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Klug: Voices on TV said ‘time to kill’


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Two court-appointed psychiatric experts who evaluated confessed murderer Ryan Klug described a descent into schizophrenia and paranoia that caused him to obey a voice from a television telling him to kill his roommate.

The former engineer realized he was “losing control” and told that to Indianapolis forensic psychologist Dr. Don A. Olive.

On Nov. 17, 2013, the day Klug is accused of murdering his roommate, Adaobi Obih, Klug said he “felt like he had been unplugged from the matrix. He felt as if he would die if he didn’t do something,” psychiatrist Dr. George F. Parker wrote in his report to the Bartholomew County Circuit Court.

Klug is accused of strangling Obih, then slitting her throat and stabbing her through the heart, court documents state.

The victim, a Cummins engineer, was found in her Riverstone apartment two days later by apartment maintenance personnel who checked it after Obih’s family members reported they could not reach her.

The psychiatric reports had been sealed but became public record when Klug pleaded guilty but mentally ill April 3 to Obih’s murder.

Klug’s sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

Olive and Parker declined interview requests. Attempts to reach Klug’s family were unsuccessful.

How they met

Obih had used the website Craigslist to find a roommate and allowed Klug to move into her apartment on Columbus’ west side about six months before the murder, court documents said.

Klug had taken a new job as an engineer with the Indiana Department of Transportation in February 2013, and decided to move in with Obih as a platonic roommate because he did not wish to commute from Indianapolis, according to Parker’s report.

Klug told Olive that his symptoms of psychosis started a month or two before the murder, with the symptoms increasing over time, Olive’s report states.

Klug was taking psychiatric medication until March 2013, when his job started at INDOT, according to Parker’s report. But Klug stopped taking the medication because it “interfered with his job” and slowed him down, Parker wrote. However, about two months before the murder, Klug began to get “messages from billboards and television and began to develop paranoia,” Parker wrote.

In Olive’s report, Klug said as his symptoms worsened, his job at INDOT went from a fun place to a stressful place to work in a short period of time.

“The voices I was hearing were mocking me,” Klug told Olive, referring to his INDOT co-workers.

In the two weeks before Obih was murdered, Klug began experiencing extreme stress that resulted in insomnia and the most intense paranoia Klug had ever experienced, Olive wrote.

A few days before the murder, he believed the television was telling him “it’s time to kill,” according to Olive’s report.

The day of the murder, Klug decided to go to church but fell into a panic, Olive’s report said.

He told the psychologist he believed the pastor gave him a different kind of communion wafer and that the congregation was singing from the wrong page in the hymnal, Olive wrote.

After staying for Bible study, Klug returned to the apartment, made lunch and began watching a football game on TV, the psychologist’s report stated. When Klug found himself thinking about Obih, Klug heard a message from the television that he interpreted as “Kill her ... time to kill,” according to Olive’s report.

None of it was premeditated, Klug told Olive.

The only way to stop the TV message was to obey it, Klug told Olive, according to his report.

Halfway through the football game, Obih returned to the apartment from church, wrapped a blanket around herself and told Klug she felt like a zombie because she was moving so slowly, Olive’s report states.

When Obih went to her room for a moment and then returned, Klug told the psychiatrist he thought she was holding a knife, Olive wrote. He yelled at Obih, “Drop the knife! Nobody needs to die.”

Klug told the psychiatric experts that the knife startled him so much that he got up and choked Obih until she stopped struggling.

Klug then dragged Obih across the room and used a knife to slit her throat, he told Olive, also telling him “that was the way to kill her.”

The television was on throughout the murder, and Klug claimed he continued to receive messages from it telling him to kill Obih, according to Olive’s report.

“I attacked her heart, stabbed through the chest. I realized she was dead. I packed up my clothes and I left,” he told Olive according to the report.

When Olive asked Klug why he left, he replied, “I never killed anyone ... it was a scary situation.”

Klug then decided to try to escape to east Texas, according to the psychiatric evaluations.

Klug took a shower, changed his clothes and packed, then texted his INDOT supervisor that he would be on vacation from his engineering job for two weeks. The psychiatric report said he also drove to an automated teller machine to withdraw money before leaving Columbus.

Parker wrote in his report that Klug told him he did not want to leave any trail or get caught, and he did not wish to clean up a bloody body.

“He reported feeling terrible and that he had nothing to gain and everything to lose by committing the offense,” Parker wrote of Klug’s statement.

Parker wrote that Klug was competent to stand trial and to understand the charges against him.

Klug’s efforts to keep from getting caught by leaving Columbus, notifying his supervisor he was on vacation, and some efforts to clean up evidence in the apartment indicate he was aware of the wrongfulness of his conduct, Olive wrote in his report.

Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash agreed.

“Klug did not meet both prongs necessary to succeed in an insanity defense, and under the law, he is to be sentenced in exactly the same way as he would have been sentenced if he had been found guilty but not mentally ill,” Nash said.

The agreement Klug signed allows Circuit Judge Stephen Heimann to sentence Klug to between 45 to 65 years in prison.

The prosecutor said he plans to seek a longer sentence.

Klug told Olive he first began experiencing feelings of regret for killing Obih while in the Bartholomew County Jail.

While Klug felt his apartment mate had acted strangely a few weeks prior to her death, Klug said he never stopped thinking Obih was a nice person, Olive wrote in his report.

“I think it’s terrible,” Klug told Olive during the evaluation. “She did not deserve to die.”

But Klug added he felt equally bad that he had thrown away his career, Olive wrote.

“I could’ve called police (after the murder),” Klug said to Olive, but Klug didn’t because “I was scared ... scared of getting arrested, getting caught. I really didn’t think too much about that at the time. I just wanted to get away from the apartment, all the blood on the floor and the dead body.”

Klug, who was placed back on his medications after being returned to Bartholomew County on Dec. 11, told Olive he can now watch television in jail without hearing special messages. But he also said he gets daily anxiety attacks, the report said.

“I don’t like being cooped up in the cell,” Klug told Olive. “But I shower, exercise, and eat peanut butter. Overall, I’m doing pretty well.”

Timeline

2013

Nov. 17: Adaobi M. Obih, 26, is choked and stabbed to death in her apartment in the River Stone Apartments on Columbus’ westside, just east of Tipton Lakes.

Nov. 19: Two days after her death, the body of Obih, employed as an engineer with Cummins Inc., is discovered by a maintenance worker after inquiries are made by family and friends. Her missing apartment mate, Ryan A. Klug, 36, is identified as a “person of interest” by investigators.

Nov. 20: After an autopsy confirms the cause of death, which includes a slit throat, a formal murder charge is filed against Klug, enabling a nationwide manhunt to commence.

Nov. 23: Klug is arrested outside a bar in Galveston, Texas. Extradition hearings begin to bring Klug back to Bartholomew County.

Dec. 11: Klug is returned from Texas and is ordered held without bond in the Bartholomew County Jail.

Dec. 12: Initial hearing for Klug held in Bartholomew Circuit Court. Judge Stephen Heimann tentatively schedules a change of plea hearing for April 28 and a May 13 trial date.

2014

Jan. 30: Defense attorney David Nowak notifies the court he intends to use a defense of mental disease or defect for Klug.

Feb. 4: Heimann issues order appointing two Indianapolis psychiatric experts,

Dr. George F. Parker and Dr. Don A. Olive, to examine Klug. Parker examines Klug on Feb. 24. Parker meets the defendant March 10 and 11.

March 18: Confidential evaluations from both mental health professionals are received and filed with the court.

April 1: Nowak notifies the court and Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash that Klug is willing to accept a plea bargain where he will plead guilty to murder, but mentally ill.

April 3: During a hearing, Heimann formally accepts the agreement, which will allow the judge to sentence Klug to between 45 to 65 years in prison at his discretion. In exchange, Klug will be provided psychiatric treatment through the Indiana Department of Correction.

Psychological evaluations

After evaluating Ryan Klug earlier this year, Indianapolis psychiatrist Dr. George F. Parker diagnosed the self-confessed killer of Adaobi Obih as suffering from schizophrenia, a mental disorder that makes it hard to:

  • Tell difference between what is real and not real
  • Think clearly
  • Have normal emotional responses
  • Act normally in social situations

Another psychologist who interviewed Klug, Don A. Olive, wrote that he observed the following symptoms in Klug that may have been a factor in the murder:

  • Narcissistic personality disorder: An excessive preoccupation with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity
  • Abandonment rage: Possibly caused by the death of Klug’s mother during his teen years, as well as having a sense of isolation after moving to a large city far from his home
  • Displaced aggression: Retaliation against a seemingly innocent target when you feel you can’t directly fight back against someone who is provoking you
  • Borderline personality disorder: A strong tendency to act impulsively, as well as being unstable in actions, interpersonal relationships and self-image
  • Stress-related paranoid ideation: The creation of new ideas or thoughts heavily influenced by anxiety or fear
  • Lack of empathy

What’s next

Ryan Klug, 37, a former state highway engineer, is scheduled to be sentenced on one count of felony murder at 1:30 p.m. Thursday by Bartholomew Circuit Judge Stephen Heimann.

On April 3, Klug pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the death of his 26-year-old apartment mate, Cummins engineer Adaobi Obih, on Nov. 17, 2013.

While a plea bargain assures that Klug will receive psychiatric care with the Indiana Department of Corrections, Heimann could still sentence Klug to between 45 and 65 years in prison, as well as order fines of up to $10,000, according to sentencing guidelines.

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