One arrested in KFC killing
Police: Motive appears to be robbery at restaurant on U.S. 30
MERRILLVILLE | Officers suspect a 26-year-old man who worked at the Merrillville KFC killed the restaurant's assistant manager - a 61-year-old woman - Monday morning at the restaurant, police said.
Investigators believe robbery was "one of the motives" in the beating death of Maxine Urbanczyk, of Merrillville, said Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch.
No one witnessed the killing, but police have surveillance video from the store, Petruch said. The man was arrested without incident Monday, Petruch said, and was in the Lake County Jail on Monday night.
Petruch would not say Monday night whether the man confessed to the killing.
Urbanczyk was pronounced dead at 10:37 a.m. at the restaurant on U.S. 30 near Taft Street. Lake County coroner's investigators said she suffered multiple blunt force blows to the head. The coroner's office is scheduled to administer a complete forensic autopsy today.
Mourning the loss of his mother outside the restaurant Monday morning, Richard Urbanczyk Jr. said he had dropped her off for work about 8:30 a.m. He was told an hour later she was dead.
Petruch said officers responded to the scene about 9:30 a.m. after KFC employees found Urbanczyk on the floor of the restaurant office. The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force joined the investigation.
Petruch said there were no signs of forced entry into the business, and police have watched digital video from the restaurant that shows a single suspect entering and exiting the building, he said.
Petruch said the footage was valuable evidence.
"We have a quality tape," Petruch said.
Police said the suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash. Police said Monday afternoon they talked with current and former employees of the restaurant.
"We're talking to a lot of people," Merrillville police Operations Cmdr. Lance Huish said.
He said this is the first homicide in Merrillville since Naseeb Mohammed was killed at his business, Aladdin Pita, 3750 W. 80th Lane, in September 2006. Huish said the two homicides are not related.
Family members at the scene said Maxine Urbanczyk started working at KFC about five years ago after her husband, Richard Urbanczyk Sr., died.
She loved working at the restaurant, they said.
"When she worked, she gave it 110 percent," said Urbanczyk's daughter, Kathy Stein, who is a graphic designer in The Times advertising department.
Stein said her mother is survived by three children and seven grandchildren. She said her mother had a big heart and "would definitely give the shirt off her back."
"She always took care of us kids," Stein said.
Stein said her mother was looking forward to retiring in three years and enjoyed spending time with her family.
Anyone with more information on the case is asked to call the Merrillville Police Department at (219) 769-3531.
Times staff writer Dan Hinkel contributed to this report.
Date posted online: Tuesday, December 11, 2007
BY CHAS REILLY