Dominique Allen's death was a homicide resulting from asphyxiation, Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew ruled Tuesday. A man walking his dog found Allen's body in his backyard on the city's near northwest side Sunday, police said.
One of Allen's sisters, Shenika Poindexter, issued a stern warning to whoever was responsible during a news conference Tuesday at the site where Allen's body was found. A small makeshift wooden cross was placed next to scorch marks in the grass, and decorated with flowers and stuffed animals.
"I don't know why you had to do this. Whatever you do, wherever you go, justice is going to be served, in this life or the next. I don't care, they will hunt you until you die. ... She did not deserve this, she did not deserve this, she was 15 years old," Poindexter said between tears.
Poindexter said her sister wasn't the type to talk to strangers or get in a car with someone she didn't know. The victim had been staying with another sister, Mareeka Allen, and was last seen on the sister's porch about 4 a.m. Sunday.
Mareeka Allen said the crime was a "careless random act," and a detective investigating the case agreed.
"At this time, we believe it was random," Indianapolis Metro Police Detective Marcus Kennedy said, adding that Dominique Allen was dead before her body was burned.
Detectives are combing registered sex offenders for possible leads and checking for reported runaways in case there are other victims.
Police discovered the teen's purse and shoes Tuesday about a block from where her body was found.
Kennedy distributed a photograph of Dominique Allen taken the last night she was alive. In it, she's smiling and wearing the sandals that were discovered Tuesday.
Her sisters said Allen, who attended Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center, wanted to be a model and to attend Spelman College in Atlanta.
Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, who lives a few blocks away from where the girl's body was found, comforted the family at the news conference.
"Pretty young lady, she had a future, and this evil person, or persons, destroyed her life," Williams said in an interview afterward.
Wayne Township school officials brought in counselors at the girl's school to help students and staff cope with Allen's death.