Did the woman who found Aleah Beckerle's body commit a crime by entering the house?

Did the woman who found Aleah Beckerle's body commit a crime by entering the house?
(WFIE)

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - A warning from city officials: do not enter abandoned houses.

Cathy Murray, the woman who found Aleah Beckerle's body, admitted to doing what's known as "abando-ing," going into what appears to be a vacant house looking for items to salvage.

Murray told police that's why she was at the South Bedford home where Aleah's body was found.

Many 14 News viewers continue to call the newsroom asking why Murray wasn't charged for going into that home.

In fact, many suggest that she was even rewarded for doing so.

We asked that question to Evansville police and they refused to answer on camera. But now, other city officials are making a plea to not do what she did.

"Stay out of abandoned houses," said Kelley Coures, the director of Metropolitan Development.

A simple but bold plea from the man who helps oversee the city's blighted properties.

"You could be looking for something valuable in a house like that and walk in at the wrong moment when something is going on," said Coures. "That's why we have to tear them down because they're scenes of criminal activity."

But it's that allure of finding something valuable at one of those houses that's drawing some inside.

"Many houses are full of, I don't want to say junk, but past owner's possessions," said Coures.

But Coures says it's a risky hobby because you might find more than you bargained for.

He says it's common for his crews to go into an abandoned house and find people living there, with no utilities or water, oftentimes participating in illegal activities.

"You find people making meth, you find illicit activity, drug deals, all kinds of stuff happen in those houses," said Coures. "That's why you want to stay out of them because you don't know what you'd walk into. Really, that's dangerous."

Over 100 abandoned, rundown homes were torn down in Evansville last year.

Another 130 are set to be demolished by the end of this year, including the house on South Bedford where Aleah Beckerle's body was found by Murray, who was inside the house looking for items to salvage.

"I wouldn't go in one if you paid me money," said Coures. "It's absolutely against the law.  It's trespassing and it's burglary. It's breaking and entering."

Again, Evansville police would not answer our questions on camera about this trend of people going into those homes and they didn't want to discuss Murray.

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