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Waynesville quadruple homicide: How the case unfolded


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10:39 p.m. May 11

Daniel Burton calls 911 hotline, saying he came home to discover bodies in the living room of his home at 2634 E. Main Cross St. in Waynesville.

10:51 p.m. May 11

Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputies arrive at the scene and see four bodies — three men and one women — fatally shot. The woman’s body, sheriff’s deputies later say, also was stabbed multiple times.

3 p.m. May 12

Sheriff Mark Gorbett identifies the victims as Katheryn M. Burton, 53, and Thomas W. Smith, 39, both of whom lived at the East Main Cross Street address; and Aaron T. Cross, 41, and Shawn L. Burton, 40, both of Columbus.

May 13

Autopsies begin on the bodies. That evening, Samuel E. Sallee, then 55, is arrested in Columbus on a Brown County warrant unrelated to the slayings. Sheriff’s deputies also search a home where Sallee was living in at 380 Parkway Drive; a pickup truck at the residence is taken away.

May 14

Investigators reveal all four victims of the attack were shot in the head in addition to other injuries. Police release the contents of Burton’s 911 call in which he says upon discovering some of the bodies: “I’m not sure this is real, man. They’re covered in blood, covered

in blood.”

Investigators execute a search warrant at 380 Parkway Drive, Columbus, where Sallee had been living with a friend. They later reveal finding a .22-caliber rifle and some jewelry they think went missing from the Waynesville home where the foursome died.

May 15

A charge of receiving stolen property is lodged against Sallee, but after 48 hours the Bartholomew County prosecutor does not issue formal charges in that case, and the charges disappear.

May 17

Sallee is transferred to the Brown County jail to stand trial on what starts out as a felony charge of battery resulting in bodily injury. That case relates to a

Feb. 27 incident in which Sallee is accused of hitting his brother-in-law in the head with a paddle.

May 29

Federal authorities indict Sallee for being a felon in possession of a firearm for having a .22-caliber rifle at his home in Columbus around the time of the slayings. The federal charges are kept under seal in federal court until mid-June when they are finally announced publicly by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

June 17

Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett calls Sallee the “prime and only suspect at this time” in the May 11 shooting deaths.

June 18

Bartholomew County Prosecutor William Nash said there is no risk to public safety, and he prefers to let the ongoing homicide investigation of the Waynesville case proceed rather than rush to file formal charges against anyone at this point. He confirms that Sallee has become a “prime suspect.”

July 29

Sallee and his attorney strike a plea bargain on the battery charge that dates to February. It is reduced to a misdemeanor, and Sallee must serve six months in jail with credit for time already served. As a result, he is due to be released six days later from Brown County Jail.

Aug. 5

Sallee completes his Brown County sentence but is taken into custody by U.S. marshals on a federal indictment of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The weapon, a .22-rifle, was found May 14 by detectives in the rafters of a garage at the house where Sallee was living.

Aug. 7

Sallee waives his rights to a federal detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on the gun charge. He will stay in federal custody at an undisclosed location until trial, officials said.

Aug. 30

Eric K. Koselke makes his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis as Sallee’s new attorney. He replaces U.S. District Court public defender Gwendolyn M. Beitz. Sallee had asked the court for a new lawyer, citing a conflict of interest and a lack of experience by Beitz. At that point, Sallee’s Oct. 7 trial was delayed until March 24.

Friday, Dec. 13

Sallee is charged with murder in the deaths of Katheryn Burton, Thomas W. Smith, Aaron T. Cross and Shawn

L. Burton.

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