March 7, 1949 – Charles Manson, a 14-year-old petty criminal from Indianapolis, learned Juvenile Court Judge Joseph O. Hoffman had granted his request to be transferred to Boys Town in Nebraska. Local priest Reverend George Powers, who helped facilitate the request, referred to the future cult leader and mass murderer as “a very genuine lost little kid.”
March 6, 1994 – Convicted killer and Indiana native Larry William Eyler (41) died of complications related to AIDS in the infirmary of the Pontiac Correctional Center (IL). Two days after his death, Eyler’s defense attorney released a posthumous statement in which Eyler confessed to the murders of at least 21 young men. In the confession, he also alleged Robert David Little (52) of Terre Haute had been his accomplice in some of the killings, and was the sole person responsible for the death of Daniel Bridges. Little, an Indiana State University professor with whom Eyler had lived for seven years, was brought up on charges in connection with one of the murders but later acquitted. He then returned to teaching.
March 4, 1996 – A Decatur County jury deliberated only three hours before sentencing 22-year-old Kristine “Kristi” Bunch to 60 years in prison for the death of her son Anthony.
Although Prosecutor William O. Smith had not presented evidence of a motive during the trial, Indiana Fire Marshals Bryan Frank and James Skaggs asserted they’d found evidence “the fire was deliberately set, that accelerants had been used to cause the fire, that there were ‘pour patterns’ in the burned-out home where accelerants had been poured, and that the fire had started in two separate locations, one of which was the bedroom in which Anthony was sleeping.”
A report by William Kinard, a forensic chemist with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, had further substantiated those findings.
Ten years later, Bunch filed a petition challenging her conviction. It was then revealed that Kinard had initially disagreed with Skaggs and Frank’s conclusion of arson. However, key portions of the ATF chemist’s report were later deleted or altered in order to coincide with the opinions of the fire marshals.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Bunch’s conviction on March 21, 2012, and all charges were dropped later that year.
By then, she had already lost seventeen years of her life behind bars.
Kristine, who was pregnant at the time of her arrest, is a free woman today and has reconnected with the son she gave birth to in prison.
February 26, 1934 – The body of Lloyd C. Gleason (40) was found in the basement of his Yorktown meat market by his sister, Pearl Jefferson. The butcher had been shot three times – once in the forehead, once behind the left ear, and once in the back of the head – and had bruises consistent with a beating. Additionally, his lower left leg and shoe had been severely burned. “A long-barrel .22 caliber pistol” was found nearby.
The victim’s son, James “Marvin” Gleason (21), was taken into custody the next day. Marvin admitted to ownership of the gun but initially denied having anything to do with his father’s death, despite saying the older man had been an abusive alcoholic and adulterer who had caused the family hardship. Marvin’s story changed a few hours later, however, when police found his bloodstained clothing.
This time, Marvin claimed he’d been in an altercation with his father over a bottle of whiskey, and the fight had culminated in the shooting. He also admitted to trying to dispose of his father in the furnace, but he’d had to abandon that part of his plan when he couldn’t lift the corpse high enough to clear the furnace door.
After Marvin confessed, his mother told reporters her son had previously been to a psychiatric clinic in Detroit. Dora Gleason also claimed a physician there had recommended committing Marvin to a sanitarium to cure his dementia praecox, a generic term used for schizophrenia at the time, but the family lacked the funds to do so. The young man, who had been awarded but did not accept a Rector Scholarship at Depauw University, stayed instead at his grandparents’ home after graduation.
Within days of Dora’s statement to the press, Marvin gave another confession, this time implicating his mother as an accessory. He claimed that he and his mother had “reached an understanding” that he would kill his father, and she’d given him the idea of cremating the body in the furnace. On March 5th, one week to the day after the death of her husband, Dora was arrested . A grand jury later failed to indict her though, and charges against her were dismissed.
The following May, Judge L. A. Guthrie ruled Marvin Gleason “mentally incapable of standing trial” and confined him to the hospital for the criminally insane at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, where he would remain for almost six years. After his release, he changed his name and went to stay with his mother, who had remarried.
February 9, 2005 – After receiving a tip from Missouri authorities, Indianapolis police discovered three bodies buried in basement of a Linwood Avenue residence.
Siblings Kenneth (29) and Kari (18) Allen had been pulled over for speeding in St. Charles County, Missouri the previous day. During a search of their rental car, several suspicious items – including bloody bedding, credit cards, and identification belonging to an elderly couple – were found. When questioned, Kari abruptly admitted to helping her brother kill not only their grandparents, Leander and Betty Bradley, but also their mother, Sharon Allen. Indianapolis police executed a search warrant based on the information and found all three bodies beneath freshly-poured concrete in the basement of the Bradleys’ home.
The motive for all three deaths was the same: Kenneth had wanted his grandfather’s life savings to pay off gambling debts. He pleaded guilty in January 2010 and received a sentence of life in prison without parole, plus 130 years. Kari pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit murder. In April 2010, a judge sentenced her to 38 years in prison, plus two years in community corrections programs.
November 9, 2001: Amanda Van Scyoc, 18, was reportedly last seen alive by her mother, Linda Warner, shortly before the elder woman left for work. Four days later, Amanda’s nude body was found by deer hunters near the Ohio River. An autopsy later revealed both that she’d been strangled to death at least three days prior to her body being found and, according to multiple news reports, semen belonging to her stepfather was collected from her remains. Despite this, no one was ever charged in connection with her death and the case is still officially listed as unsolved.
For more about Amanda’s murder, check in again later this week for the full case write-up. In the meantime, anyone with information is encouraged to contact:
Indiana State Police District Investigative Commander 19411 Highway 41 North Evansville, IN 47725 1-812-867-2079 or 1-800-852-3970
On this date in 1986, Michael “Mike” Wayne Jackson (41) shot and killed probation officer Tom Gahl during a home visit. Jackson fled, setting off a three state crime spree during which he is suspected of committing kidnappings and two other murders in his effort to evade law enforcement. Briefly named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, Jackson was cornered in a Wright City, Missouri barn where he ended his own life with a self-inflicted shotgun wound ten days later.
On this day in 1983, the bodies of Jamie Engelking (21), her children Jessica Brown (2) and Brandon Engelking, Jr. (1), along with family friend Amanda Davis (12), were found buried in a shallow grave in Bartholomew County. They had disappeared the previous August when Jamie took the children camping.
Robert Bassett Jr. was found guilty of the murders in 1998 and sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole. The Indiana Supreme Court later overturned that conviction, stating pre-trial publicity had tainted the jury. Bassett was tried and convicted again a couple years later.
Sometime in the late evening of September 17, 1983, the Osbourne family of Fort Wayne were bludgeoned in their home. Killed were father R. Daniel Osborne (35), his wife, Jane (34), their son, Ben (11), and the family dog. The couple’s daughter, Caroline (2), was also beaten but managed to survive. Both Jane and Caroline had been sexually assaulted. Almost unimaginably, the tragedy was not discovered for two days, during which time the toddler was left alone with the corpses of her parents and brother. When rescued, she reportedly told police “Mommy and Daddy are sleeping.”
After being charged with an unrelated crime four months later, Calvin Perry III (18), apparently confessed to killing the Osbournes. But he would never be put on trial for the crimes. Perry was found dead, hanging in his cell, within 48 hours of his incarceration. His guilt is still debated to this day.
On this day in 1897, a vengeful mob broke into the Ripley County Jail and forcibly removed five robbery suspects before lynching them. The vigilantes strung up the suspects’ naked and battered bodies from an elm tree about two blocks from the jail then dispersed a little before 1 AM. It is believed that an estimated 250 people were present during the hanging. Approximately only 800 people lived in Versailles at the time.
The lynching victims were identified as:
LYLE LEVI, 57, shot through the breast then dragged to the tree and hanged
WILLIAM JENKINS, 27, skull crushed in with a stool, noose put around neck, body dragged to the tree and suspended
HENRY SCHULER, 24, skull crushed, body dragged to the tree and suspended
CLIFFORD GORDON, 22, bound, dragged to the tree and hanged
ALBERT ANDREWS, 30, bound, dragged to the tree and hanged