Debra Furnish

Police Identify Slain Woman Found Nude Beneath Overpass

Family Members Confirm Victim's Identity

POSTED: 6:35 am EST December 28, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- The identity of a woman whose nude body was found tossed over a chain link fence and into a gutter beneath an Interstate 65 overpass Thursday morning has been released.

Indianapolis Metro police said the family of Debra Furnish, 48, identified her at the Marion County Coroner's Office late Thursday.

An autopsy Friday determined that Furnish was a homicide victim, but further information was not immediately released.

Police did not release details of what led them to be able to identify Furnish, who lived downtown, near where her body was found.  Furnish's body had been thrown over a three-foot chain link fence at 12th Street and Central Avenue.

Two men found the body at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday and notified a man who lives nearby.  "Some black people stopped me and said that there is a nude, white female under the underpass," the caller told a 911 dispatcher.  The body was lying next to a sidewalk that runs along Central Avenue.

"As soon as we get her identified, that will help us a lot more with talking to people that may know her," IMPD Detective Bob Flack said Thursday.

Police ran the woman's fingerprints and determined that she did not have a criminal history in Marion County.

Authorities released two pictures of tattoos on the woman's body in hopes that someone would recognize them.  Investigators said early Thursday that they think the woman died elsewhere and that her body was dumped beneath the underpass.

According to IMPD, dark tire tracks were evident on the sidewalk near where the body was found, but they were not sure if that discovery was relevant to the case.  Police said they found no apparent signs of trauma before they removed the body.

Traffic was blocked at the underpass for several hours as investigators scoured the scene in search of clues. Residents said the body's discovery worries them about what is going on in the neighborhood.

"This is big time for something down here," said Dan Conn. "It's a relatively nice neighborhood, but things happen everywhere."


Indianapolis - Police have arrested a suspect for the murder of a woman found naked under a downtown overpass.

34-year-old Derek Martin was arrested Saturday on charges of murder and confinement in the death of a 48-year-old Debra Furnish. Her body was discovered Thursday under I-65 near 12th Street and Central Avenue. Investigators say he has a prior murder conviction.

Around 8:30 Thursday morning, a 911 operator received a call about a discovery made under the interstate overpass. The caller told the operator that two people had come to his door told him "there was a nude, white female under the overpass."

The body was found inside a fenced area below I-65. A neighbor, the one who phoned it in, called it "kind of shocking, but things happen."

"We don't have a cause or a manner of death or anything right now, but circumstances indicate it was probably not a natural death," said IMPD Sergeant Paul Thompson.

Another neighbor near 12th and Central said "I thought it was just terrible."

The naked victim probably died somewhere else. Police found no clothes at the scene. They did release photos of an eagle tattoo found on on the back of her shoulder, on the left side. There was also a second tattoo, a "tribal band" found on her upper right arm.

The information on the tattoos was released in hopes that someone might be able to identify the body. Shortly before midnight, IMPD issued a release saying the body had been identified. They say Ms. Furnish lived in the downtown area not far from where her body was found.

Just feet from where they found the body police found something else, possibly an important piece of evidence. Crime Lab technicians lifted impressions of heavy duty truck tires from the sidewalk. The truck that made them has double wheels on each side of the rear axle. Now they want to know if the truck jumped the curb to off-load the body.

"I've been here seven years and I've never seen anything as devastating as that," one neighbor told Eyewitness News.

The Old Northside Neighborhood is seeing a renaissance. Urban decay, evident less than ten years ago, has given way to restored, historic homes, well tended yards, and folks who walk their sidewalks and watch out for their neighbors.

"It's sad what happened to her, but I think our neighborhood is pretty safe," said one neighbor.

Another said "it's sad to see, especially at this time of year, that happen to someone. It's a relatively safe neighborhood. It's changed through the years but it's a fairly nice neighborhood now."

Jamie Barker

Woman Found Fatally Stabbed; Husband Arrested

Man Found Day After Wife Slain

POSTED: 10:55 pm EST December 22, 2007

GREENWOOD, Ind. -- Police said a Greenwood man suspected of killing his wife was taken into custody Sunday afternoon.

Jamie Barker, 31, was found fatally stabbed in her apartment in the Trotter's Point complex on Saturday afternoon.

Bartholomew County police found Barker's husband, Johnny Barker, 32, just after 1 p.m. Sunday.

Police said they believe the couple was involved in a domestic dispute before the stabbing.

The fatal stabbing marked Greenwood's first homicide in 2007.

Jennifer Miller

2 Found Dead In Apparent Homicide-Suicide

Passerby Found Man Dead In Car

POSTED: 6:18 pm EST December 8, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- Two people were found dead in an apparent homicide-suicide on Indianapolis' east side late Saturday afternoon after a passerby noticed a car parked in front of a home with someone inside for two days.

Police were called to the home in the 5100 block of East Tabor Street at about 4:30 p.m. after the passerby went to the car and found that the man inside was dead and that a gun was with him.

Officers said it appeared that the man inside, identified as Scott Clark, 48, of Indianapolis, had shot himself. When they went in the house, they found Jennifer Miller, 18, of Indianapolis, dead in a bedroom.

"There's a good possibility it happened yesterday," said Indianapolis Metro police Sgt. Paul Thompson. "The preliminary information was the car was in the same position yesterday or yesterday evening, so we're still working on those details."

A neighbor told 6News that lights inside the home had been on for two days and that the man had lived in the home for about two months.

Jessica H. Roberts

Fountain County Woman Shot by Live-in Boyfriend

Jessica H. Roberts, 36, was shot in head by live-in boyfriend, Arthur B. Manns Jr. The incident happened December 15, 2007. I couldn't find any additional information other than Arthur Manns was previously in prison in Indiana for possession of a controlled substance twice (1993-1999 from Lake County and 2000-2004 from Fountain County). No other information was found on him within the Indiana Corrections System.  If anyone could provide any further information, it would be greatly appreciated.

Eternity Brame

Eternity Brame

Appeals Court Affirms Sentence for Gary Baby Puncher

January 11, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday refused to adjust the 35-year prison sentence for a Gary man who punched an infant while walking along Fifth Avenue in Gary, causing her death.

Christopher K. Washington, 21, pleaded guilty in September 2009 to felony battery in connection with the death of 5-month-old Eternity Brame.

According to court and police records, Washington was walking with his girlfriend's children, ages 5 and 6, and Brame, the daughter of Washington's girlfriend's sister, along Fifth Avenue toward Fillmore Street on Oct. 4, 2007, when Washington punched Brame several times.

Upon reaching Brame's aunt's home, Washington put Brame in a bed and didn't tell anyone what happened, according to court records. An autopsy showed the child died of a lacerated heart and liver, and a depressed skull fracture from several blows to her head, chest and back.

At the time of the incident, Washington was 18 years old and just three months out of the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center.

Washington asked the appeals court for a reduced sentence claiming the 35-year term was inappropriate in light of his character and nature of the crime.

In a 3-0 decision, the Court of Appeals emphatically rejected Washington's request, pointing out that he received less time than the 50-year maximum sentence and agreeing with the trial court that Washington's actions were "brutal."

"Washington struck a defenseless infant with his fist several times, causing her death, in the presence of other young children," Senior Judge John Sharpnack wrote.

The court said Washington's juvenile record, including crimes equal to robbery and intimidation for an adult, history of substance abuse and repeated probation violations, also weighed against a sentence reduction.


BABY ETERNITY UNIQUE BRAME Gary, Indiana Age 4 months, passed away on Wednesday, October 4, 2007. Eternity was born May 7, 2007, in Gary, Indiana. She was a well loved daughter of Kortisha R. Spencer & Eugene J. Brame. She departed from many family members, mother, Kortisha Spencer; father, Eugene Brame; brother, Eugene Brame Jr.; sister, Tyaisha Brame; great-grandmother, Louise Johnson; grandparents, Linda (Larry) McJefferson, Janice Brame, Ronald Overton, James Bobo; 5 aunts, Rose Bobo, Tiffany Spencer, PaTrisha Brame, Jamie Kimbrough, Jermil Kimbrough; 5 uncles, Jermaine Kimbrough, Antione Brame, Dewon (Kim-berly) Brame, William Lewis, and Louis Spencer; godmother/ cousin, Mozell Quarles; and all her loving cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, other relatives and friends who reside in Gary, IN, and many different cities. Visitation Sunday, October 14, 2007, from 12 noon to 8:00 p.m. with family hour from 6 - 8:00 p.m. at the Guy & Allen Chapel, 2959 W. 11th Ave. Funeral service Monday, October 15, 2007, at 2:00 p.m. at Old Path COGIC, 2117 McKinley Street. Pastor Lynnell Walters officiating. Interment Oak Hill Cemetery. Professional services rendered by: Guy & Allen Funeral Directors, Inc. Published in Post-Tribune on October 14, 2007

Eva B. Groves

Man Sentenced in "Granny" Stabbing

Published : Wednesday, 03 Jun 2009, 4:29 PM EDT

NEW CASTLE, Ind. (AP) -- - A central Indiana man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for stabbing his grandmother to death.

36-year-old Gregory Lee Galloway had been found guilty but mentally ill of murder in the October 2007 death of 84-year-old Eva B. "Granny" Groves in the mobile home they shared in Hillsboro, about 40 miles east of Indianapolis.

Henry Circuit Judge Mary Willis sentenced Galloway on Tuesday and noted his long history of mental problems.

Family members said they had repeatedly sought treatment for Galloway, who was diagnosed with disorders related to schizophrenia.

Susan Moulder

Susan Moulder

Carmel police puzzled over apparent murder-suicide

October 7, 2007

Carmel - Police are puzzled by an apparent murder-suicide involving a couple who were about to get married. There were no signs of violence or any other warnings to indicate trouble with the relationship.

A graduate of Purdue University and Carmel High School, 29-year-old Susan Moulder lived to travel and loved music. She posted her interests on her MySpace and Facebook pages. There are also messages on those pages of congratulations for her recent engagement, as well as pictures of Moulder and her fiance, 36-year-old Jason Broadwater.

The two lived together in a Carmel home for the past three months. They died there together. Police found their bodies Friday. Investigators say it was Broadwater who pulled the trigger in an apparent murder-suicide.

The case comes as a surprise to police, who say they've never been called to the home before for domestic problems. Police say the two attended neighborhood functions and were well liked.

Broadwater was a nuclear technician for the Care Group at the Heart Center. His family declined to talk, but wrote in his obituary that he "cherished patient care."

Moulder offered no indication of problems or second thoughts on her MySpace site, only excitement over their impending nuptials. Her last entry, dated October 2, three days before her death, simply states, "Engaged!"

Police say they found two guns in the home, including one located next to Broadwater.

Toxicology tests will be conducted, but investigators may never know why the lives of a couple with such a promising future came to such a tragic end.

April Jones

Murder victims remembered at Jeffersonville vigil

October 4, 2007


April Jones went out to Priya’s Bar and Grill Friday night to enjoy time with her brothers. Hours later, she and her 25-year-old brother were murdered just steps from the police station, and the other sibling nearly killed.

About 50 people showed up to the Jeffersonville restaurant’s parking lot Wednesday night to remember Jones, 21, her brother Dyjuan Latendresse, 25, and the continued recovery of Johnathan Jones Jr., 17, who is at University Hospital in Louisville after sustaining four gunshot wounds.

Latendresse and Derek Lawson, 25, got into an argument inside the Quartermaster Court bar early Saturday, according to Clark County Superior Court No. 1 documents. The altercation moved outside and got physical. April Jones tried to stop Lawson, a former friend of Latendresse’s, from shooting her siblings. Lawson allegedly shot Jones to death, then shot Latendresse and Johnathan Jones Jr. as they tried to run away, records say.

Louisville activist Christopher 2X led the Wednesday night vigil, which featured prayer, music, testimonies from other families of murder victims and calls for people not to take their pain out on themselves or others.

Christopher 2X — who has worked to comfort more than 100 families of homicide victims in the Louisville area — was also the person Lawson called when he wanted to turn himself in to Jeffersonville police.

Before accompanying Lawson to Jeffersonville, he notified the victims’ families to assure them this act did not lessen his support toward them.

“You can’t put together a textbook to stop violent crime,” Christopher 2X said at the service.

Christopher 2X, along with April and Johnathan Jones’ father, John, said they felt sorry for Lawson’s family. Lawson — who is being held with no bond on two counts of murder and one attempted murder charge — could go to prison for 110 to 180 years if convicted.

Lawson and Latendresse grew up as friends, but had a series of altercations with each other and run-ins with the law over the years, according to court records. Despite any of Latendresse’s flaws, violent crime was not the answer, John Jones said.

“He had a heart just like everybody else has a heart,” Jones said. “I’m still in shock.”

Jones was involved in Latendresse’s life since he was a toddler, and said he was blessed to have spoken to him as well as his own daughter hours before they died. Latendresse called Jones “Pops” in a phone conversation, and Jones said everyone was excited to go out for “open mic” night at Priya’s.

“The killing has got to stop,” Jones told the crowd. “I appreciate you all’s support.”

After the service, Jones remembered his daughter as a driven young woman who was working toward becoming a nurse and left behind a 1-year-old daughter.

They just came here to have a good time,” Jones said.

As for Lawson, Jones said he did not know enough about the reported conflicts to comment, but did add he felt “sorry” for him.

“He took two lives, one the precious innocent life of my daughter,” Jones said.

Funeral services are expected to be held Friday for both victims.

See post for dear brother Dyjuan Latendresse here.

Dyjuan Latendresse

Lawson nets 80 years for double murder in Jeffersonville

Families pack court amid controversy over plea

December 4, 2008


The Jeffersonville man who pleaded guilty to killing two siblings outside Priya’s Bar and Grill in Jeffersonville was sentenced to 80 years in the Indiana Department of Correction on Wednesday.

Derek Lawson, 26, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of attempted murder, all class A felonies, for the shooting deaths of Dyjuan Latendresse, 25, and April Jones, 21, and for trying to kill their younger brother, 17-year-old Jonathan Jones Jr. in September 2007.

Clark County Superior Court No. 1 Judge Vicki Carmichael had the option of choosing a sentence ranging from 20 years to 80 years in prison under the terms of the plea agreement.

Carmichael said in court that anything less than 80 years, as recommended by the state, would “diminish” the crimes.

Lawson received 20 years for the death of Latendresse and 30 years each for the death of April Jones and shooting of Jonathan Jones Jr. Each sentence will run consecutively.

Linda Jones, the mother of the three victims, testified that following the shooting was the “most devastating time of my life.” The mother of Latendresse’s two children also testified and asked the judge to consider the effect on her children growing up without a father.

Jonathan Jones Jr., now 18, burst into tears just before he was called to testify. Jones was shot five times during the same incident. He appears to have physically recovered, but said he missed most of his senior year of high school while healing.

“This is something I’ve got to live with the rest of my life,” he said. “Just because you fear someone don’t give you the right to kill them.”

At the hearing, Lawson’s mother, Mary Lawson, described her son and Latendresse as childhood friends. But she said a rift began to grow between the two of them after they suspected Latendresse of searching through their dresser drawers when the two were in high school.

She claims that in 2003, Latendresse stole Lawson’s gun and cell phone and then later shot him twice in the buttocks.

“He almost lost his life that day. My son almost lost his life that day,” Mary Lawson said.

The defense also argued that Latendresse and others broke into Lawson’s house in 2006 and tied him up and kicked him and shot another person in the house. Lawson’s mother claims her son became terrified to even go in Jeffersonville, the city where he grew up.

The defense also claimed that Lawson’s parent’s house was shot about 18 times for “revenge” following the fatal shooting.

“He feared Dyjuan Latendresse, and he had a reason to fear him,” Lawson’s mother said.

Derek Lawson apologized in court to the Jones family and his family and said he was “sincerely sorry” for what happened.

Patrick Renn, Lawson’s attorney, asked for 20 years in prison, which was the minimum sentence allowed.

He argued that the shooting was a “single criminal episode that occurred at one time” rather than serial shootings.

Deputy Prosecutor Bill Grimes argued that Lawson may have had a feud with Latendresse, but that “two innocent” victims also were shot.

Renn found fault with the judge’s decision to include Lawson’s previous arrests as aggravating factors. He said that since Lawson has not been convicted of any other charge, those arrests should not be considered. He also argued the fact that there was a “long-running feud” and Lawson was scared for his life supported a lighter sentence.

“I’m satisfied [about] what happened,” the victims’ mother said after the hearing.

Not everyone in the family was appeased, though.

Jonathan Jones said after the hearing that he still did not agree with the manslaughter charge and said the shooting was not done in “sudden heat.”

“All it was hate and envy,” he said. “Ain’t nothing going to change what happened.”

On Monday, the family held a press conference with several Louisville media outlets in the office of Louisville civil rights activist Christopher 2X. The family told the media that they opposed any plea agreement and wanted the case to go to trial.

Between Lawson’s family and the victims’ family, there were at least 50 people who came to the hearing. At least a dozen security officers were called to the courtroom area to make sure there were no problems.

Grimes addressed the audience in the courtroom when speaking about the importance of the fact that Lawson cannot appeal his conviction under the terms of the plea agreement. The sentence can be appealed.

“Eighty years is a long time,” Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said after the hearing. “This will ensure he spends virtually the rest of his life in prison.”

With Indiana’s good-time credit rule, Lawson could serve less than 40 years. He also received credit for nearly a year and a half that he has already spent in prison.

Mull said he was “disappointed” that the family chose to hold the press conference. He said the family was contacted after the plea agreement had already been filed because both sides only had a “small window of opportunity” to file it.

Lawson did not plead guilty until the first day of his trial after the jury had already been seated. Lawson originally faced two counts of murder.

After the sentence was read, Lawson told the judge he intends to appeal the sentence. Renn said they may file a motion to correct error in Superior Court No. 1 within the next 30 days, based on his argument that Lawson’s arrests should not have been counted as an aggravating factor. They also could go directly to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

See post for dear sister April Jones here.

Lorraine Cooper

Man Shot Wife, Self

September 28, 2007

AUSTIN — An autopsy performed Thursday morning on the two bodies found in a residence in Austin early Wednesday evening showed the deaths are a result of a murder-suicide.

The Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office identified the bodies as those of Boyd Cooper, 52, and Lorraine Cooper, 50.

"They were husband and wife and lived at the 924 Pennsylvania Ave. address in Austin where their bodies were located," Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police said in a news release.

"The Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office came to the conclusion that both Boyd and Lorraine Cooper died of gunshot wounds," Goodin added. "It is believed that they had been inside the home for approximately one to two weeks before they were found."

Indiana State Police detectives said they believe Boyd Cooper shot and killed Lorraine Cooper and then turned the gun on himself.

Officers from the Austin Police Department responded to to the Coopers’ home in reference to a welfare check at the residence around 5:26 p.m. Wednesday. They found the the bodies after forcing their way in to the home.

Amanda Brinker

Amanda Brinker

Brinker, 14, Died of Blows to Back of Head

Police still don’t know motive for attack

September 22, 2007

The Madison County Coroner’s Office has officially ruled the death of 14-year-old Amanda Brinker a homicide, and the lead detective in the case said the girl was struck multiple times in the back of the head with a vehicle’s jack handle.

The Madison Count Prosecutor’s Office has asked for an extra three days to file a formal murder charge against Jesse Lee Pitts, 20, of Anderson.

Pitts, who is being held in the Madison County Jail without bond, made an initial court appearance on Friday, where Madison County Magistrate Stephen Clase read the allegations police laid out in a probable cause affidavit against him.

“Do you understand how serious this is?” Clase asked Pitts, who was dressed in a black-and-white jail jumpsuit.

“Yes,” he replied.

Pitts was soft-spoken during the brief court hearing, answering Clase in single-syllable words with his hands resting on his lap. Clase gave the prosecutor’s office until Wednesday to file the formal murder count.

According to court documents and investigators, officers received a 911 call, purportedly from Pitts, saying he had found a body floating face down in the White River at Edgewater Park off 10th Street. Along the riverbank, police found Brinker’s body, which bore severe injuries to the back of the head. Detectives found her purse and Anderson High School identification card inside a trash barrel nearby. There was blood splatter on the nearby grass and leaves along the walkway next to the river.

Detectives became suspicious of the 911 call because the body had been covered and wouldn’t have easily been seen by passers-by, police said Thursday. Investigators got a search warrant for Pitts’ home in the 1600 block of Southwood Road and found a bloody shirt inside a plastic trash bag. In a car Pitts borrowed from a roommate, they found the jack handle with hair and hair follicles on it, according to court documents.

One of Pitts’ roommates, Jennifer Lawler, told investigators that Brinker, of the 2900 block of Helms Road, called Pitts before school Thursday. Pitts borrowed Lawler’s 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier and picked Brinker up at her bus stop, several AHS students told detectives.

Pitts told detectives during questioning that he and Brinker drove to Edgewater Park. The two were walking down one of the park’s paved trails smoking marijuana when Pitts hit Brinker in the back of the head with the jack handle that he carries in his car “for protection,” according to the affidavit. Pitts said he threw Amanda down from the top of a White River riverbank, and she must have then rolled partially into the river.

Detective Terry Sollars, the lead investigator in the case, said Friday that police interviewed Pitts several times Thursday over a 7-9-hour period. He said Pitts struck Brinker multiple times in the back of the head.

Sollars said that after killing Brinker, Pitts drove back to his Southwood home and told his live-in girlfriend, 20-year-old Barbara Howard, that Brinker was hurt. The couple then went back to the park for a short period of time and returned home, where Pitts called 911.

Pitts gave investigators several different accounts of what happened, Sollars said. At one point, Pitts claimed a stranger came up behind him and Brinker as they were walking and attacked them. Pitts fled, but he saw the stranger knock Brinker to the ground.

Ultimately, however, he admitted what happened, Sollars said, but still hasn’t been completely forthcoming.

“He cooperated to his degree, but not to ours,” the detective said.

Sollars said Howard could also face charges for not being fully cooperative with investigators, but that is still under investigation. When police questioned Pitts and Howard, it “brought more questions than answers (as) to how they actually located the body,” according to Sollars’ affidavit.

“I don’t think she understood the impact until she saw the body by the river herself,” Sollars said Friday.

He said Pitts still has not told investigators why he killed Brinker.

“Robbery certainly wouldn’t have been a motive, because she only would have had a few dollars for lunch or something,” he said.

Sollars said Pitts and Brinker met through mutual friends and had known each other “a few months.” He said the exact nature of the relationship wasn’t immediately known, but it was apparently strong enough that Brinker could call Pitts up early in the morning, and he would get out of bed to meet her.

“I don’t know what that means,” Sollars said.

Attempts to reach Brinker’s family were unsuccessful on Friday.

A man who identified himself as “James” during a phone call to Pitts’ residence said Howard didn’t want to talk and told a Herald Bulletin reporter to “lose this (phone) number.”

Marva Diana Rhea Strasser

Man gets 20 years in slaying

Boyfriend pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for strangling former Logansport woman

September 12, 2007

MUNCIE — Justin D. Suits got the maximum 20 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter Monday for killing the mother of their child with his bare hands just before Christmas.

“This was not premeditated murder,” said Prosecutor Mark McKinney, saying that the facts in the killing of Marva Diana Rhea, Suits’ girlfriend, did not support a murder charge.

McKinney said he was still bothered by the killing, which was pleaded down by prosecutors and defense attorneys from murder, a class A felony, to voluntary manslaughter, a class B felony. The couple’s son, Jackson, was in the next room of the Selma couple’s home when Rhea was killed.

Delaware County Circuit Court 3 Judge Robert Barnet Jr. sentenced the 28-year-old Suits on the lesser charge, giving him the maximum prison time of 20 years.

“Why did it happen?” Barnet asked Suits, who was handcuffed and wearing an orange jail uniform.

Suits responded, “When Marva would lose control, it was a lot more extreme. Our son was put in danger and I reacted wrongly.”

Defense attorney Jack Quirk had portrayed a stormy relationship between the couple, explaining how Suits had attempted suicide after killing Rhea, and how the defendant suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress.

McKinney countered that Suits did not seem to remember that he told his brother and a welfare case worker that Rhea was leaving him with their son.

Given that the plea agreement made a trial unnecessary, “We are never going to get the entire truth,” McKinney said.

There was plenty of emotion from family members who testified in behalf of Rhea and Suits.

Don and Sharon Strasser, who adopted Rhea, wanted Barnet to reject the plea agreement and make Suits stand trial for killing their daughter.

Rhea had been in a children’s home in Logansport, and went from foster home to foster home until the Strassers came into her life.

“She was always stand-offish and did not trust anybody,” Don Strasser said.

His wife said Rhea opened up only when they expressed their unconditional love for her.

Rhea moved to Muncie, attended Ball State University and was a licensed beautician before meeting Suits at a local bar. The couple had split up until Suits learned Rhea was pregnant, and rekindled their relationship.

Sharon Strasser said she hoped that Suits would provide the family life that Rhea never had. They had been planning for Christmas when they were devastated by the news that Rhea had been killed and Suits was the suspect.

“We spent our Christmas planning a funeral,” Strasser said.

Suits’ mother, Sally Suits, said there were many versions of what happened and that she encouraged the couple to seek counseling for their psychological problems.

“It was not about broken records,” said Suits’ mother. “It was about temporarily broken souls.”

Suits’ parents, both teachers at Liberty-Perry schools, along with his brother, Vincent, hugged the defendant and kissed him as he was returned to jail, awaiting prison.

McKinney said the case was the most difficult he had faced, adding it was not easy to accept the plea agreement. Quirk said the evidence pointed to voluntary manslaughter.

“There was a lot of emotion,” he said.


Strasser, Marva Diana Rhea

Services for Marva Diana Rhea Strasser, 26, Selma, will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in Gundrum Funeral Home
She died at 9:05 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, 2006, in her residence.

Born April 19, 1980, in Whittier, Calif., she was the daughter of Don and Sharon Smith Strasser.

Marva attended Knox High School and was a 1998 graduate of Logansport High School. While in high school, she enjoyed being on the swim team and being a cheerleader.

Marva was a self-employed beautician.

She was an avid reader and attended the Farmland Friends Church of Selma.

She enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, especially her son, Jackson.

Surviving are one son, Jackson David Suits, Selma; parents, Don and Sharon Strasser, Logansport; and grandmother, Margaret Flowers, Logansport.

The Revs. Jim Abbott and Chris Sorensen will officiate at the services. Burial will be in Davis Cemetery, Burnettsville.

Friends may call from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the funeral home.

Erin Stanley

Erin Stanley

911 Tape Of First Of 2 Sister Deaths Released

Mother Told Dispatcher Teen Had Not Been Ill

September 17, 2007

RICHMOND, Ind. -- The first of two teenage sisters who died within days of each other was found by her boyfriend and was unresponsive and laboring to breathe, the women's mother told a 911 dispatcher.

Erin Stanley, 19, died after being found unresponsive in her parents' home Sept. 1, and her 18-year-old sister, Kelly, was found dead in the same Centerville home six days later.

Little information has been released on the deaths, though the death of Erin Stanley has been ruled a homicide by Wayne County officials.

Lonny Stanley called 911 at 5:15 a.m. Sept. 1, seeking help for her daughter Erin Stanley, according to a recording of the conversation that lasted about eight minutes.

"My daughter, she's unresponsive, her eyes are halfway open, she's blue," the mother told the 911 operator in flat, calm tones.

When asked whether the teen was breathing, she responded, "She's trying." She also told the dispatcher that the teen had not been ill, but that they'd had a stressful day.

Erin Stanley died that day. She was the mother of a young girl.

The 911 recording was released Monday by the Wayne County prosecutor's office, which had withheld the information for two weeks, saying the tape was part of the investigation. County attorney Ron Cross said the Sept. 7 emergency call in the death of Kelly Stanley was not recorded because of an equipment failure at the 911 dispatch center.

Kelly Stanley had helped detectives in their investigation into her sister's death. That included helping them gain access "to various computer sites," according to an affidavit for a search warrant for her parents' home issued Sept. 7.

Police found Kelly Stanley's body Sept. 7 after being called to her parents' home in Centerville, a town of some 2,500 people about 60 miles east of Indianapolis. A cell phone was found ringing and beeping lying near her hand, the document said.

The document said that both deaths appeared to have been caused by "similar action on the part of another party." Neither young woman had any apparent medical conditions that would have caused a sudden death, the document said.

A coroner has ruled the older woman's death a homicide, but authorities have revealed nothing about how she was slain or who might have killed her. An autopsy on Kelly Stanley was inconclusive, with authorities awaiting toxicology test results.

The Wayne County prosecutor's office released the affidavit Friday following a dispute with the Palladium-Item of Richmond over whether certain records related to the deaths should be made public or were confidential investigative records.

Police searched the home and the family car looking for DNA and other trace evidence, the document said. The search warrant also included a computer used by Erin and Kelly Stanley in the home, the hard drive and other memory devices that the document said may "contain significant evidence as to the perpetrator of these offenses."

Shipman said his office is staying tight-lipped about their investigation for fear of tipping off anyone involved in the case about evidence they have collected.

Rodney Anderson

Rodney Anderson

165 Years For Man Who Murdered Mother, 2 Children

Foster Brothers Found Dead On Couch, Porch

POSTED: 5:04 pm EDT April 8, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis man who fatally stabbed his mother and two foster brothers was sentenced Wednesday to 165 years in prison.

Sean Wright, 36, killed his mother, Flossie Wright, 60, and her two foster children, Demonte Norton, 10, and Rodney Anderson, 16, in September 2007.

Flossie Wright was found slain in her bed. Norton was found on the couch where he slept and Anderson was found on the porch of a nearby home.

Wright was found guilty of three counts of murder in March.

"This gruesome crime not only destroyed a family, but impacted a community," said Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi in a release Wednesday. "The sentence was well deserved."


Rodney Anderson Demonte Norton Flossie Williams Wright Rodney Anderson, 16, Indianapolis, died September 16, 2007. He was a student at Lawrence North High School. He is survived by brothers, Kevin Anderson and DePaul Anderson, and sister, Kiara Anderson. Burial: New Crown Cemetery. Demonte Norton, 10, Indianapolis, died September 16, 2007. He was a student at IPS #92. Survivors include brother, Kenyon Williams; sisters, Ayisha Norton, Lois Norton, and Kenya Williams. Burial: Crown Hill Cemetery. Flossie Williams Wright, 60, Indianapolis, died September 16, 2007. She was a Certified Nurse Assistant at Methodist Hospital and a member of Murchinson Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Survivors include daughter, Vonda Wright; sons, Alonzo Joseph Wright III (Latasha), Sean Vadeil Wright; stepson, Christopher Wright; brothers, Willie James Williams, James Williams, Jr., Steven Allen Williams, Sr. (Valeria); sisters, Genette Henard, Sarah Ann Williams, Mattie C. Williams, Hattie Moore-Bradley, Ida Mae Stanley (Vincent); seven grandchildren; and a host of other relatives and friends. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 22 at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, with calling there from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 21. Additional calling Saturday, September 22 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the church. Burial: New Crown Cemetery. Final arrangements entrusted to Lavenia, Smith & Summers Home for Funerals.

See posts for dear foster mother Flossie Wright here and foster brother Demonte Norton here.

Flossie Wright

Neighbor Distraught After Woman, Foster Kids Killed

Wounded Teen Got To Neighbor's Porch Before Dying

POSTED: 8:27 pm EDT September 17, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- Deandra Wilkins broke into tears Monday when she recalled seeing a teen dying on her porch after a stabbing that also killed his foster mother and another boy.

"At least he tried to make it over here," a tearful Wilkins said of 16-year-old Rodney Anderson, who police said was stabbed at the home where he lived across the street.

Police said they believe Sean V. Wright stabbed his mother, Flossie Wright, and her two foster children -- Anderson and Demonte Norton, 10 -- early Sunday at Flossie Wright's home in the 4500 block of Shady Lane on the city's northeast side.

Police arrested Sean Wright about two hours later after an intensive search. He had been stabbed in the chest, and he was being treated Monday at Wishard Memorial Hospital.

After the attack, a naked and severely bleeding Anderson left his foster home, crossed the street and got onto Wilkins' porch.

Wilkins, a friend of Flossie Wright, said she heard Anderson plead for help.

"I heard, 'Help, help.' Our porch light doesn't work, so I couldn't see," Wilkins recalled to 6News' Cheryl Jackson.

Someone called police, and when an officer arrived, Wilkins opened her door and saw Anderson. At first, Wilkins didn't recognize him and thought he might be Flossie Wright, not yet knowing what had happened across the street.

"I just started screaming, 'Is it my neighbor? Is it my neighbor?'" Wilkins said.

Wilkins said she eventually recognized Anderson and was overwhelmed.

"I started crying, saying, 'Oh no, oh no, I can't believe it. I can't believe it.' And then the cop started trying to get him to talk," she said.

Police said that when an officer asked Anderson who had stabbed him, he answered, "Sean" and "Uncle."

Authorities said Flossie Wright's foster children knew Sean Wright as "Uncle."

Flossie Wright and Norton were pronounced dead in their home. Anderson was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Sean Wright is expected to be taken to the Marion County Jail after he is released from Wishard.

Wilkins was grieving her friend Monday.

"I don't understand all this, but all I know is she's in heaven," Wilkins said.

See posts for dear foster children Rodney Anderson here and Demonte Norton here.

Demonte Norton

Demonte Norton

Son accused of killing mom, two foster kids

Indianapolis - The son of an east side Indianapolis woman found stabbed to death is under arrest for her murder. 35-year-old Sean V. Wright is also charged in the deaths of the woman's other two children.

It happened in the 4500 block of Shady Lane - that's near 46th Street and Arlington on September 16, 2007.

Wright, is under arrest for the murder of his mother and two foster children that were in her care. One of the children is ten-year-old Demonte Norton, the son of Desmond White.

"I just know my son was yelling for me. He was trying to help that woman. I know he was. That is the type of kid he is," said White.

White carries a pictures of his son, one when his was nine months old and another from when he was about three years old. He last saw him five years ago.

White lost custody in 2002. He says the boy's mother surrendered him to state foster care soon after.

He told us he got the shocking news Sunday. "I get a call on my way down here. I get a call from my sisters that 'last night your son was killed.'"

White said he was hoping to get his son back before year's end. "I was trying to get myself together, you know, get a job. Get a home established, a room for him so he could back home."

Indianapolis Metro Police arrested the murder suspect Wright Sunday afternoon after a tip from a minister who told them Wright wanted to meet with him. According to police Wright had parked his car at a school on Sloan Avenue and walked a few blocks south. Instead of meeting his minister, a handful of police were waiting.

Wright is suspected of stabbing all three victims. Police found Flossie Wright and Demonte in the house. Stabbed and bleeding, 16-year-old Rodney Anderson came out of the front door of the Shady Lane home and went towards 46th Street where he collapsed. He managed to make it across the street and started banging on the front door that home and collapsed on that front porch. That's where police found him.

He was rushed to Wishard Hospital but it was too late. His wounds were too severe.

Neighbors say they never suspected any trouble the Wright house.

"She had a devil in her house," said White.

They never expected Flossie and her beloved children were in danger.


Classmates Raise $8,000 For Tombstone For Slain Boy

 INDIANAPOLIS -- Students upset that the grave of a 10-year-old classmate slain last fall didn't have a headstone have raised more than $8,000 to pay for a marker.

Demonte Norton's classmates held a Valentine's Day dance to help raise the $8,000, which is far more than the $1,600 needed to buy a marker for Norton's grave.

Officials from Indianapolis Public School No. 83 might use the extra money to buy a marker for Norton's foster brother, 16-year-old Rodney Anderson, who also was killed in the September attack at their foster mother's home.

See posts for dear foster mother Flossie Wright here and foster brother Rodney Anderson here.

John Hood

Bloomington murder suspect arrested

Police: Woman shot husband in chest

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Aug. 24, 2007

A Bloomington man was shot and murdered Thursday night after a reported domestic dispute.

John Hood, 63, owner of Putter’s Park and Johnny Joe’s Pub in Ellettsville, was shot once in the chest, said Monroe County Det. Brad Swain.

Police believe his wife, Juanita, 52, shot him.

At about 11:30 p.m. the Monroe County Sheriff’s department received a 911 call from Hood’s daughter, saying Juanita Hood had told her she shot John Hood, Monroe County Det. Brad Swain said.

Monroe County dispatched state troopers to their house where emergency personnel determined John Hood to be dead at the scene, Swain said. After interviewing Juanita Hood, officers arrested her. She now faces preliminary charges of murder.

Swain said the sheriff’s department will be pursuing other issues to try and get a clearer picture of what happened.

Juanita Hood was transported to the Monroe County Jail and is being held without bond.


Juanita Hood sentenced to probation in shooting death of her husband

March 8, 2011

Juanita Hood endured years of abuse at the hands of her husband and was so frightened on an August night in 2007 that she shot him as he grabbed her by the throat....

Camdon Adam Huffman

Premature Baby Dies After Mother was Beaten and Gave Birth

Dear Camdon Adam Huffman was born August 28, 2007, prematurely, and died after mother was severely beaten by boyfriend.  She was from Madison County, Indiana.

(No other information could be found).

Shadonna D. Cheatham

Boyfriend Charged in Woman's Slaying

Police: Man shot her, held gun to his mouth

July 26, 2007

CROWN POINT | Prosecutors on Thursday charged Shadonna Cheatham's boyfriend with fatally shooting her.  Dia Nelson, 33, of Gary, faces 65 years in prison if convicted of murder.

Court records show Cheatham's mother was visiting her Thursday evening at the apartment Cheatham, 22, and Nelson shared.

The mother and daughter were outside talking when Cheatham went back inside, reports state. A short time later, the woman heard a gunshot from inside the apartment.

When she went inside, she saw Nelson's two children at the bottom of the steps calling up to their father. Cheatham's mother went upstairs and found Nelson standing in the bathroom with a handgun to his mouth threatening to kill himself, reports state.  Then she saw her daughter on the floor with a bullet wound to her head.

Nelson's children were coming up the stairs so she grabbed them and took them to a neighbor's house, where she called police, reports state.  She went back to her daughter's apartment and saw Nelson coming downstairs with the gun still in his mouth.

Another witness told police he saw Nelson go back into the apartment. When he came back out, Nelson said: "It was an accident. I didn't mean to do it," the probable cause affidavit states.


GARY | In what has been a busy week for Gary homicide detectives, police are looking for a suspect in the Friday morning shooting death of a 22-year-old woman.

Shadonna Cheatham was found at 4456 W. 24th Ave. with a gunshot wound to the head. Cheatham's mother told police she was outside the apartment when she heard a gunshot, went back inside and found her daughter shot in a bedroom, Cmdr. Samuel Roberts said.

The mother told police she saw the suspect holding a gun and saying he was going to kill himself, Roberts said. The man then left the apartment.

Cheatham was pronounced dead at 9:56 a.m. at the Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus.

She is the fourth person killed in Gary this week. About 10 hours earlier, 27-year-old Kenyon Tarver was shot to death about three miles away.

Elijah Harris

Hammond couple charged in toddler's beating death

July 31, 2007 (WLS) -- A Northwest Indiana couple is charged in connection with the beating death of a toddler.

Twenty-three-month-old Elijah Harris died last Thursday after suffering traumatic brain injuries at a home in Hammond.  The child's mother, 29-year-old Angela Burgher , and the boy's stepfather, Dennis Burgher, each face four counts of child neglect.  Investigators say the toddler also had scalding burns on his body.

The mother and stepfather remained in custody Tuesday night.


CROWN POINT | Angela Burgher unfolded a crinkled piece of yellow paper Wednesday and read her apology for the circumstances leading up to her son's death.

The East Chicago woman's son, Elijah Harris, died in July 2007 of severe trauma to the head. He would have celebrated his second birthday a month later.

"I'm sorry to my children for not making better choices and decisions for them," Burgher said Wednesday in a shaky voice.

Burgher was sentenced Wednesday to an agreed term of 10 years in prison for felony child neglect that led to Elijah's death.

The 21-year-old woman, who also has another child, pleaded guilty in April in return for Lake County prosecutors dropping five other felony charges that included battery and neglect of a dependent.

Burgher admitted to watching her husband, Dennis Burgher, strike her son, Lake Criminal Court records show. She said she also noticed blisters and burns on Elijah's body but didn't do anything to get him help.

Angela Burgher also admitted she heard a "thump" while getting ready for work and found Elijah's body crumpled on the basement floor with Dennis Burgher standing nearby.

Dennis Burgher told her Elijah fell down the stairs, court records state. Angela Burgher left for work as usual.

Emergency responders to the Burghers' home said they found bruises to Elijah's forehead, lesions on both sides of his neck and untreated second-degree burns to his buttocks and groin. He wasn't breathing at the time, police said.

Both Burgher and her now estranged husband, Dennis, were charged with multiple felonies relating to Elijah's death.

Dennis Burgher, who was Elijah's stepfather, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony neglect of a dependent.

He admitted to failing to seek medical attention for Elijah after he saw the little boy's injuries. Dennis Burgher did not admit to any abuse or violence.

Luiz A. Gonzalez

Hammond Man Killed in Domestic Violence Incident

LUIS A. GONZALEZ, age 36, of Hammond, Indiana passed away Saturday, July 21, 2007. (Ridgelawn Funeral Home).  He was shot and killed by 13 yr old male in domestic issue.

(No other information could be found.  Please comment if you'd like to add information for dear Luiz).

Mia K. Jones

Husband held in shooting

July 18, 2007

A Hobart man fatally shot his wife in the head Monday night while their two children -- including a 10-month-old baby -- were in the same apartment, police said Tuesday. Police say Tyrone Jones shot Mia K. Jones at the Lake in the Woods Apartment Complex. They lived at Apartment 735, 77 Neringa Lane.

At 11:36 p.m., a man suspected to be Jones called 911 saying he needed an ambulance for his wife, who had been shot.

Mia Jones was found inside her bedroom. Lake County Coroner's office pronounced her dead at the scene at 12:35 a.m.


A Hobart woman police said was shot and killed by her husband last week is being laid to rest today. Mia K. Jones' funeral is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 735 E. 20th Ave., in Gary, with burial to follow at Evergreen Memorial Park in Hobart.

Jones was 25. She had two sons with her husband, Tyrone Jones. The boys, ages 3 and 10 months, were inside the family's third-story apartment July 17, at the Lake in the Woods complex, when Tyrone Jones shot and killed his wife, police said.

Beverly A. Seavers

Mitchell Man Charged With Death Of His Wife

Last updated on Monday, July 09, 2007

(MITCHELL) - Indiana State Police and the Mitchell Police Department are investigating the death of a Mitchell woman.

30-year-old Marty Seavers was arrested Saturday and faces preliminary charges of reckless homicide in the death of his wife, Beverly Seavers. An early morning 911 call alerted police on the incident.

Seavers has been taken to the Lawrence County Security Center on the Class C felony.  The case has been referred to the Lawrence County Prosecutors office.


(BEDFORD) - 30-year-old Marty Seavers, of Mitchell, has been charged with murder in the death of his wife, 48-year-old Beverly A. Moffatt Seavers.

A probable cause affidavit states that Seavers admitted that he and his wife had been fighting and she would not stop yelling at him.

Police say Seavers put his hands around his wife's neck during the incident. An initial autopsy was performed and Beverly was found to have died from suffocation due to smothering.

Lawrence County Coroner John Sherrill will give a final cause of death once all testing from the autopsy is completed.  Marty Seavers remains in the Lawrence County jail on a $50,000 cash bond.

Archie Strickland Jr.

Dispute Ends in Fatal Shooting

July 18, 2007

While calling police for help quelling a nasty fight between her two grown sons Monday evening, Kathleen Strickland heard a gunshot.

Her older son, Archie Strickland Jr., 30, was shot. Her younger son, Andre Strickland, 22, was gone.

Archie died a short time later at Methodist Hospitals Northlake emergency room with a gunshot wound to his thigh. He was pronounced dead at 8:14 p.m., Lake County Coroner’s Chief Investigator Paul Castro said.

Andre was arrested at his girlfriend’s house in Brunswick on Monday night, but was released Tuesday by police after he was questioned.

Cmdr. Samuel Roberts said investigators believe Andre fired after his older brother, who suffered from bipolar personality and was recently released from a rehabilitation program, wouldn’t stop his attack.

“There’s an element of self-defense,” Roberts said.

Lake County prosecutors are reviewing the evidence, but no charges are expected to be filed against the younger Strickland brother.

Their mother, a radio dispatcher for the Gary Police Department, told investigators her sons were arguing downstairs in their Tolleston home when Archie began hitting Andre with his fists.

Despite her efforts to intervene, the battle continued. She went upstairs to call police when she heard the single gunshot, police said. Detective Lorenzo Davis presented the case to prosecutors Tuesday.

Jessica Janusas

Jessica Janusas

Jessica Janusas (15) and her stepfather were found dead in an apparent murder suicide

June 13, 2007

A man and his stepdaughter were found dead Monday night in what coroner's office officials are initially calling a murder-suicide.

Mickey Gordon, 42, and Jessica Janusas, 15, both of 519 N. Colfax, were found dead in the home, the Lake County coroner's office said. Gordon died of a gunshot wound to the head, and Janusas died from gunshot wounds to the body, officials said.

An autopsy, which is scheduled for this morning, and a police investigation will reveal more about the incident, a coroner's spokesman said.

Friends, classmates and teammates of Janusas, a Calumet High School student, gathered Monday night on lawns around the single-story home on Colfax, Griffith's eastern border with Calumet Township. Word of the deaths spread through cell phones Monday night.

"She was an honor student, a really good kid," said Melody Jackson, Lake Ridge Fire Department chief and mother of one of Janusas' friends.

A relative found the pair dead of gunshot wounds about 5 p.m. in the home, sheriff's Detective Robert Bridgeman said. The coroner's office received a call at 5:44 p.m., officials there said.

Bridgeman offered no comment on whether police are seeking any suspects. Police had spoken with no witnesses to the killings, he said.

"We're still trying to piece everything together," he said.

Janusas was a softball player and cheerleader, friends said. She was upbeat, they said.

"I don't think she was ever mad or sad," Jessa Musall said.

Those gathered had less to say about Gordon.

"I was really shocked when somebody told me it was Mickey," neighbor Larry Little said. Little said he went to Calumet Township High School and played softball with Gordon more than a decade ago.

"This is so sad," Little said.

Teens talked to reporters on lawns bathed in red and blue lights, but tried to block television cameras from filming the scene. They formed a human wall around the house about 9 p.m. They cheered when one child climbed on another's shoulders to block a camera. Jackson pulled her full-sized truck in front of the house.

Shayla Snedeker

Shayla Snedeker

Shayla Snedeker (19) was killed by her father in a double murder-suicide

June 9, 2008

A double murder-suicide has left neighbors shaken, and wondering what would make a father kill his wife and daughter, then turn the gun on himself.

Police were called to a home just north of Argos Monday morning.

Police say the husband and wife who lived there had ongoing marital problems and were in the process of getting divorced.

The crime scene tape is gone, but the question remains: Why did it have to end like this?

Dustin Younger stopped at the home to make sure what he had heard really happened.

"It tears me up," he told WSBT News.

He worked with Susan Snedecker.

"We were really close," he said. "She was like a second mother to me."

Police say overnight, Susan's husband Terry shot and killed her, their 19-year-old daughter Shayla, and then turned the gun on himself.

Their 12-year-old son made the gruesome discovery when he woke up.

"He was obviously upset and distraught about what had occurred here," explained Det. Lt. Ward Byers of the Marshall County police. "But he was being a very brave young man, and was able to sit down and talk with us about what occurred and what he observed when he woke up in the morning."

Neighbors were caught off guard.

"They were very good people," said neighbor Michael Hammond. "Terry had been sick, and I had been mowing his yard and stuff for him - just neighbor stuff. This was not anticipated."

Officials at the Argos Community Schools - where Shayla graduated from recently and the 12-year-old still attends - called in extra counselors and their crisis intervention team.

"I know the staff, the individual teachers, and so on are fielding a lot of individual questions and concerns," said Ronald Leichty of the Argos Community Schools.

Many in the small community are now asking why.

"Last time I was here everything was all good," Younger said. "It didn't seem like they had any problems or anything."

Shayla Snedecker was a student at Ancilla College. School officials say they're deeply distressed and still in a state of shock. They also have extra grief counselors on hand.

See post for dear mother Susan Snedeker here.

Tracy Parham

Gary man charged with killing, burying woman

21-year-old faces 65 years in prison if convicted of murder

May 31, 2007

CROWN POINT | A 21-year-old Gary man accused of bludgeoning a woman to death and then burying her in his backyard was charged Wednesday with murder.

Louis Vela turned himself in and confessed Tuesday, which led investigators to the body of Tracy Parham, 34, police said.

Officers on Tuesday evening found her naked body wrapped in contractors garbage bags in a grave near the garage at Vela's home, 3856 Van Buren St.

Vela reportedly told police he was smoking crack with Parham on March 11, his 21st birthday. When Parham refused to have sex with him, he bashed her in the head with a lead crystal clock, police and prosecutors say in court records.

When Parham did not wake up, Vela took her to his room and had sex with her, according to the court records.

Parham's body remained in Vela's bedroom while Vela went with family members to Taco Bell and a movie in Portage to celebrate his birthday, court records allege.

Later, in the dark, Vela wrapped Parham in the large plastic bags and dug a grave for her near his backyard garage, police allege.

But when Vela's aunt took him to visit his mother in a nursing home Tuesday, Vela broke down and told the women he had killed someone on March 11, court records say. His aunt encouraged him to turn himself in and accompanied him to the Gary police station.

Vela led police through the home, pointing out objects that likely will become evidence, including bedding, the clock and the shovel with which he buried Parham, police said.

Vela was jailed without bond and faces a maximum sentence of 65 years.

Parham's daughter, Sierra Parham, 13, told The Times on Wednesday that nothing she hears about her mother and how she died will change how she feels.

"No matter what, she was always the sweetest person. She was always there for me and had my back and took care of me like she needed to," Sierra said.

Johnette Parham, the victim's mother, said even though she hadn't heard from Tracy Parham in more than two months, she didn't file a missing person's report, hoping her daughter "went out of town with her boyfriend."

"I was praying that was the situation," Johnette Parham said.

She said she learned about her daughter's death from one of Vela's family members Wednesday. She said she did not know Vela, but she is glad Vela's aunt encouraged him to do the right thing.

"I think that was very courageous and honorable of them," Johnette Parham said. "I won't judge him; I'll let God judge him."

Angela Metheny

Angela Metheny

Police Say Man Killed Former Wife, Self in LaPorte County

Body in Michigan City parking lot leads to woman's body at home

April 11, 2007|By STAN MADDUX Tribune Correspondent

MICHIGAN CITY - Police say a man broke into the home he used to live in and fatally shot his ex-wife. He then drove to a church parking lot and killed himself.

That's the picture being drawn Wednesday by LaPorte County Police investigating a second double shooting in less than 24 hours.

Keith Metheny, 47, and Angela Metheny, 37, were divorced and he no longer lived in the couple's marital home at Hunter's Run, a subdivision along U.S. 20 north of LaPorte.

About 9 a.m. Tuesday, Michigan City officers were called to St. John's United Church of Christ near the U.S. 421 and U.S. 20 intersection.  Metheny was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in a Jeep in the church parking lot, police said.

About five hours later, officers from Michigan City went to the couple's former marital home, where Angela Metheny still resided, to notify her about his death, said LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer.  They discovered a rear door on the walk-out basement had been forced open. Inside the residence police found Angela Metheny's body, also the victim of a fatal gunshot wound.

"All indications at this time are it appears connected," said Mollenhauer, who emphasized the investigation is continuing.

According to neighbors, Angela Metheny was employed in nursing care.  Keith Metheny was a welder at Jet Fabricators Inc. in Michigan City since 1994.

"He never missed work. He was very dependable. He was the last guy I would expect to do this," said Darrell Cleek, vice president in charge of production at the steel fabricating plant.


ROLLING PRAIRIE - Investigators continue to piece together the details of what happened sometime before 9:25 a.m. Tuesday when Keith Metheny, 47, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Jeep parked at St. John's United Church of Christ, 101 St. John Road.

Later on Tuesday, Metheny's former wife, Angela, 37, was found dead when police went to her home in the Hunter's Run subdivision near U.S. 20 and Fail Road, west of Rolling Prairie, to notify her of the death.

Police said she had been shot in the head, but haven't said anything further in the case, which appears to be a murder-suicide.

The brother of Keith Metheny, Dennis Metheny, the Coolspring Township trustee and host of a cable talk show as well as co-host of a radio call-in show, declined to comment until autopsies were completed in South Bend today.

According to Superior Court records, Keith Metheny filed for divorce on March 7, 2003, after the couple separated on Feb. 20. The divorce was finalized March 1, 2006. The couple was married July 21, 1990, in Michigan City, and had no children.

The divorce decree awarded the house on Sportsman Lane and a 2002 Ford Taurus to Angela Metheny, and a 2003 Jeep Wrangler to Keith Metheny. The couple agreed to the division of other property.

Angela Metheny did not request to have her name restored to her maiden name of Avila. Her mother, Jeanette Avila, and a sister would not comment Wednesday, saying they were still in mourning.

The St. John's church office manager, who preferred not to be named, said Wednesday that she called Michigan City police at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, at the time the church's preschool started. A mother had dropped off her child and came to the church office to report that a Jeep was parked in the back of the lot with a man who was “either asleep or dead.”

The mother was concerned for the safety of children.

A short time later, a Comcast Cable employee whose child attends the preschool called 911 to report that he saw a man with a wound to the head inside the Jeep.

Michigan City police officer David Fleck arrived at the scene at 9:25 a.m. to begin an investigation that eventually led to the discovery of Angela Metheny at her home at 808 E. Sportsman Lane, in the Hunter's Run subdivision.

Neighbors across the street and immediately west of the Metheny home on Sportsman Lane also would not comment, saying they were close to both parties.

Jennifer Montejano

Woman Delivers Healthy Baby After Being Shot, Then Dies

25-Year-Old's Other 3 Children At Home During Shooting

January 8, 2007

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. -- A 25-year-old pregnant Indiana woman who was reportedly shot accidentally in the face by her boyfriend and then delivered a healthy baby girl late last month has died. (See update below)

Jennifer Montejano, of 3825 Elm St., in East Chicago, Ind. was pronounced dead at 8:45 p.m. Sunday at St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Olympia Fields, according to a spokesman from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

The shooting occurred Thursday, Dec. 28 when her boyfriend Fabian Gomez, 22, of Hammond, told authorities he had bought a box of bullets to fire on New Year's Eve, but accidentally shot Montejano during an argument in her Indiana Harbor apartment.

Despite being shot, she delivered a healthy 5-pound, 9-ounce baby girl at an Olympia Fields hospital an hour after the shooting.

Montejano, who was eight months pregnant, suffered a .38-caliber gunshot wound next to her nose. Montejano's three young children were in the apartment when the shooting occurred, police said.

Information regarding charges was not immediately available Monday morning.


Murder Charge Filed Eight Months After Pregnant Woman Dies
By the Associated Press

The boyfriend of a pregnant woman who was shot in the face now faces a murder charge in connection with her death.

Fabian Gomez, 23, of Whiting also is charged with aggravated battery, battery and criminal recklessness. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter announced the new charge Friday.

Jennifer Montejano, 25, of East Chicago was eight months pregnant when she was shot Dec. 28, suffering a .38-caliber gunshot wound that left her in a coma for more than a week before she died.

The night she was shot, doctors delivered a 5-pound, 9-ounce girl by emergency Caesarean section.

Gomez told police he had bought a new box of bullets to fire on New Year's Eve but accidentally shot Montejano during an argument in her apartment.

The victim's family said earlier this year that they wanted murder charges filed against Gomez.