took so long to investigate is that detectives had to figure out if Brandon and Shae's shooter was defending themselves or committing murder.
The case eventually went to a grand jury in July 2022.
"The grand jury concluded that no criminal charges were appropriate to be filed," said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter.
Cotter says it's all because of self-defense law in the State of Indiana.
"You have a right to protect yourself, you have a right to protect others, by reasonable means necessary to make that protection occur," he said. "You can only use deadly force if you are in fear of serious bodily injury or death because of the actions of another person."
Because of the ruling, the case is at a standstill, which is frustrating for many involved.
"I talked with family at length afterward about it," Cotter said, "and I know they're frustrated, I completely understand that."
Two faces of this investigation are Police Captain Jason Biggs and Lieutenant Kayla Miller.
Lieutenant Miller is at the helm of Michiana Crime Stoppers while Captain Biggs is in charge of the South Bend Police Department Detective Bureau. ABC57's Annie Kate sat down with both of them because despite the grand jury ruling, the case remains open and, she wanted to know why.
"Now, a grand jury looks over all case facts and evidence," said Biggs. "They also look at any kind of claims that the accused would have to a defense. I.e. Like self-defense… who unfortunately did not indict in this situation."
But the case remains open, according to police, just pending new information.
"There is a potential that there were people that we never knew were there because they left before police got there. And those people could have new or different information that could shed a different light on the facts that we do have," Miller said. "We want the truth. We want the truth about what happened that night based on facts and evidence."
Facts and evidence.
That's where the police say they need Michiana's help. Investigators believe there are people who witnessed the deadly shooting, but they aren't talking. And they want those people to come forward.
"It's me and his dad. We are just a hot mess. I can't function. I'm not even back to work yet. My doctor says it's an excessive grieving disorder. Sleep? I don't sleep
Brandon's grieving mom wants those people to come forward too.
"Somebody saw something," Holcomb said.
Could a witness really be out there with the answers to what really happened to Brandon and Shae? Police seem to think so.
If you know anything about this case, you're encouraged to reach out to Michiana Crime Stoppers at (574) 288-stop. Your tips are anonymous.