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.