Sandra Kessler

Sandra Kessler

Prominent doctor suspected in girlfriend's death

Fox59 News has learned Dr. John Reynolds, the Chief Health Officer for the Morgan County Health Department could be facing an indictment for causing the death of his former girlfriend, 61 year-old Sandra Kessler.

Kimberly King Fox59
1:05 PM EDT, May 25, 2010

Martinsville, Ind. - Fox59 News has learned Dr. John Reynolds, the Chief Health Officer for the Morgan County Health Department could be facing an indictment for causing the death of his former girlfriend, Sandra Kessler, 61.

Kessler died November 9, 2009. Her death was suspicious and an investigation began. Now a grand jury is reviewing evidence this week.

Fox59 News learned Dr. Reynolds is, what's called, the target suspect, meaning the lead suspect in causing Kessler's death. Dr. Reynolds remains in his job as the Health Department's spokesman. It's a job he's held for approximately 10 years. Meanwhile, Sandra's daughters are remembering their mom as the case comes to light.

"She was the most loving caring and most wonderful person in the whole wide world," said Stephanie, Sandra's adult daughter.

"She didn't deserve to die."

"Everyone loved her in this community, she worked here 15 years," said Cassandra Kessler, Sandra's other daughter.

Fox59 News obtained the Coroner's report that lists her cause of death as intoxication with the narcotics morphine and codeine.

"They're pain medications and the side effect is sedation and an overdose results in respiratory failure," said Dr. George Ostheimer, a board member of the Morgan County Health Department.

Ostheimer said he knows Dr. Reynolds well. The news Reynolds is the focus of a grand jury investigation, to him, comes as a surprise.

"The administrator at the health department said they'd been called as witnesses to testify and that's all she knew," said Dr. Ostheimer.

Fox59 News learned Sandra may have received the narcotics at Dr. Reynolds spacious home that sits on a hill a few miles outside of downtown Martinsville.

"I don't want to discuss that," said Dr. Reynolds at his front door when asked about Sandra's death. As for his former girlfriend's death from narcotics, Dr. Reynolds had little to say.

"I haven't seen the toxicology report and I'm just not willing to discuss it."

The night Sandra died, investigators said instead of calling nearby Morgan County for an ambulance, Dr. Reynolds dialed to a Columbus ambulance service way out of town. Investigators say they found that suspicious.

"He's never had any lapse in moral ground or in the professional realm, he's always been impeccable," said Dr. Ostheimer who recommended Reynolds for the Health Officer job a decade ago.

Board chairman Dr. Paul Broderick said by phone that Dr. Reynolds had done an excellent job as director.

Sandra's daughters don't wish to discuss evidence or their possible testimony in the grand jury proceedings. They simply want to remember their Mom as their best friend.

"She always worked so hard for us, we didn't have a lot of money growing up but she was always there for us," said Stephanie.

Another woman may also have been involved in the scenario. Dr. Reynolds was also reportedly facing financial problems. It's unclear how those factors played into Sandra Kessler's death but they are reported as relevent in the grand jury case. Fox59 News will follow the investigation and have an update possibly in the next 10 days if Reynolds is cleared or indicted.

Phillip Danner

Phillip Danner

WARSAW, Ind. (April 30) -- Two young friends from a quiet, middle-class neighborhood in northern Indiana wanted to run away to Arizona so badly, prosecutors say, that they gunned down a stepfather who stood in the way of their plans.

The two alleged triggermen -- ages 15 and 12 -- kept the plot a closely guarded secret until the older boy's 49-year-old stepfather, Phillip Danner, was shot to death in his home last week, according to neighbors and family members who testified at a hearing Thursday in which a judge ruled the boys would be tried for murder as adults.

Phillip Danner, 49, was gunned down in his home in Cromwell, Ind., on April 20. His 15-year-old stepson and a 12-year-old friend have been charged in the slaying.

But sheriff's Detective Jonathan Tyler testified that the boys and two of their friends, who didn't take part in the actual slaying, plotted for at least a month to kill Danner, so they could run off to Arizona.

On the day of the slaying, the boys met at a park before going to the older boy's home near Lake Wawasee, between Fort Wayne and South Bend, where he had gathered two of Danner's handguns, Tyler said. The two defendants waited in the living room until Danner appeared in a kitchen doorway, Tyler said, then shot him four times -- once in the eye, once in the wrist and twice in the chest.

Neighbors and family members who testified Thursday said the 15-year-old and 12-year-old were good students who stayed out of serious trouble at school. The worst trouble either had been in was when the 15-year-old was put under juvenile court supervision for four months last year after he shot a BB gun at a neighbor riding a lawn mower.

"Obviously, something's gone very wrong," the 15-year-old boy's mother said. "I don't know what that is. I would like to know what that is."

The Associated Press did not identify the woman because she shares her son's last name. The AP generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes.

One of the two other boys who authorities say took part in the planning is a 12-year-old who is being detained on juvenile charges of aiding a murder. The other boy hasn't been charged.

According to police, the two 12-year-olds and the 15-year-old met up hours after the shooting and took off in a car belonging to the 15-year-old's mother, who was in Florida on vacation.

Investigators still aren't certain why the boys wanted to go to Arizona. One theory is that the boys -- who allegedly killed Danner and headed west on April 20, an unofficial holiday for marijuana users -- intended to sell pot. Police said alcohol, marijuana and a gun were found in the car when the boys were caught in Peru, Ill., about 5 a.m. the next day.

Attorneys for the murder suspects stressed Thursday that both boys were presumed innocent and urged Judge Duane Huffer to treat them as juveniles, saying their chances of rehabilitation would be greater in the juvenile system than in adult prison. But Huffer said the juvenile system wasn't equipped to deal with crimes of such magnitude.

"The act alleged was violent and unprovoked," Huffer said.

Both boys are being held in the county jail and could face an initial hearing in adult court as early as today, according to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Hampton.

Calvin Carr, 35, Danner's neighbor, said he thought the 15-year-old was "a good kid" but recently became suspicious that the boy might be smoking cigarettes and pot. After that, Carr said, the boy had stopped coming over to Carr's house to hang out with his children.

Mike Koher, a longtime friend of Danner's who often went motorcycling with the family on weekends, saw no sign of any trouble in his friend's relationship with his stepson. Sheriff's officials said they had found no sign of any abuse.

"I never seen anything out of the ordinary," said Koher, 53. "They seemed to get along."

He said the teen rode behind on his stepfather's Harley-Davidson on family trips while his mother rode her own motorcycle. He also said Danner bought dirt bikes for himself and his stepson so they could ride together, and they went fishing together in Danner's bass boat.

"It seemed real normal to me. Being a step's always tough, but I would never have saw this coming if that's what actually happened," Koher said.


Phillip A. “Phil” Danner, 49, of Cromwell, passed away on Wednesday, April 21,2010, at his home.

He was born on Sept. 13, 1960 in Columbia City, Ind. to Dale and Carmen (Brower) Danner. On May 7, 2003, he married Robin (Gilson) Lundy.

Mr. Danner is survived by his wife Robin Danner, Cromwell; daughter Natasha (Aaron) Hoffman, Milford; son Brandon Sean (Dustie Ann) Woods, Oakfield, Tenn.; stepson Colt Lundy, Cromwell; a grandson, a stepgrandson; and 2 sisters: Karen (Scott) Brandel, Fort Wayne; and Kimberly (Bernie) Wilson, Warsaw.
He was preceded by his parents.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday April 24, 2010 at Owen Family Funeral Home, Syracuse. Services will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday April 25, 2010 at the funeral home with Pastor Kent Butcher of The Vineyard Community Church officiating. Burial will be in the North Webster Cemetery (Mock Addition) at a later date.

Carter L. McCord

Carter L. McCord

Posted: May 20, 2010

NOBLESVILLE -- A Noblesville man now faces more serious charges in connection to the death of his girlfriend's infant son.

Aaron T. Spears, 31, was charged this afternoon with neglect of a dependent resulting in death and battery resulting in death, both Class A felonies, and reckless homicide, a Class C felony.

He was arrested Monday on lesser charges, but the severity of charges increased after the infant, 8-month-old Carter L. McCord, died Tuesday at Riley Hospital for Children.

A Riley doctor who cared for Carter said he suffered from multiple head injuries, bilateral retinal hemorrhages and a bruise on his cheek, according to a probable cause affidavit. He was on a ventilator for two days before he died.

Carter sustained the injuries Sunday while Spears was watching him, according to the affidavit. Carter's mother, Samantha McCord, was at work.

Spears told police that he put Carter on a sofa, gave him a bottle and left the living room to get a drink. He heard Carter crying and picked him up "grabbing him under the arms, and forcefully pulling the baby toward him so hard that Carter's head impacted (Spears') shoulder and snapped back," according to the affidavit. Spears felt him go limp. Spears "then began forcefully bouncing Carter up and down while holding him with one hand," he told police, according to the affidavit.

Spears called 911 shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday to report Carter was not breathing and unresponsive. Carter was taken by ambulance to Riverview Hospital and was later transferred to Riley.

Spears is being held at the Hamilton County Jail. The court agreed today to increase his bail to $250,000 from $100,000. His trial is set for Oct. 5. Spears told the court he has not yet hired an attorney.

Services for Carter will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Randall & Roberts in Fishers. Calling will begin at 1 p.m.

Payton Wesley Ettinger

Courtney Tressler, Indiana Mom, Charged With Starving Disabled 4-Year-Old Son To Death

August 20, 2010

GREENSBURG, Ind. — A southeastern Indiana woman faces child neglect and reckless homicide charges alleging she starved to death her 4-year-old son, who weighed 12 pounds when police found his emaciated body in a crib.

Courtney G. Tressler, 25, of Greensburg was arrested Wednesday, more than three months after her severely disabled son died from malnutrition and dehydration. She was released from jail in the city about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis after posting $15,000 bond.

Tressler called police May 17 to say she had found her son, Payton Wesley Ettinger, dead four hours after feeding him and putting him in his crib for a nap, authorities said. A pathologist's report found the boy had virtually no food in his stomach or intestines when he died.

The pathologist found that the boy suffered from "profound malnutrition," had no body fat and that the "skin on his face was drawn tightly against his skull and face bones with obvious emaciation," according to a probable charge affidavit against Tressler.

Investigators said the boy had not seen a doctor since Nov. 3, 2006, when he weighed 16 pounds, 5 ounces as a 1-year-old, according to the affidavit.

Tressler told officers she had intended to take her son to a doctor May 15 after noticing he had lost weight but had delayed the trip for financial reasons. But investigators said in the affidavit that she visited a doctor twice on May 19 for her own medical reasons.

Police said Tressler also claimed she had twice applied for Medicaid assistance for her son, but investigators found that was not the case, according to the document.

Payton Ettinger was unable to speak, walk or control most of his physical movements due to brain damage suffered during abuse by his father, police said. The boy's father, Martin Ettinger, is serving a 5-year prison sentence in Michigan after pleading guilty to battering his son so badly the child was confined to a crib and required constant care.

Tressler moved from Michigan to Indiana in January 2007 after she married Greg Tressler, who told Indianapolis television station WTHR that his wife is innocent and now traumatized by accusations she's responsible for her son's death.


Payton Wesley Ettinger, 4 of Greensburg passed away Monday May 17 at his residence.

Payton was born in Traverse City, Mich., on October 31, 2005 the son of Greg and Courtney (Hughey) Tressler.

He is survived by his parents and one brother, Caden Tressler and one sister, Aubrey Tressler all of Greensburg. He is also survived by his maternal grandparents, Gail Hughey and Shirley Fernandez and maternal great grandmother, Shirley Fernandez. His paternal grandparents, Daryl & Carol Tressler of Greensburg, great grandfather, Wilbur Tressler of Greensburg.

He was preceded in death by his great grandmother, Colleen Tressler and great grandfather Del Fernandez.

A private visitation and service will be held for the family.

If you would like to make a memorial contribution they may be made to the Shriners Hospital for Children in care of the Gilliland-Howe Funeral Home, 110 E. North Street Greensburg, Indiana 47240. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Leon Walker

Leon Walker

Boy's mother hoped new beginning was near

Woman entered church program, then came news of son's brutal death

May 4, 2010

GARY -- Turquoise Walker thought she had a plan that would mark the start of a new beginning for herself and her two sons.

But that changed Wednesday night when 5-year-old Leon Walker arrived at the hospital, covered with welts and bruises, dead from a broken neck.

The boy's father, Leon Burns, 28, and his girlfriend, Rochell Johnson, 32, have been charged with murder and neglect in the beating death of the boy. Police say the boy was bound and tortured in the hours before his death.

Burns has a formal appearance in Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray's court at 8:30 a.m. May 11. He's scheduled for a hearing on June 29.

Johnson has a May 14 court date.

Turquoise Walker, 26, cloistered in a church program for three weeks, is hurt, angry and confused about her loss.

"We planned this baby, we were engaged, we'd been together for six years. I was with this man throughout the all and all, the hard times and the good times. This was his first born," she said Monday from the Good Samaritan Mission home where she is part of a Christian Discipleship program.

"I read that he said he went too far. Yes, you did, you went too far when you beat him daily. What person in his right mind would do that?" she said.

Veteran investigators say the injuries they saw are some of the most brutal they've ever seen. Police accuse Burns of tying the boy's hands and with electrical cord and hitting him with a belt.

Johnson was at the Glen Park home the couple shared during the beatings, court records state. She heard the boy beg to be untied and heard his screams as he was punched. After he fell quiet, the couple called for an ambulance.

Leon died when his cervical spine was snapped. Police said he had a deep ligature mark around his neck.

Walker said she and Leon Burns were a couple for six years, then split. She had been living in Wisconsin, but Leon spoke with his father regularly. Last year she decided to come back to be near her family.

Her grandmother was taking care of Leon and her other son in East Chicago.

"I haven't seen my son in nine months. I've been on my own trying to make my own way; it's been one thing after another," she said.

Little Leon was "energetic. He loved his brother, he was always willing to help. He had the most beautiful smile," his mother recalled.

Mission Pastor Jim Watson said Turquoise Walker had crafted a colorful beaded key chain and a heart to mail to Leon for his sixth birthday on Monday.

"Within an hour of when she was going to the post office to mail the gifts, the police were here," Watson said.

"She came here so she could become the mother she needs to be. She thought her child was safe," Watson said, describing Walker as "fragile" in the aftermath of Leon's death.

Burns was supposed to keep the boy for a weekend visit, but when Walker's grandmother started calling to bring Leon home, "and it was one excuse after another," Walker said.

"Now we know why," she said.

Today Walker will make funeral arrangements for her son.

"I have no idea how to plan one," she said.

Watson said his church is handling the funeral costs. Anyone who wishes to donate in Leon Walker's memory to the program that helps women like his mother can send donations to the Good Samaritan Mission, P.O. Box 64580, Gary, Ind. 46401.

Franziska Stegbauer

Woman Killed Trying To Break Up Swordfight

Police: Men Fought With Swords During Argument

POSTED: 11:48 am EDT April 9, 2009

A woman was killed when she tried to break up a swordfight between her brother-in-law and a grandson in her home on Indianapolis' far-northwest side early Thursday morning.Franziska Stegbauer, 77, died as a result of stab wounds, Indianapolis police Sgt. Matt Mount said.Chris Rondeau, 39 and Adolf Stegbauer, 69, got into an argument at a home in the 5200 block of Raceway Road at about 1 a.m. that escalated when one of the men grabbed a sword, prompting the other man to also brandish a sword.

Police were initially unsure if Franziska Stegbauer's death resulted from stab wounds or from a medical condition brought on by the fight.Investigators are trying to determine which man stabbed the woman, but Rondeau was already being held on an attempted murder charge because of wounds that Adolf Stegbauer suffered.Adolf Stegbauer was listed in critical condition at Wishard Memorial Hospital Thursday afternoon after undergoing surgery."We're unsure yet who started this fight, how the swordplay got involved," said Indianapolis police Sgt. Matt Mount. "We're not sure who it was who stabbed the woman. We'll have to do some testing on the swords and figure out who had which sword, whose blood is on which sword."Rondeau, who was also hospitalized with stab wounds, was held Thursday afternoon at the hospital's detention unit.

Also see post for dear Adolf Stegbauer here, who did not survive.

Adolf Stegbauer

Man Dies Days After Swordfight That Killed Woman

Charges Expected To Be Upgraded Against Other Man In Stabbing

POSTED: 1:11 pm EDT April 13, 2009

A man died Monday, days after he was stabbed in a swordfight with the grandson of a woman who was also fatally stabbed when she tried to intervene in the fight, police said.Adolf Stegbauer, 69, died from complications of a stab wound, Indianapolis police said. Charges that were already pending against the man who police said stabbed Stegbauer, Chris Rondeau, 39, were expected to be upgraded.Franziska Stegbauer, 77, also died as a result of stab wounds after the fight early Thursday morning, but police were not initially sure which of the men had stabbed her.

Rondeau and Adolf Stegbauer got into an argument at a home in the 5200 block of Raceway Road that escalated when one of the men grabbed a sword, prompting the other man to also brandish a sword.Rondeau was being held on an attempted murder charge stemming from the stabbing of Adolf Stegbauer.

Also see post for dear Franziska Stegbauer here.