Murder charge filed against stabbing suspect

The Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a felony murder charge against Daniel J. Denny, 19, of 1075 Robert Drive Apartment B, saying in court documents that Denny admitted at the scene to stabbing one of his roommates multiple times, resulting in his death.

The case, filed Monday in Bartholomew Circuit Court, alleges that Denny used a kitchen knife to stab Eric Cavanaugh, 19, of 1075 Robert Drive, Apartment B, multiple times, according to the probable cause affidavit.

On June 1, Columbus police officers were sent to the apartment complex after two roommates of the suspect and victim heard screaming coming from the downstairs area of the apartment at Quail Run and called 911, the affidavit states.

One of the roommates witnessed the stabbing, telling police, "I came downstairs and I walked in and Daniel was standing above him with the knife in his hand and stabbed him again,” according to the affidavit.

Another roommate, who locked himself and another person inside a bedroom and called 911, told police that “Denny began shaking the door and tried to talk to him,” the affidavit states.

When police arrived at the scene at 5:56 a.m. June 1, officers asked Denny and another roommate about who had done the stabbing — and Denny raised his hand and said, "It was me," the affidavit states.

Police found Cavanaugh alive and face down in his room with what appeared to be multiple knife wounds on multiple areas of his body, according to the affidavit.

Police also found a bloody knife in the kitchen sink and blood on Denny’s clothes, court records state.

Cavanaugh told officers at the scene and in route to Columbus Regional Hospital that Denny had stabbed him with what he described as a steak knife, the affidavit states.

"It wasn’t a fight. I was talking to him," Cavanaugh told police, referring to Denny. In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Cavanaugh told police that Denny talked about "why he was going to hurt me."

Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said Cavanaugh was pronounced dead at 7:01 a.m. Tuesday at Columbus Regional Hospital. An autopsy at Columbus Regional Hospital revealed that Cavanaugh died of multiple sharp force injuries to his back and chest, believed to have been inflicted by a chef’s knife, Nolting said. Nolting ruled Cavanaugh’s manner of death to be homicide.

Cavanaugh was a member of the 2020 graduating class of Columbus East High School and was employed at AMC Theatre in Columbus. He was a Boy Scout, enjoyed camping and was interested in manga and anime.

Denny has been incarcerated without bond at the Bartholomew County Jail since his arrest, according to jail records.

The probable cause affidavit states that Denny had lived with four other roommates, including Cavanaugh, for two to four months. One of the roommates who is listed as a witness said he had known Cavanaugh and Denny since kindergarten.

Tiffani Denny, Daniel Denny’s mother, said her son has lived in Columbus all his life and attended Smith and Parkside elementary schools, North Middle School and graduated from Columbus North High School in 2020.

Daniel Denny had been hospitalized for mental health issues eight different times since 2019 in facilities in Columbus and Bloomington, his mother said. She said the last time family members had heard from Daniel Denny was in March, and they did not know where he was living or have contact with him after that.

He was being held in the Bartholomew County Jail without bond, according to jail officials.

When asked if Daniel Denny was being held in isolation, jail officials said they could not reveal his status due to privacy regulations, but that the county’s contract with a health care provider requires that all individuals booked into the jail receive a physical and mental health evaluation, and decisions about where and how the individual is incarcerated are made from that recommendation.