Chicago Tribune


By Ronald Koziol.

September 20, 1989

Several current and past officers of a northwest Indiana laborers union local, whose secretary-treasurer was killed last week when a bomb exploded under his pickup truck, were being asked Tuesday to take lie-detector tests.

Merrillville Police Chief Jerry McCory said most of the union officials questioned after the murder of Joseph Bova have been cooperative. But he wants to "clear some things up with certain people" and that`s why he was asking for the polygraph examinations. "The tests we`re asking for should not indicate that we have a suspect in the murder," said McCory, who refused to be more specific.

Bova, 43, who was paid $20,000 a year as secretary-treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 81 in Valparaiso, was killed last Wednesday when a bomb detonated after he turned on the ignition in his truck. The blast threw Bova 50 feet from his truck, which had been locked and parked in front of his home for three days.

McCory said some of those who were asked to take the tests have refused. "But we still want to talk to them further," he said. McCory conceded that the lie-detector tests are not admissible in court but said they can serve as an investigative tool.

So far, much of the investigation by police and agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has centered on Bova`s union activities. He was part of a new slate of officers elected a year ago to head the local. For several years before that, Bova was actively involved in the local and had served as one of three auditors. Investigators in the U.S. Labor Department`s racketeering section in Chicago said numerous other areas of Bova`s life are also being examined.

One agent noted that Bova made only $20,000 a year in his union job and was not considered a top boss of the local, which has only 800 members working as laborers in the construction trades in northwest Indiana. In fact, at the time of the bombing, Bova was on his way to work a second job as a union steward at a steel company in Burns Harbor.

Chicago labor lawyer Bernard Mamet, who represents several northwest Indiana trade unions, discounted a union motive for the killing.

Information that could help to track down the exact type and source of the explosives used is expected to be available this week. Fragments of a sophisticated black powder pipe bomb, about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide, are being analyzed by federal bomb experts in Rockville, Md.

A $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bomber has been offered by the union.

Copyright 1998, The Tribune Company.

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