INDIANAPOLIS — Court documents reveal 21-year-old Dai-Ghia “Dai Dai” Hogan was cold-bloodedly executed alongside Interstate 70, her body then left lying in the gravel until a state trooper spotted her early in the morning on March 1.
The coroner’s report revealed Hogan had been shot twice in the back of the head before her killer rolled her body over and fired a third round into the left side of her face. The first two shots came from a slightly downward angle, the coroner’s report said, meaning Hogan’s killer may have made her kneel before executing her alongside the interstate.
“Really just a senseless violent act, where we saw someone lose their life under circumstances no one should have to endure,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.
Hogan had been wearing a beanie, a pink jacket and Ugg boots when the trooper found her lying still in the gravel at approximately 7:23 a.m. near mile marker 93.3 in Marion County. There was blood splatter around her body, three bullet casings, and a glass pipe used to smoke crack cocaine.
Hogan had only recently turned 21 before her life came to a sudden, violent end. It isn’t the only tragedy her family has had to endure. Last May, Hogan’s older sister and her 2-week-old daughter were killed in a car crash.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office hopes to bring some comfort to the devastated family. On May 1, the prosecutor’s office announced Jason Rhea had been charged as the primary suspect in Hogan’s death. He faces one count of murder and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a violent felon.
Court documents reveal Hogan and Rhea had been spotted together on surveillance footage at a Motor 8 on N. Shadeland Avenue in Indianapolis. Family told police Hogan had been staying at Motor 8 on the last days of February. They also told investigators that it was one of her usual “hang out” spots and where Hogan would prostitute herself in order to obtain money to support her drug habit, according to the court documents.
“This particular victim is one of the most vulnerable people in our community and I think the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement needs to stand up and make sure are protecting those in our community who are the most vulnerable,” Mears said.
In surveillance footage, police watched Hogan leave in a silver Dodge Avenger registered to Rhea. Rhea, along with a woman whom investigators knew had an active warrant and a lengthy drug history, are all spotted entering the Dodge and leaving Motor 8 with Hogan roughly two hours prior to her body being found on I-70.
Looking into Rhea’s past, police discovered he had been listed as a witness to a recent murder at the Motor 8 that occurred on Jan. 26. Rhea previously lived in Arizona, investigators learned, and had served 10 years in that state for a violent offense.
Reviewing Rhea’s phone data, investigators are able to determine that after leaving Motor 8, Rhea drove southbound on Shadeland Avenue and turned eastbound onto I-70. The phone showed he remained in place at the 93 mile marker for six minutes before turning and heading back to Motor 8.
Surveillance footage shows Rhea and the other woman return to the Motor 8 at approximately 5:38 a.m. The woman is seen exiting the vehicle and going into a room. Rhea remained in the vehicle for a time before exiting and joining them in the motel room. Rhea then leaves the Motor 8 with four people. Hogan is never seen in the footage.
Police were able to trace Rhea and the other woman who had been in the car to a home on Adams Street. Police searched the home after obtaining a search warrant and found suspected drugs and a .380 semi-auto handgun, court records reveal.
The bullets loaded in the confiscated handgun matched the same bullets found within Hogan’s body, according to the report. The Indiana State Police lab later determined the gun was the firearm that fired the casings from the murder scene and the bullet fragments collect from Hogan’s autopsy. A DNA swab of the gun also linked the weapon to Rhea.
“This case relies on all sorts of forensic tools,” Mears said “We’re relying on cell phone records, we’re relying on video evidence, we’re relying on DNA evidence, we’re using forensic evidence from the handgun to really piece together this case.”
Police spoke to the woman who’d been staying with Rhea and who was spotted in the Dodge when Rhea drove Hogan to the spot of her murder. According to the documents, the woman told police she had considered Hogan to be like a daughter and that she’d been trying to help the 21-year-old because of the lifestyle she was living.
When police asked her about the morning of the murder, however, she only admitted to being in the car and then told police she had a seizure and fell asleep.
As for a motive, Mears said they have not been able to find one.
”Motive is the one thing we don’t really have a clear answer for,” Mears said.
Jason Rhea was arrested on April 15 by Indianapolis police and is currently in jail. If convicted of murder, Rhea faces between 45 and 65 years in prison.