Follow The Republic:
Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett speaks on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, about a probable cause affidavit identifying Samuel Sallee as the prime and only suspect in a Waynesville quadruple homicide that occurred on May 11, the day before Mother's Day.
Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett said he promised the families of the Mother’s Day weekend shooting victims that police would work diligently to find the person responsible.
Seven months and two days after the slayings in a Waynesville home, Gorbett said he was fulfilling that promise.
On Friday, roughly six months after being named the prime and only suspect, 56-year-old Samuel E. Sallee was charged with four counts of murder.
“This has been a long and methodical investigation,” Gorbett said.
The murder charges came quickly, though, after the sheriff’s department received ballistics results of .22-caliber rifle shell casings found at the scene of the slaying and at a Brown County property where Sallee once lived and was known to target shoot with a .22-caliber rifle.
Early in the investigation, police searched for a man identified to investigators as “Sam” who brought a .22-caliber weapon to the scene of the slayings, a home at 2634 E. Main Cross St.
Rafael Perez, forensic scientist at the Indiana State Police Regional Laboratory, met with Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett and deputies on Thursday to inform them of his completed examination of evidence.
Perez compared shell casings recovered from the scene of the killings in Waynesville with shell casings recovered from a Brown County property where Samuel E. Sallee had been known to target shoot.
Perez determined that several of the shell casings from each scene had cycled through the same weapon.
Rafael Perez, a forensic scientist with the Indiana State Police Laboratory, informed the sheriff and deputies Thursday that he had completed his examination of shell casings recovered from the two properties. Perez said that several of the Waynesville shell casings had cycled through the same weapon as several of the Brown County shell casings, according the probable-cause affidavit signed by Gorbett.
Forensic firearms experts use comparison microscopes to check markings on shell casings, said Mitzi Templeton, a forensic firearms and tool mark examiner at the Indiana State Police Regional Laboratory in Evansville. Comparison microscopes have one eyepiece and two scopes, which allow two bullets or shells to be viewed at the same time.
Firearms manufacturers will determine markings that will be consistent with all models of a weapon, but each firearm has unique, individual markings that make them distinctive, similar to a fingerprint, Templeton said.
Other evidence was sent to the laboratory for analysis, too, such as fibers and DNA.
“We don’t have final reports from everybody, but we have our hands wrapped around all the evidence,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. Greg Duke said.
Local authorities could afford to take their time on filing formal charges because Sallee has been in federal custody since Aug. 5, when U.S. marshals jailed him on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm after serving a battery sentence in Brown County.
A May 29 federal indictment says that law enforcement officials discovered that Sallee possessed a Ruger, Model 10/22, .22-caliber rifle with the serial number 157425. The federal complaint says that a .22-rifle was found May 14 by detectives in the rafters of a detached garage at a Columbus house where Sallee was living.
Gorbett said it was important that investigators followed the evidence and there wasn’t a rush to judgment, although it can be a lengthy and cumbersome process, he said.
The sheriff said he’s confident that evidence shows Sallee is responsible for the killings.
“There’s no question we’ve got the right person here,” Gorbett said.
Don't settle for a preview.
Subscribe today to see the full story!
All comments are moderated before posting. Your email address must be verified with Disqus in order for your comment to appear.
View our commenting guidelines and FAQ's here.
All content copyright ©2014 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.