Kathleen Vargas

Indianapolis Man Faces Murder, Rape Charges

"She was visibly shaking. She was crying, in a lot of pain, stated that he had just sexually assaulted her. He used an object to assault her, and that's what we believe caused much of the internal damage."

August 27, 2009

Indianapolis - Police are investigating an attack on an 80-year-old woman that they believe killed her. They say a man almost half her age sexually assaulted her and may soon be facing murder charges.

It happened on the east side in the 1000 block of North Kealing Avenue on July 18th.

Police say Kathleen Vargas was attacked in her own home about a month ago by her 46-year-old boyfriend. They say the sexual assault was so brutal that she was unable to recover. Vargas died Wednesday night.

On July 18th, police arrested 46-year-old Monte Ayres for attempted murder, aggravated battery and rape. They say he violently assaulted 80-year-old Kathleen Vargas.

"The injuries she sustained during the sexual attack may in fact be the cause of her death," said Lt. Jeff Duhamell.

Ayres may now be charged with Vargas' murder.

"He's in jail now and hopefully won't see daylight again," said Lt. Duhamell.

Police say Vargas went across the street to try to escape Ayres. That's where a neighbor said he found her crying and shaking violently.

"I heard this lady yell, hollering 'mister.' She was leaned up against the railing. I asked her what was going on and she said, 'He beat me up,'" said the neighbor.

Police say Ayres tried to flee the scene but they caught up with him in a back alley.

"He resisted officers and fought them. He has a past for that - resisting and drinking. This isn't the first run in officers have had with him. In fact they've been called to that residence on a few other occasions involving him and each time he's been very violent," said Lt. Duhamell.

Neighbors say Ayres was Vargas' live-in boyfriend. He lived on and off with the 80-year-old woman for a few years.

"From my understanding I believe she hired him to cut her grass one day and that's kind of how they met," said neighbor Darrell Powers.

"She had at times spoken to me about some problems. She felt she made a big mistake by letting him move in. I said, 'Well, if you're having problems you should have him removed,'" said Powers.

Police say they removed Ayres several times from her home at her request. But neighbors say she always took him back in.

"By some of the things she said I think she felt that maybe he would improve and she didn't want to throw him out on the street. He didn't have a place to go. So I think the nice part of her is what kept him around," Powers said.

Murder charges are pending the results of her autopsy. Ayres is still behind bars on a $200,000 bond.

David Lawton

Lakeville man charged for murder in suspected love triangle

August 20, 2009

28-year-old Arden Balmer is formally charged for murder and criminal confinement. Court documents reveal Balmer asked his ex-girlfriend and a friend to meet at his house where the shooting and stand-off happened.

The investigation continues into a homicide in rural St. Joseph County.

28-year-old Arden Balmer Jr. of Lakeville is now being charged with murder and criminal confinement. Balmer is accused of shooting his friend and holding his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint.

According to court documents, Balmer confronted his ex-girlfriend and the man Balmer thought was her new boyfriend at his parent's house in Lakeville.

Police were called out just before noon by Alexandra Stahly, Balmer's ex-girlfriend.

Stahly told police Balmer called her asking her to come over. When she arrived she saw David Lawton there as well.

Balmer allegedly took Stahly and David Lawton out to the back yard.

Court documents say Balmer accused Lawton of "taking her away from me." He then pulled out a handgun and shot Lawton multiple times. Stahly said Balmer believed Lawton and Stahly were seeing each other, but they were not.

Neighbors in the area heard the shots.

“It didn't dawn on me until last night on the news that that is what I heard. It was probably the pingin'. It was probably the gunshots because it was like a rapid fire noise,” says neighbor Douglas Sweeney.

Balmer fled the area but came back to his house to hide where a 3 hour stand-off started.

It ended when he was shot in the shoulder by police. Police say a number of weapons were taken from the home including a handgun that had been fired at least 6 times.

The parents were not home when the shooting happened.

Aaron Pierce Blum

Police label truck shooting a murder

August 6, 2009

Porter County police are calling the shooting that injured 67-year-old James Blum and killed his 32-year-old son, Aaron Blum, a murder.

Police, in court documents seeking a search warrant for the pickup truck in which the two men were found, labeled the incident a murder and said the gunshot that killed the son and injured the father came from within the truck. Police repeatedly have said the Blums were the only two people involved in the shooting.  James Blum, however, has not been charged with murder and has not been named a suspect.

Police said the Blums were together in the father's pickup truck after leaving their Morgan Township home at 2 p.m. Sunday. The father and son were discovered in the truck by a passer-by at 10:15 a.m. Monday on County Road 575 East, north of U.S. 30, in Washington Township.

According to court documents, police and Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe said it appeared Aaron Blum had been dead for a number of hours. James Blum -- who police say shot himself in the chest -- was taken to Porter Valparaiso Hospital Campus for treatment. He is expected to survive.

Police said they spoke briefly to Blum at the hospital, who said he and his son were arguing when Aaron Blum threw coffee on his father. Blum told police he admitted firing the weapon he kept in the door of his truck, but he was taken away for treatment before officers could further question him, police said.

Police said the gun was found in the truck.  Portage attorney John Vouga, who is representing the Blum family, questioned the decision by police to interview James Blum while he was under the influence of medication and being treated for a serious gunshot wound at the hospital.

"I'm concerned as the family attorney that any law enforcement personnel would question a seriously injured man, who is going in for surgery," he said.

Vouga said it is not clear whether police made Blum aware of his rights before questioning him.

The Blum family said James Blum is an outstanding and highly respected member of the community, Vouga said.  The family plans to cooperate with police, through their attorney, once the funeral is over for Aaron Blum.

Vouga said the family still was investigating what happened and could not yet offer an explanation for the shooting.  Police had been looking for the Blums when the passer-by spotted James Blum slumped over the wheel of his truck.

James Blum's wife told police she saw the truck leaving at 2 p.m. Sunday, and when her husband and son failed to return, she reported them missing at 11 p.m. Sunday.


June 22, 2010

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - A northwestern Indiana man has pleaded guilty to charges that he fatally shot his 32-year-old son while they argued inside a pickup truck.

Sixty-nine-year-old James Blum of rural Valparaiso had faced murder charges in the August 2009 death of Aaron Blum. He occasionally cried during a Porter County court hearing Tuesday as he pleaded guilty to a reckless homicide charge.

The Post-Tribune reports Aaron Blum had recently been arrested for drunken driving and that James Blum told police an argument broke out as they discussed the younger man's future. Blum told police his son lunged for the handgun in the driver's door and it went off during a scuffle.  The Times reports a deputy prosecutor says Blum then drove to a hospital but left without seeking help for his son.


Aaron Pierce Blum, 32, of Valparaiso, passed away Monday, August 3, 2009. He was born November 2, 1976 in Valparaiso to A. James and Bette (Pierce) Blum. Aaron is survived by his parents of Valparaiso, his brother Matthew A. Blum, sister-in-law, Trisha Pozil-Blum of Valparaiso, IN, and also his nephews Tresten and Damian Pozil. Aaron's passion included his love for painting and the theatre. He will be remembered by his family and friends for his laughter and sense of humor that he infused into our lives. Aaron was a member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso. Private family services will be held. The final resting place of Aaron will be in St. John's Cemetery in Wanatah. Memorial contributions can be made to the Immanuel Lutheran Church Food Pantry at 1700 Monticello Dr. in Valparaiso, IN 46383. Bartholomew Funeral Home will be in charge of arrangements.

Shannon Michael Lowe

Shannon Michael Lowe

Victims in Grant Co. murders were not having affair

Aug 10, 2009

Swayzee - Police say a man who was murdered last week by a disgruntled husband was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Investigators believe the double murder-suicide in Grant County may have stemmed from a misunderstanding.

Detectives say William McKinney, 46, feared that his 40-year-old wife, Heidi, was having an affair after the couple recently separated. McKinney shot and killed his estranged wife and her friend, 30-year-old Shannon Lowe at a home in Swayzee Friday, before turning the gun on himself.

Heidi McKinney stayed with a female friend at the house on Thursday to get away from her marital problems, police say. Investigators say William McKinney had been spying on his wife, following her to the house.

Investigators say that Lowe came to the Swayzee home the next day to help his friend, Heidi. Both were having marriage troubles and were sharing coffee on a patio when they were confronted by William McKinney, who was carrying a gun.

Police say they have no reason to believe that Lowe, who worked with children in his job with a residential and family services group, was romantically involved with Heidi McKinney, who was a hair stylist at a Marion salon.

"From what we're told, he was trying to help her out through this crisis. He was having marital problems of his own and was reaching out to someone in the same position he was," said Det. Tim Holtzleiter, Grant Co. Sheriff's Department.

Investigators say an angry William McKinney had it wrong when he parked his car nearby, walked up the block and confronted the two, shooting them in a jealous rage before killing himself.

See post for dear friend Heidi McKinney here.

Heidi M. McKinney

Heidi McKinney

Three dead in apparent murder-suicide at Grant County home

Aug 07, 2009 5:28 PM EDT 

Grant County - Police say three people died in an apparent double murder-suicide at a central Indiana home.

Police officers were called to the home in the Grant County town of Swayzee about 7:00 am Friday. Investigators say a man shot his wife and another man at the home before shooting himself.

The Grant County Coroner's Office identified the victims as Heidi M. McKinney, 40, and her husband William T. McKinney, 46. They were found dead at the scene. Shannon Michael Lowe, 30, was still breathing when officers arrived at the scene, but he later died.

Police believe William McKinney shot his wife and Lowe, then shot himself. However, detectives are still searching for fingerprints and other evidence to confirm that theory.

A statement from the Grant County Sheriff's Department says the homeowner who heard the shots witnessed McKinney shoot himself.

Lewis Joyner was walking nearby when he heard shots. "I heard it go bang, then it's like a bang, bang, bang. And I told my wife that sounded to me like gunshots."

None of the deceased lived at the home, police said. Police say the McKinneys lived in Marion but that Heidi McKinney had spent the night at the home in Swayzee. It's unclear where the male victim lived, and his relationship to Heidi McKinney.

According to reports, the McKinneys were separated.

Neighbors in the small town near Marion were startled by the early morning murders.

"My dog was alerted first and he was doing a lot of barking and letting us know that something was going on outside and when we came downstairs, there were probably about eight or nine squad cars," said April Hamilton, neighbor.

"Nothing like...anything like this happens, ever. It was very shocking to hear," said Chelsie Cahue.

See post for dear friend Shannon Michael Lowe here.