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Inmate's confession leads to charges in 2008 Henry County cold case

Posted at 4:30 PM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 16:30:56-04

NEW CASTLE, Ind. -- Nearly a decade after his murder, charges have been filed in the death of Michael Patterson after an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility confessed to the crime earlier this month.

The Henry County Prosecutor’s Office announced Thursday it had filed charges of murder and burglary against 51-year-old Dana R. Zirkel in connection with Patterson’s death at his home in Middletown on Aug. 18, 2008.

Police were called to the house in August 2008 when Patterson’s wife, Macarena Patterson, found him lying on the floor of their home with a life-threatening head wound. Patterson ultimately died of his injuries – which were determined to be caused by blunt force trauma.

Evidence led police quickly to Zirkel as a prime suspect, but investigators were never able to develop a solid enough case to charge him.

Without any other leads, the case went cold until April 13 of this year, when Zirkel notified authorities that he has something to say about the case.

MORE | Indiana Cold Cases: Can you help solve them?

According to a probable cause affidavit filed Thursday, Zirkel said “he could not have any peace in his life until he got this out.” What he wanted to get out was this: he had broken into the Patterson’s home intending to burglarize it, and when Mr. Patterson came home and caught him, he beat him repeatedly with a crowbar.

After fleeing the residence, Zirkel told police he threw the crowbar into a creek and wiped down his truck with paint thinner. He also burned his clothes.

A month after the murder, Zirkel was sentenced to prison, and has been incarcerated ever since. His earliest release date prior to Thursday’s charges was Feb. 7, 2022.

Zirkel could potentially face life imprisonment if convicted of Patterson’s murder. An initial hearing was scheduled in the case for Monday.

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