Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How NASCAR helped solve cold case

   The following press release was distributed on Wednesday:

   NASCAR driver Kevin Conway learned this week that through his involvement with the ‘ExtenZe Local Hero’ race program, a four-year-old unsolved homicide hit-and-run case has finally been solved. The Joliet Police Department informed Conway and a member of his executive team at eXclaim Marketing via email the suspect in the Melissa Lech case that was featured on his No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports car for the September 17, 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway finally turned himself in this past Sunday, February 26.

   Authorities say that 27-year-old David McCarthy of Naperville showed up on the doorstep of Melissa Lech’s sister’s house on Sunday morning to finally come clean about the hit-and-run accident he caused that took Melissa’s life in August 2008. Lech’s sister also told authorities that McCarthy admitted to her that he would think about the night he hit Melissa every time the case was in the news with the most recent significant impact coming in September 2011 when Conway’s car featured Melissa’s photo and a plea for information in a nationally televised NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway.

   “We feel confident that the extensive media coverage in the Melissa Lech investigation helped bring this case to a successful conclusion,” said Chief Michael P. Trafton, Joliet Police Department. “The Joliet Police Department would like to give special thanks to NASCAR Driver Kevin Conway, eXclaim Marketing, and the NEMCO Motorsports racing team for keeping this case in the spotlight.”                       

   In 2010 Conway, through his company eXclaim Marketing, wanted to create a cause-marketing campaign tied back to his race program that would really give back to the communities and markets NASCAR races in. From support from ExtenZe the ‘Local Hero’ program was formed. At first the campaign paid tribute to people who had gone to great lengths to make a difference in their communities and those selected typically had faced danger, sacrificed their own safety for others or in some way displayed leadership that changed their community for the better.

    It was the September 2010 Kansas race where the program took a bit of a different turn and started featuring unsolved homicide or missing persons cases on the car’s rear decklid. In total the program has featured nine unsolved cases across Kansas, Martinsville, Fontana, Nashville, Daytona, Bristol, Chicago, and Homestead-Miami with the Melissa Lech case out of Chicago being the first one solved due to the efforts of Conway and eXclaim Marketing.

   For more on the story, read this.