Police: Man charged in death of Illinois woman who vanished while driving acquaintance to Chicago

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ind. — Laura Wolfe-Orlovich was the type of person who would help out anyone in need.

Family and friends said Wolfe-Orlovich was doing just that in July, when she left her Marion, Illinois, home to drive an acquaintance to Chicago, where he said his son had been slain. The man, who she knew as “Snoop,” said he couldn’t drive himself because he was too distraught, and his license had been suspended.

Wolfe-Orlovich, 46, was never seen alive again.

Authorities in LaPorte County, Indiana, announced Tuesday that Lynn Ware Jr., has been charged with murder after human remains found in a Springfield Township cornfield in October were positively identified as belonging to the missing woman.

Ware, 39, of Martin, Tennessee, was being held in the LaPorte County Jail on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if Ware is the man who goes by the nickname “Snoop.”

Wolfe-Orlovich’s daughter, Amber Whitlock, told NBC’s Dateline in September that she spoke to her mother on the phone every day. Their last conversation was on July 15.

When Whitlock found her mother’s cellphone had been turned off a couple of days later, she began to worry.

“My mom’s phone is never off,” Whitlock said. “She always has it on. To play music, to play games. It’s her communication.

“So right away, something felt wrong. It was just alarming.”

Wolfe-Orlovich’s roommates were also concerned. The missing woman had left home on Wednesday, July 15 with Ware, and she promised she’d be home by Friday, NBC reported.

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The roommates heard from Wolfe-Orlovich the following day, at which point she said she was stranded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and needed a ride home.

“They were working on getting her a train or bus ticket home,” Whitlock told the news program. “And then she called them again early Friday morning and sounded even more desperate to get home.

“Both times the roommates heard a man yelling at her to get off the phone. That was the last time anyone spoke to her.”

Whitlock reported her mother missing July 19.

LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office officials said they became aware of the missing person report after it was learned that Wolfe-Orlovich had passed through that area. Some of Wolfe-Orlovich’s belongings were found Aug. 21 on Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District property in rural Springfield Township.

Springfield Township is about 50 miles east of the Chicago area and the route Ware and the missing woman likely were taking to the Windy City.

The sheriff’s office’s investigators began devoting more of its resources to help Marion police officials, the FBI and other state and local agencies search for Wolfe-Orlovich, authorities said. Those efforts included conducting a number of grid searches in Springfield Township.

Whitlock’s worst fears were realized on Oct. 28, when a farmer harvesting his corn stumbled upon human remains. The location of the body was outside of the area in which the original grid searches had been conducted the month before.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE CONDUCTING DEATH INVESTIGATION Yesterday (10/28/20) at 4:50 PM, Deputy Micah Hatley was dispatched to...

Posted by La Porte County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, October 29, 2020

“In December of 2020, the human remains were identified as being that of Wolfe,” LaPorte County officials said. “Upon evaluating the investigation and forensic results, the LaPorte County Coroner’s Office ruled the manner of Wolfe’s death as a homicide.”

Wolfe-Orlovich’s cause of death has not been released.

A warrant was issued Dec. 22 for Ware, who had been identified as a person of interest in the case. He was arrested on New Year’s Eve in O’Fallon, Illinois.

Whitlock told Dateline that her mother had big plans prior to her death. Wolfe-Orlovich was anticipating a move to Florida, where Whitlock and Wolfe-Orlovich’s mother, who has dementia, live. She planned to help care for her ailing mother.

Wolfe-Orlovich was also going to be a new grandmother.

“I’m 30 weeks pregnant,” Whitlock said in late September. “My mom is supposed to be here. To go through this with me. To help me be a good mom like her. She’s supposed to be here for my baby.”

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She described her mother as a friendly, giving and humorous woman who loved children. Ware’s story about his son dying would have “tugged on her heartstrings.”

“She’s never met a stranger,” Whitlock told the network. “It’s a blessing and a curse. Because that’s what I’m afraid got her into trouble.”

The grieving daughter, whose own baby daughter was born last month, posted a thank you note Tuesday on Facebook in which she thanked everyone who had searched for her mother, passed out missing person fliers, prayed for Wolfe-Orlovich’s safe return or shared her photos on social media.

“After a long 173 days, we now have some answers as we continue to learn more about what’s happened.,” Whitlock wrote on a page created after her mother went missing. “May those guilty receive the harshest punishment, and may justice be served.

“You deserved so much better, Momma.”