The man who called police to report the whereabouts of Samuel E. Sallee two days after the Waynesville quadruple slayings in 2013 testified Thursday about suspicious things he saw around his property.
Sallee is the 57-year-old Columbus man who faces life without parole if convicted of the May 11, 2013, deaths of Katheryn M. Burton, 53; Thomas W. Smith, 39; Aaron T. Cross, 41; and Shawn L. Burton, 40. All four victims were shot to death in the home owned by Katheryn Burton on East Main Cross Street in Waynesville.
Malcolm England told the jury that prior to the slayings, he agreed to allow Sallee to stay on his property at 380 Parkway Drive, Columbus, in exchange for remodeling his bathroom.
From the night of the killings until his arrest two days later, Sallee had stayed in the garage while England was inside the home, he said.
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While Sallee had made little progress in remodeling, England said the defendant brought him a tenderloin sandwich and repaid him a debt of $50 within an hour of the time when both the defense and prosecution agreed Sallee left the Burton home in Waynesville on the day of the slayings.
“He said something to me like ‘See, I treat you right. I brought you a sandwich’,” England told the jury.
The next day, England saw Sallee use his washing machine to clean both rubber gloves and the shoes he was wearing the day the four people died, England testified.
In addition, he witnessed the defendant using bleach to clean the toilet and other parts of the bathroom, England said.
It wasn’t until Monday morning that England learned about the Saturday killings in Waynesville while reading about it in The Republic, he said.
When England showed Sallee the newspaper and asked if he knew any of the victims, Sallee seemed to dodge the questions, England said.
England said he became suspicious and decided to search the garage where Sallee had been spending most of his time.
In the rafters, he first came across a box of homemade Led Zeppelin CDs that were later identified to have Katheryn Burton’s handwriting on them, as well as various gun parts, England said.
The witness also testified that he discovered archery equipment in his covered antique car, as well as metal shavings on the garage floor.
But England said the strangest item he came across was a cardboard box containing blow-in foam insulation.
Hours later, after England had called police and gave them permission to search his home, that same box was found in a garbage toter in front of a neighboring vacant house, according to court documents.
Investigators later found the wallets of the three male victims encased within the foam insulation. None of the wallets contained cash, investigators had earlier testified.
Out of all the witnesses called to that point by the prosecution team, England received the most inquiries from the 16 jury members.
Nine separate questions were submitted to England from jurors before he was allowed to step off the witness stand.
Their questions ranged from how often Sallee did laundry and cleaned the bathroom to clarifications on the defendant’s demeanor the weekend of the killings.
Sharon McElroy, a 16th Street resident who was Sallee’s girlfriend at the time of the killings, testified that she talked on the telephone to Sallee at 7:15 p.m. and 8:23 p.m. the night of the killings.
Sallee said he was working for “Gabby,” and would see her as soon as he finished, she said.
McElroy also testified that on the day before the killings, her former boyfriend was so broke that he asked her to give him $10 for gasoline.
However, he had more than $100 the day after the killings that he spent on automotive paint and other items at a local store, McElroy said.
When his girlfriend asked Sallee where he got the money, he replied he had just been paid for freelance landscaping work he did for “Gabby.”
The defendant had said the same thing to England when Sallee repaid him $50 that same night, England had earlier testified.
But “Gabby,” whose full name is Estal Gabbard Jr. of rural Elizabethtown, told the jury he had last paid Sallee $100 on April 29 — nearly two weeks before the killings.
Gabbard testified that he had no contact with Sallee nor provided him with any money for 12 days prior to the bodies being discovered.