Debra Wilson

Arrest made in Ossian Murder

December 12, 2006

Terry Lee Brabson, 47, of 906 Woodview Blvd., Fort Wayne, has been charged with murder in connection with the death of Debra S. Wilson, 45 ("Debbie"), of 610 Ingle Dr.

He was held at the Wells County Jail under $1.5 million bond. Brabson was scheduled for a 1 p.m. appearance today in Wells Circuit Court.

Wilson’s body was found by her daughter around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11 lying in a pool of blood in the bedroom of her Rose Ann Heights residence. The cause of death was later ruled by the Wells County Coroner as blunt force trauma to her head.

The investigation has revealed that Wilson was probably killed during the evening hours, Tuesday, Oct. 10, the day before she was discovered by her daughter.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed with the court, Ossian Police Chief David Rigney, the lead investigator in the case, and Wells County Sheriff’s Det. Lt. Diane Betz and Detective Scott Holliday, in the course of their investigation, determined that Wilson was involved in illegal narcotic activity. A man that Wilson is alleged to have been involved romantically with reportedly told the Chief that Wilson was a “heavy drug user” and had been known to bring people to her Rose Ann Heights residence whom she hardly knew for the purpose of abusing illegal narcotics.

Interviews with neighbors showed that Wilson had a visitor to her residence on Oct. 9 and 10—a man who was reportedly seen unloading a large potted chrysanthemum from Wilson’s vehicle the day before the murder. The same man was also reportedly seen leaving Wilson’s residence in a hurry the night of Oct. 10.

Wilson’s boyfriend reportedly advised Rigney that Wilson may have been using her credit card to purchase drugs. A check of Wilson’s credit records reportedly revealed she had made several large purchases on two credit cards. Several of the purchases were at stores in Fort Wayne on Oct. 9 and 10 and videotapes of the days’ transactions were obtained by Rigney and Betz.

In their review of the tapes, they reportedly saw Wilson in the company of a man and a woman. The man was reportedly wearing a green T-shirt. One of the items that was reportedly purchased was a large potted chrysanthemum

The night that the murder is believed to have taken place, a man was reportedly seen carrying a laundry basket in the Rose Ann heights Addition. The same man was reportedly seen exiting the addition and heading north on Ind. 1.

A basket matching the description of the one the man was reportedly seen carrying was later located in the dumpster outside of the Ossian Medical Center, which is located along Jefferson St. It reportedly contained a pillowcase matching the bed linens in Wilson’s bedroom. Inside the pillowcase was a torn piece of mail, drug paraphernalia—and a soaking wet green T-shirt, matching the T-shirt worn by the man seen with Wilson in the store videos.

The Indiana State Police lab in Fort Wayne later determined that blood allegedly found on the back of the T-shirt was a DNA match to Wilson.

Rigney and officer Stephanie Tucker, who was also instrumental in the investigation, received a call from two employees at Fort Wayne Wire & Die that a man had spoken to them at their workplace, reportedly stating he had been in a fight with his girlfriend and she had thrown him out. He then walked from Ossian all the way to Fort Wayne.

The man was reportedly carrying a carton of Marlboro cigarettes. A carton of Marlboros was reportedly one of the items purchased by Wilson using her credit card as shown in the store videos.

As the investigation widened, a Fort Wayne patrolman reportedly recognized the man with Wilson in the store videos as Brabson. The officer said he had attended high school with Brabson and had recently spoken with him. Other police officers also identified the woman with Wilson.

Both Brabson and the woman had been earlier arrested on unrelated charges. On the book-in sheet, Tucker noticed that one of the items that Brabson had in his possession was a 4-inch long knife. Wilson reportedly had several cuts on her that appeared to have been made by a knife. A search warrant was used to obtain the knife from property that Brabson allegedly left behind at a Fort Wayne woman’s residence where he had been staying after he had posted bond following his arrest.

Also obtained was a pair of shoes with a tread pattern similar to a tread pattern found at the crime scene.

Search warrants had been used to search Wilson’s residence the day the murder was discovered and again later in the course of the investigation. During the search, a used potato chip bag was reportedly found that later was allegedly discovered to contain a print belonging to Brabson.

As the investigation narrowed its focus on Brabson as a prime suspect, Rigney, Betz and Tucker interviewed three known associates of Wilson. Reportedly, all three stated that Brabson had been with Wilson at her residence Oct. 9 and 10 and had gone shopping with her.

All three allegedly admitted that Brabson had spoken to them about an incident he claimed to have been involved in with Wilson.

Reportedly Wilson told Brabson he would have to leave her house because she was expecting someone to come to the house. She allegedly gave Brabson $25 and some crack cocaine and told him that he would either have to get a cab or walk back to Fort Wayne.

Allegedly, Brabson smoked the crack and then began smoking some of his own personal stash of dope. At that point, Wilson is alleged to have become enraged and tried to get her $25 back.

The two allegedly fought and Brabson is alleged to have left the residence and walked back to Fort Wayne.

Rigney and Wells County Prosecutor Mike Lautzenheiser are both declining to make any statements about the investigation out of concern the impact that anything that they say could be used by Brabson’s defense to weaken the case. All information has been gleaned from the probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

Rigney did, however, thank all of the agencies that were involved with the investigation including the sheriff’s department and Wells County Sheriff Barry Story, the Bluffton Police Department—which provided a crime scene investigator for the case—the Indiana State Police, the Allen County Sheriff’s Department and the Fort Wayne Police Department Detective Bureau, Homicide Division and Neighborhood Response Team.

Late plea negates Wells murder trial
Admits to manslaughter in '06 death of Ossian woman; 30 years possible
As the attorneys were getting ready to pick a jury in his Wells County murder trial, a Fort Wayne man admitted his role in the 2006 death of an Ossian woman inside her home.

Terry L. Brabson, 48, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. While the charge is a Class A felony, it offers a slightly lighter prison sentence than Brabson would have faced if convicted of murder after the two-week trial.  Wells County Prosecutor Michael Lautzenheiser Sr. said he was relieved by the unexpected plea, which will likely bring a sentence of 30 years.

Had the state won the murder conviction, Brabson would have likely faced up to 50 years in prison; but had the jury settled on a lesser offense, such as a lower-level felony manslaughter charge, Brabson would have had a 10-year sentence, Lautzenheiser said.