Charges filed in 2-year-old case involving woman's body found in van

NAPPANEE — A Plymouth man allegedly left a woman’s body in a van two years ago after she died in his house in Nappanee.

Charges of maintaining a common nuisance and failing to report a body were filed against Thomas Slavey, 49, on Wednesday.

Nappanee investigators believe he moved Julie Sandoval’s body after her death around Valentine’s Day 2018. Her corpse was found about three days later in the back seat of a minivan that was parked at Westside Park in Nappanee, according to police in the case’s probable cause affidavit.

An autopsy concluded Sandoval’s manner of death was natural, due to complications from diabetes with a quantity of methamphetamine found in her blood as a contributing cause, the affidavit shows. An obituary for her in 2018 showed she was a 22-year-old Nappanee resident.

Investigators said in the affidavit that they learned Sandoval and several other people were at a house where Slavey resided, 779 Park Drive, on the day she died. Drugs, including heroin, meth and synthetic marijuana, were used throughout the day, the affidavit claims.

Witnesses told police Sandoval became ill in the house. But, as her condition became worse, nobody in the group apparently helped.

“Neither Slavey nor any of the individuals present believed her condition was their problem, and Sandoval was never provided any medical assistance,” police state in the affidavit.

After realizing Sandoval died, one witness told police, as a few members of the group left the house, Slavey was told to call an ambulance. A witness, who went back to the house a few days later, told police Slavey was “freaking out” in the attic over Sandoval’s death and because he parked her body in the van by the park, the affidavit claims. The house is about a half-mile from Westside Park, police estimated.

Another witness told police in January that Slavey asked for help moving Sandoval’s body but the witness refused.

The Level 6 felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance and the misdemeanor count of failing to report a body were filed in Elkhart County Superior Court 6.

A warrant for Slavey’s arrest was also issued.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at or 574-533-2151, ext. 240316. Follow her on Twitter at @aambrose_TGN.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at or 574-533-2151, ext. 240316. Follow her on Twitter at @aambrose_TGN.

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