|Wed, Oct 01, 2014 01:59 PM
|Issue of September 24, 2014
August 07, 2013 | 10:15 AM
Two 18-year-old males are behind bars in Floyd County after allegedly murdering a Harrison County couple Saturday morning in what police say was a robbery that went wrong. Formal murder charges were filed in Harrison Superior Court yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), and the suspects are expected to arrive in Harrison County for their initial hearing sometime in the next 48 hours, Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said.
Schalk said yesterday during a press conference that he's weighing the death penalty for the suspects.
Schuler (click for larger version)
Scott (click for larger version)
"One of the single most important decisions that I'm tasked with as prosecutor is choosing whether or not to seek the death penalty for an individual, even more so for an 18-year-old. Capital punishment must be reserved for those individuals whose crimes exhibit truly the worst of human nature," Schalk said. "At this point, I would say seeking the death penalty is strongly being considered. However, I will not make such a decision arbitrarily ... "
According to Chief Wayne Kessinger of the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept., who interviewed the suspects, in the early morning hours Saturday, Kevin (Drew) Schuler, of the 11900 block of Nadorff Road in Greenville, and Austin Bryan Nelson Chancelor Scott, who resides in New Albany, were riding a four-wheeler that was sputtering and running low on fuel. They stopped at a house along Nadorff Road to try and get some gasoline but decided the house was too close to the road and moved on to look for fuel at a home in the 9100 block of Walk Drive near Greenville.
According to a family member of one of the victim's, a neighbor reported seeing Schuler on the Walk Drive property sometime Friday; when the neighbor asked what he was doing, Schuler allegedly drove off.
Police said Schuler and Scott did eventually enter the home of Asenath (Senie) Arnold, 57, and Gary L. Henderson, 70. The front door lock appeared to have been broken in, and the rear door was unlocked, so it's unclear as to which door the pair used to gain access, Kessinger said.
Kessinger said one of the suspects lived nearby and may have known the victims. Yesterday, Schalk said Schuler had helped cut wood for Henderson.
An employee of the victims' carriage ride business, Welcome Home Horse Carriages, arrived at the couple's home Saturday morning and was preparing horses for pony rides later that day. The employee noticed that neither victim had emerged from the home after calling multiple times and she went inside at about 11 a.m. to investigate. That's when the employee found Arnold's body and called police. After arriving, police went inside the house to do a sweep to make sure no one else was inside, and that's when Henderson's body was found upstairs.
Kessinger said both victims were in separate bedrooms in the home, with Arnold having been beaten to death with a wooden part of a horse harness, called a single tree, and Henderson having received 23 stab wounds to his body on the second floor. Stab wounds were also found on Arnold's body.
During interviews with police, Scott allegedly said he used a fixed-blade knife he was carrying with him to kill Henderson, and Schuler described how he punched Arnold in the face and struck her in the head with a wooden stick. An autopsy at the Jefferson County (Ky.) Medical Examiner's Office revealed that Henderson died as a result of sharp force injuries to his chest and head while Arnold died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
"It was a senseless, heinous, gruesome beating of a defenseless elderly couple," Kessinger said. "He was in his 70s, and she used a walker to get around. It was just totally senseless. Two people are dead over a gallon of gas, a few guns and a little money."
Kessinger, who has investigated hundreds of homicides in a law enforcement career that has spanned several decades, said the murders Saturday ranked in the top three of any he's investigated in terms of heinousness.
He also said that the case had all the earmarks of being a unsolved case — no witnesses, committed in a rural area — until there was a lucky break later that day.
Kessinger said that Schuler and Scott went to Scott's home in New Albany. For an unknown reason, Scott's twin brother, Justin, struck Schuler in the left eye. Austin Scott fired a gun in response, causing someone to call the New Albany Police Dept. to report an altercation and shots fired. Schuler and Scott fled the scene in a red pick-up truck, but not before the person who reported the ruckus described to police the type of vehicle they were in.
Officers located the vehicle and questioned the occupants. Upon searching the vehicle, police located large amounts of prescription medications and three guns that both teens allegedly admitted came from the murder scene in Harrison County. According to the probable cause affidavit filed in Harrison County, during the traffic stop Scott allegedly told NAPD officers that he and Schuler had been involved in the killing of an elderly man somewhere off of Nadorff Road.
"That was a huge break in the case and allowed us to tie it all together. I can't say enough about the outside help from the New Albany Police Dept., the Floyd County Sheriff's Dept. and the Indiana State Police crime scene techs," Kessinger said. "I've worked with the belief that 80 percent of solving a case is the effectiveness of the investigation and knowledge and 20 percent is luck. In this case, luck played a little bigger role. Forensics at the scene would have probably eventually led us to these two, but that would have taken quite some time."
As of press time, Scott and Schuler were being held at the Floyd County Jail after having their first day in court on Monday. Cash bond was set at $500,000 for Scott, and $50,000 for Schuler. (Scott's is higher due to his charges; see below.) Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said the large bond amounts were intentional to keep the two behind bars until Harrison County had a chance to file charges yesterday.
In Harrison County, Schuler and Scott are both being charged with three counts of murder (one each for the deaths and another because murder was committed while in the act of burglary, which is a separate offense), and single felony counts of Class A felony robbery and burglary and Class D felony theft.
In Floyd County, Schuler is being held on two counts of Class D felony theft, Class D felony possession of a controlled substance and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license. Scott was charged with Class C felony criminal recklessness for discharging the handgun, Class D felony receiving stolen property and possession of controlled substance and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license.
The murder weapons were located and collected as evidence and much of the stolen property was recovered.
Schuler's criminal record in Floyd County includes a domestic battery charge in 2010 and five felony drug charges in one case this year. Schuler's drug case is still pending in Floyd Superior Court.
Scott's only criminal record in Floyd County is a charge of illegal consumption of alcoholic beverage by a minor. That case was decided last month.
Also assisting in the case was the Harrison County Prosecutor's Office.