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Waynesville quadruple homicide: Grieving families react

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Brown County Jail Commander Tony Sciscoe escorts slaying suspect Samuel E. Sallee on July 1 to the Brown County Courthouse. Sallee was charged Friday with murder in the Bartholomew County deaths of four people May 11 in a Waynesville home. FILE PHOTO
Brown County Jail Commander Tony Sciscoe escorts slaying suspect Samuel E. Sallee on July 1 to the Brown County Courthouse. Sallee was charged Friday with murder in the Bartholomew County deaths of four people May 11 in a Waynesville home. FILE PHOTO

The son of one of the four people killed in a quadruple homicide in Waynesville said he believes that the man charged with murder should be executed if found guilty.

Samuel E. Sallee was charged with four counts of murder Friday by Prosecutor Bill Nash following a seven-month investigation led by the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

“That guy killed my whole family,” said Daniel Burton, the son of Katheryn Burton. “I think I’ve earned a front-row seat to watch him die. I’d lump him together with Hitler, because I can’t think of anyone else who is that evil. “

Similar sentiments were expressed by the widow of victim Aaron Cross.

“As brutal and heinous as it was, I’m like Daniel. I’d be there to watch (the execution) in a heartbeat,” Kelly Cross said. “He’s ruined so many lives, and affected generations of families. He showed no mercy for the four people he slaughtered, and I don’t think any should be shown to him.”

On the night of May 11, Daniel Burton returned home to discover the bodies of Thomas Smith, who lived with Daniel and his mother, and Cross in the living room.

When police arrived 12 minutes later, after Daniel Burton had called 911, they discovered a third body in the living room, that of Shawn Burton, and finally the body of Katheryn Burton in a bedroom.

Daniel Burton said he is experiencing mixed feelings.

“I feel relieved, but at the same time, I have apprehensions,” he said. “I know the trial will be very emotional and taxing. When that’s over, that’s when I’ll get my release and my peace.”

In recalling the night that he found the bodies, Burton remembered how the timing tore at his already fragile emotional state.

“I spent all of Mother’s Day in shock over my mom’s death, answering police questions. It was Mother’s Day, but they wouldn’t let me see her. I remember just having to settle for looking at old pictures of her,” he said.

Burton said it was almost two weeks before he began to come out of shock. He added that the experiences of the past seven months have hardened him.

“It’s made me very cold, compared to what I used to be,” Burton said. “I used to be able to watch Lifetime (network) movies with my mom and cry with her, but I can’t do that anymore.”

In an effort to find relief, Burton has recently begun undergoing therapy for what he said he feels is a condition similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. However, he still wants to retain a degree of toughness as the case against Sallee moves forward.

“I’m still going through a lot, and it has taken it’s toll on me,” Burton said. “It seems everyone is betting on me going broke or going insane. But I want to tell them I’m going to be OK.”

The formal charges against Sallee will help bring closure to Kelly Cross’ family, she said, but she doesn’t believe there will ever be complete closure. But the charges bring a different form of satisfaction, she said.

“At least now, when Sallee goes to sleep and wakes up in his jail cell, he’s going to know every day he’s there for killing my husband and three other people,” Cross said.

Cross said she spent several weeks after her husband’s death in fear and seclusion. Her greatest concern was drawing attention to herself, which she feared might endanger her sons, Dylan Burton, 22, and Hunter Cross, who is only 3.

“Nobody knew who did it, why, or how many people were involved,” Cross said.

Today, Cross said she believes she and her two sons are safe and feels confident Sallee is the sole killer.

But she has maintained her anger for seven months against those who accused her husband of being a drug dealer.

“My husband was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Cross said. “I still have no idea what other reason this man might have for murdering my husband in cold blood.”

While her family was still coping with their loss, their grief was deepened after Alton Cross, the father of her late husband, died in August.

“It was like a double whammy,” Cross said.

Since Alton Cross was instrumental in helping young Hunter, the grandfather’s death has been especially hard on the little boy, Cross said. She said the 3-year-old still asks about his dad everyday.

But both Kelly Cross and Daniel Burton say they feel nothing but love for the family and friends who have helped them through the worst year of their lives.

“It seems like every time I need something, family and friends have provided it for me, “ Daniel Burton said. “People I don’t even know have been like that. It’s heartwarming to see the community reach out that way.”

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