STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A man has been arrested for the homicide of an 82-year-old Lake James woman.
After extensive investigative efforts and DNA analysis, the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department has arrested Matthew Hoover, 29, of Anderson for the death of Lake James resident Wilma Ball. The department said Hoover is a former neighbor of Ball.
Hoover was arrested on Wednesday just after 4:30 p.m. in Madison County, the department said. He was later transported back to Angola and booked in the Steuben County Jail on a preliminary charge of Murder.
He appeared in Steuben County court Thursday morning.
In June, the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department was sent to a lakefront home along the first basin of Lake James to conduct a death investigation after reports of an unresponsive female inside the home. When the police arrived they found Ball stabbed to death. The Steuben County Coroner ruled her death a homicide.
Police spoke with a neighbor, who said his brother – Hoover – may have been involved in Ball’s death, according to a probable cause affidavit. The man said Hoover had abruptly quit his job and moved out of his home the day before Ball was killed, then stole his parents’ truck and drove to Yorktown, the affidavit said. He then walked to Anderson, some 12 miles away, the man told police.
Police found Hoover at a home in rural Yorktown. He agreed to offer a DNA sample, and he spoke with investigators about Ball’s death.
Hoover denied ever being in Ball’s home and told investigators during an interview that he did not kill Ball, the affidavit said. Steuben County Prosecutor Jeremy Muss said that a detective testified in court, though, that Hoover admitted to stabbing Ball during an interview.
According to the affidavit, though, police found a beer can on a nightstand next to the bed Ball was found dead in. Testing found the can had Hoover’s DNA on it.
Neighbors told WANE 15 that Ball was a former home economics teacher, a mother with two children and two stepchildren. Neighbors also described her as loving, caring, active and athletic.
“These are tough cases and we don’t get many homicides in this county,” said Muss. “Our hearts are broken for the family of Wilma Ball.”
Hoover is currently in Steuben County Jail and remains held without bond. His next court hearing is Sept. 27, and he’s scheduled to stand trial Nov. 29.
Police said the investigation is still ongoing, with testing pending. Additional criminal charges may be sought.