Indianapolis man headed to prison for 1989 cold case murder

Amy Weidner
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The man who confessed to killing a 16-year-old girl in 1989 is now on his way to prison.

It was a cold case until police linked evidence to the victim's family friend Rodney Denk.

When the mother of murder victim Amy Weidner addressed the court Friday morning, several of her relatives cried in court.

Amy Weidner died during a burglary at their Indianapolis home in 1989. The burglar stumbled across the 16-year-old and killed her so there would be no witnesses to his crime.

Weidner lived with her mother and her two-year-old daughter, who was home during the murder, but was unharmed. Prosecutors say Denk broke in to steal an Alpine graphic equalizer, but attacked Amy after she surprised him inside.

Investigators now say the bloody palm print left at the crime scene belongs to Rodney Denk. They also have matched up DNA to the 41-year-old.

The victim's family packed the courtroom to witness his plea agreement of 50 years for murder and 15 years for sexual assault.

The victim's mother says Denk was like family to them.

"He was at our house a lot. For 23 years, 7 months and 1 day, we believed a stranger had come into our home and not someone we knew and he was never a suspect ever," said Gloria Weidner.

Although Amy's mother showed Denk her photos in court, he remained emotionless. That was no surprise to IMPD Sgt. William Carter, who got involved when clues about the unsolved murder surfaced on Facebook.

"That is kind of the demeanor that I have always experienced when I interview him," Carter said.

Denk became even more of a suspect last year when investigators tried to talk to him and he refused, left town and ignored their phone calls. He even told Carter to meet him at his home to talk about the case, but when the officer arrived, he was nowhere to be found, which gave prosecutors even more suspicion.

"He quit work unexpectedly, rented a car and took off. It all added up," said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson.

Prosecutors say after 24 years this case also gives hope to other cold cases.