WAYNESVILLE, Ind. — Residents of a small Indiana town are taking steps to protect themselves after a vicious weekend killing that left four people dead in what authorities said was a drug-related crime.
No arrests have been made since the bodies were found Saturday night in Waynesville, a small community about five miles south of Columbus, Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett told reporters during a news conference Tuesday.
Gorbett said police found methamphetamine at the brick house, along with spent shell casings and a knife used in one of the slayings. A rifle also was recovered, but police said they didn't know whether it was tied to the killings of 53-year-old Katheryn Burton, her longtime boyfriend, Thomas Smith, 39, and two friends, Aaron Cross and Shawn Burton, both 41-year-old Columbus residents.
Katheryn Burton's son, Daniel Burton, 27, found the bodies about 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He reported his discovery to police in a chilling 911 call, saying the house had been ransacked, items had been stolen and that there were two bodies on the floor.
"I just walked in and I had two bodies here. I think they've both been shot – there's blood everywhere," he said, sounding breathless. "I'm not even sure if this is real right now, man."
He said there might be more victims because the door to the bedroom was locked.
"My mom's in the bedroom and I can't get in," he told the dispatcher. "I'm pretty sure she's probably dead too."
County Coroner Larry Fisher said Katheryn Burton had been shot and stabbed multiple times. The other victims all had multiple gunshot wounds.
Contacted later by phone, Fisher declined to disclose how many times the woman was stabbed. Asked if her body was mutilated, he said: "That's kind of hard to define ... It was very vicious."
Gorbett said investigators believe the deaths are drug-related but didn't elaborate. He said police have interviewed two people of interest but said Daniel Burton was not considered a suspect.
The slayings have rattled the neighborhood, where tidy homes on one end of the street give way to dilapidated houses with pit bulls chained outside.
April Spires, 28, moved to the unincorporated town of about 950 residents last August from Columbus. She shares a home with her boyfriend and their two children about a block from the scene of the killings.
"It's really kinda quiet. You see kids out playing. It seemed to be a really good neighborhood," she said.
Now, she's keeping her two pit bulls in the house instead of outside for protection.
Spires said the slayings occurred not far from a memorial set up to remember victims of a 1998 quadruple homicide in the community.
"It is kind of creepy, but you've got to remember, not everybody's bad," Spires said.