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4 victims identified in Waynesville shootings

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WAYNESVILLE, Ind. — The names of four individuals, discovered in a Waynesville home Saturday night after they were shot to death, were identified Sunday afternoon.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett said the victims were Katheryn Burton, 53, and Thomas W. Smith, 39, who lived at 2634 E. Main Cross St., where the bodies were found; and Aaron T. Cross, 41, and Shawn L. Burton, 40, both of Columbus.

Gorbett said Daniel Burton, 27, who lived at the home with his mother, discovered the scene when he returned from work at 10:39 p.m. Saturday.

He called 911 and was told by dispatchers to leave the home until deputies could arrive, which occurred at 10:51 p.m.

A search of the home by officers revealed the four bodies, Gorbett said. The three men were found dead in the living room and the homeowner was found dead in a bedroom, and all of them appeared to have been shot, Gorbett said.

The Rev. Gary Carroll, pastor at Waynesville Chapel Mercy Missionary Baptist Church about a half-block away, said he saw flashing lights outside the home about 11 p.m. Saturday. He had no indication there had been trouble at the scene of the homicide.

"I was home but the flashing red lights were the only thing that got me to come outside," Carroll said.

Carroll, who's been with the congregation of 20-30 members for about two years and lives next door to it, said he only knew the crime scene's residents in passing — enough to wave when he saw them down the street. He said they seemed like nice people.

With police outside Saturday night, he offered the church building for officers to use as a temporary command center. Carroll initially planned to mention the tragedy in his 11 a.m. message to the congregation Sunday morning, but the service was cancelled.

Carroll said he and other neighbors were still up at about 3 a.m., as police worked at the scene.

A woman who visited the scene shortly after 7:30 a.m. said she knew Katheryn Burton. Bartholomew County property tax records  indicate that Burton owned the home.

The woman, who declined to give her name, said she went to school with Burton.

About 7:45 a.m., two deputies entered the home with an empty cardboard box, which was to be used to collect evidence from the scene. The word "rifle" and an image of a rifle was on the outside of the box.

Onlookers and members of the media have been kept about 100 yards from the crime scene.

Beverly Nichols, who lives with her husband Terry about a block and one-half away from the crime scene, said at about 9 a.m. Sunday that she was mowing the grass for a friend directly across the street from the homicide scene Saturday afternoon, and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

Earlier in the day Saturday, a neighbor across from the homicide scene had a medical problem that required an ambulance and patrol car in the neighborhood, Beverly Nichols said. When Nichols saw the flashing emergency lights at the homicide scene Saturday night, she thought at first that an ambulance had been called again for the neighbor's illness, she said.

"Last night, when we went to bed and saw the lights, we thought maybe something had happened to her," Nichols said.

The Nicholses said they had not heard any gun shots, but their windows were closed overnight. The Nicholses also said they did not know the people who lived in the house where the shootings occurred.

Shortly before 9 a.m., police could be seen marking evidence in the driveway of the home where the shootings occurred, as well as in the street near the homicide scene.

Gorbett said at 3 p.m. that no suspects had been arrested.

Saturday's quadruple homicide brought back memories for local citizens of a crime from about 14 years ago, when the bodies of four people were also found in Waynesville.

Discovered in shallow graves beside East Fork White River were the bodies of Seymour resident Jamie Engleking, 20; her children, Jessica Brown, 2, and Brandon Engleking, 1; and family friend Amanda Davis, 12, in September 1998. Robert J. Bassett Jr. was convicted of the four murders.

Waynesville is an unincorporated town in southern Bartholomew County, located off State Road 11 about seven miles south of Columbus.

Look for more details of this developing story in Monday editions of The Republic and The Tribune.


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