ELKHART — The former Elkhart police detective who was central in an investigation that led to the wrongful convictions of Keith Cooper and another man died this week in an apparent suicide, authorities said.

Steve Rezutko, 78, was found Tuesday afternoon at his home on Sturdy Oak Drive, just north of Elkhart, county coroner James Elliott said. 

Rezutko was an Elkhart police officer for more than 30 years, starting in 1969. He served in the Army for three years before joining the police department. On the police force, he rose to the rank of sergeant and then was named a detective. After resigning from the police department, Rezutko worked as a corrections officer at the St. Joseph County Jail. He retired last year.

Rezutko was the lead detective in a 1996 shooting that resulted in the convictions of Cooper and Christopher Parish. After the evidence in the case unraveled, Parish had his conviction overturned in court and got a $4.9 million settlement, and Cooper received a gubernatorial pardon based on innocence.

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