Events leading up to fatal 2015 shooting and aftermath recalled by defendant Mathis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 06:15

The machinations of a heinous plan to end of the life of an elderly man were recounted by Jacob Wayne Mathis, one of the young defendants in the Bill Albert Reynolds murder.

Local hospital's parking lot used for drug sale that landed couple in county jail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10:26



A Madison couple has been charged with dealing in a controlled substance after allegedly selling an undercover informant several prescription pills while parked at Scott Memorial Hospital in Scottsburg.

Scottsburg Patrolman Troy Ford received a tip on September 9 that Robert L. “Bobby” Estep, 53, had been selling prescription medicine in Austin and Scottsburg. Purportedly, the pills came from a prescription given to his wife, Judy M. Estep, 60.

The informant was given marked money to attempt a “buy.” Ptl. Ford watched from a distance as a silver Chevrolet pulled into the hospital parking lot. The informant talked to the driver, who he said sold him 13 Tramadol, a medicine used to treat minor pain. The informant said he asked for ten pills, but he said Bobby Estep told him he couldn't make change for the $50 offered to him. The informant said Judy Estep reached under the passenger seat and got out three more pills from a prescription bottle.

When the couple was stopped later, Ptl. Ford said the bottle was found under the seat. The $50 was found in the woman's possession by the officer.

The Esteps had brief initial hearings before Judge Roger Duvall on Tuesday morning, September 13. The Level 5 felony charge each faces has been elevated to a Level 4 felony because the Prosecutor's Office filed a Notice of Prior Offense against each of the defendants.

Bobby Estep has been convicted of dealing in a controlled substance in 2004 and 2012; his wife carries old charges from 2005 and 2008. All occurred in Scott County.

Additionally, each was found to be on probation, Bobby Estep until March 9, 2018, and Judy Estep until July 6, 2018. Consequently, each is now being held without bail for 15 days.

Judge Duvall assigned public defenders for the couple and set an initial trial date of December 13 for each. In both cases, bail was set at $50,000 by corporate surety bond or $10,000 cash.



Motorists, cyclist among injured in investigated accidents in city and county PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10:24



A total of five people were injured in three recent accidents that have happened recently, all on U.S. Highway 31.

The first occurred Tuesday afternoon, August 30, at County Line Road in Underwood. A second accident took place on Monday, September 5, south of Scott Memorial Hospital.

On Tuesday afternoon, August 30, a 2003 Toyota Tacoma struck the rear of a 1995 Dodge pickup truck on U.S. Highway 31 South and County Line Road.

Drivers were identified as Mark R. Amos, 55, Henryville, and James M. Bougher, 52, Charlestown.

Bougher had to abruptly brake his pickup because of a slowing vehicle in front of him, Deputy Jac Sanders was told. When he did so, Amos in the Tacoma hit the pickup's rear.

Bougher experienced neck pain after the crash and was transported by Scott County EMS to the hospital in Scottsburg as was one of his two passengers, Ty A. Hicks, 27, Charlestown, who had head pain. Another passenger in the truck, Mark Tully of Charlestown, was checked by EMS personnel at the scene. Amos was also not injured.

Property damage was estimated at up to $10,000 by Deputy Sanders. Both vehicles were removed from the scene by wrecker.

Of the six accidents worked by Scottsburg police since September 2, two involved injuries.

The first mishap occurred at 9:21 a.m. on Labor Day, September 5, on U.S. 31 North at Carla Lane.

According to information gathered by Sgt. Rodney Watts and Lt. Mike Nichols, Hans J. Boettcher, 75, Scottsburg, was cycling with southbound traffic when he was struck from behind by a 2003 Chevy Cavalier driven by Alyssa J. Collins, 18, Austin.

Boettcher suffered abrasions to a knee and lower leg, while Collins experienced abdominal pain following the accident. Both were transported by Scott County EMS to Scott Memorial Hospital just north of the accident site.

Property damage was estimated by Sgt. Watts to be up to $2,500.

On Tuesday, September 6, a crash happened on U.S. 31 South at South Lake Road. Drivers were Gregory L. Whitsitt, 29, Scottsburg, and Kevin R. Abbott, 48, Memphis.

According to statements taken from the drivers and two witnesses, Whitsitt disregarded the traffic signal at the intersection and attempted to turn left onto U.S. 31 in his 2007 Toyota Prius. Abbott was northbound and struck the Prius with his 2005 Ford F250 pickup truck. The pickup was pulling a hay baler.

Whitsitt suffered a possible upper shoulder/arm injury in the mishap. He was treated at the scene by Scott County EMS and then transported to Scott Memorial. Abbott was not injured, according to Lt. Mike Nichols' report.

The report also indicated that Whitsitt was charged with a felony.

Property damage was estimated at up to $25,000. Capt. David Hardin assisted Lt. Nichols at the scene.

Events leading up to fatal 2015 shooting and aftermath recalled by defendant Mathis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10:23



The machinations of a heinous plan to end of the life of an elderly man were recounted by Jacob Wayne Mathis, one of the young defendants in the Bill Albert Reynolds murder.

Reynolds, 69, died on September 27, 2015, after being shot once while standing at the gate of the house he owned on Slate Ford Road southeast of Scottsburg. He was allegedly shot by Kerry Ray Heald, now 23, who, along with Mathis, was purportedly hired to kill Reynolds, authorities contend.

Also named in the murder conspiracy were Johnetta Ruth Hall, 43, and her daughter, Amaris Rose Bunyard, now 20. Hall is the person who hired the two young men, according to court documents. Bunyard participated by obtaining the gun from her mother and handing it to Heald.

Mathis, now 22, has, through his attorney Steven Beardsley, entered a guilty plea to count 2 conspiracy to commit murder, a Level 1 felony. In a hearing held Tuesday, September 13, in Scott Circuit Court, Mathis was asked a series of questions by Prosecutor Jason Mount. Those questions gave the deceased man's two sons and other listeners a vivid picture of what Mathis said happened over some four to five weeks that led up to the fatal shooting of Reynolds.

Mathis said he and Heald had developed a friendship over a year or so that led to the pair becoming roommates in a Clarksville apartment complex. Heald apparently called Mathis “Little Brother” when they communicated. Heald dated Bunyard and also apparently took the lead in getting himself and Mathis hired to kill Reynolds.

Reynolds reportedly had a continuing feud with Hall over the Slate Ford Road residence. About five or six weeks or so before the murder occurred, Mathis said he and Heald helped the woman move some personal property out of the house. That was the first time he met Reynolds, who was recovering from cancer treatments.

Mathis also recalled arriving at Bunyard's Clarksville apartment a week or so later and walking into the young woman's bedroom to find Heald and Hall talking in Bunyard's presence. “I don't remember the sequence of the conversation, but Amaris agreed that she could live with the decision,” Mathis stated. That decision, he eventually learned, was to kill Reynolds.

Mathis said he knew the day they went to help move Hall's personal property that Reynolds was the intended victim. The weekend after the initial discussion between Heald and Hall occurred, he said he asked his friend if he could kill Reynolds. Heald allegedly replied that he would threaten the man first. He also allegedly told Mathis there was “...nothing (Mathis) could do to stop this. Nothing.”

Heald didn't have a gun at the time. That was allegedly given to Heald by Bunyard, who reportedly acted as a go-between for her mother to get the weapon to her boyfriend. Mathis said he first saw the handgun laying beside a satchel where Heald “...kept his marijuana...” and other items. Heald purportedly told Mathis that he'd gotten the gun from Bunyard's mother.

In text messages the night before the fateful shooting, Mathis said he asked a friend uninvolved in the shooting to serve as an alibi for him.

Mathis picked up Heald on that Sunday, but he didn't want to drive, so they switched, and Heald drove to Scottsburg. “He said we needed to get 'in the mood' so he played some music...” as the pair drew closer to Scott County, Mathis related.

At first, Mathis said he thought they were going to talk to Hall. Instead, they drove to the Slate Ford home.

Arriving at the house, Heald backed the car into the driveway. Heald “ the gun out and put it in the back of his waistband. He walked over to the gate,” Mathis recalled. There wasn't a direct line of sight to the gate from where Mathis was sitting in the car, he said. “I heard a gun shot, and then Kerry came running back to the car. I heard someone yell, 'Hey!' as we left,” Mathis told Prosecutor Mount.

Heald handed the gun to Mathis and told him to “...wipe it down...” the co-defendant related. The pair drove directly to an Austin storage unit. Heald called Hall to get the information needed to access the unit area. When the woman arrived, Mathis said she opened a unit and handed him boxes containing NASCAR memorabilia. He said the gun was given back to Hall by Heald, but he did not see the transaction.

On the drive back to Clarksville, Mathis said his friend stated three times, “I just killed a man. He wasn't a druggie or a gang-banger, just an old man. And I don't care.” Mathis choked as he made the statement. He wiped his eyes with his hand.

His recitation took about 25 minutes to complete.

Indiana State Police quickly solved the case, collecting several boxes of the racing memorabilia from Mathis' apartment and taking him and Heald into custody. Hall was picked up as well by the ISP. Bunyard was arrested and charged in early February. All are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and obstruction of justice.

Mathis' intention to enter a “blind plea” to the conspiracy charge was submitted on August 22.

The young man could get up to 40 years in prison, but he will have to wait to learn his fate. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered, and, once Mathis waived the right to be sentenced within 30 days, a date of November 14 was scheduled on the court's docket. That hearing may be used as a review of the status of the case.

By request of Prosecutor Mount, Mathis will be transferred to another prison facility to await the hearing.



Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay described as 'wonderful,' 'a great experience' by its enthused participants PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10:19



Ever worry so much about an upcoming event with so many variables which could go wrong that you end up waking up in the early darkness, staring at the ceiling and wondering how in the WORLD it's going to get pulled off with no missteps?

Yeah, well, the local organizers of the Scott County leg of the Indiana State Bicentennial Torch Relay had a few nights like that.

In fact, when Friday, September 16, finally dawned, several on the committee were already up and going, despite the fact that the state entourage wasn't expected until 1 p.m. at Underwood.

And when that group pulled in, it looked like half the Indiana State Police (ISP) force was crowding into the parking lot of the old Underwood grocery store.

One of the most composed persons milling about the area was the first torch bearer, Ed Cozart. He wore a colorful version of early 1800s wear instead of the printed white pull-over shirt and the yellow hat and jacket distributed by the State Bicentennial Commission for all torchbearers. And on his red coat was his official Bicentennial torchbearer pin.

The group took a few minutes to eat box lunches ordered from a downtown Scottsburg cafe and delivered by the local Bicentennial Committee and then hopped back into their vehicles (or on some really snazzy ISP motorcycles), ready to roll once again. They'd spent the morning escorting torchbearers all around Clark County. Now, it was Scott County's turn.

Cozart climbed aboard the large fire engine, the department's 2013 E-ONE quint with fireman John Lord at the wheel, and away they went, clipping off the miles pretty quickly, and that was a good thing. The torch and the last torchbearer was to be at Johnson Elementary School at 2:30 p.m. No, make that HAD to be there.

Cozart, always a cordial fellow, handed off the torch to retired Scottsburg High School (SHS) basketball coach Jim Barley. Jim, a terrific coach and a nice guy, trotted it north on U.S. Highway 31 past a lot of people who came out along the highway to shout encouragement. Jim gave the torch to young Landon Campbell, a SHS freshman and the third torchbearer.

Landon never talks much and reluctantly said his experience was “....just walking the torch past the high school.” He didn't mention the rabid crowd of family members and friends who yelled happily as he completed his lap.

Landon gave the torch to Erick Mays, who had his own groupies consisting of his very proud grandmother, wife and two young sons, one of whom burst into tears because he could not accompany Dad on his route. There were already some tears among that group because Erick was carrying the torch for his late grandfather, Frank Mays. “If he had been able to be there, he would have proudly carried the torch,” Erick said later. In fact, Erick said he felt his granddad's presence “...right by my side...” as he walked to Ace Hardware to hand over the torch to LeRoy Williams.

In a few words, LeRoy is a character. So naturally his mode of transportation was a little, er, odd. Unusual. Crazy! LeRoy with his son-in-law as pilot rode in an oversized grocery cart the pair of them created. Guess what: It is the only grocery cart that will be used in the relay! How about that!

LeRoy zipped to Hyland Street on State Road 56 (McClain Avenue) where Sue Jones was waiting with several of her family members and her seven great-grandchildren across from Scottsburg Elementary School grounds. After a quick pic with her kids, Sue was supposed to climb aboard a golf cart her son Mike was driving. Instead, she walked for a bit and then rode for a bit, but she made sure the last few hundred feet were completed on foot as the 83-year-old walked the torch into downtown Scottsburg where Scottsburg Mayor Bill Graham was waiting for her with a big hug and a kiss.

Mayor Bill climbed on the fire department's 1934 fire engine driven by Scottsburg Fire Chief James Richey, the original one local firemen used in the department's early years, and was driven around the downtown courthouse square, winding up once again on the north side. Mayor Bill offered a few words, saying how grateful Scott County was to be on the torch relay. Iva Gasaway, President of the Scott County Council, also welcomed the Indianapolis people to the county. “We're very happy to participate in this important event,” she commented.

The torch was handed to County Councilman Raymond Jones, the next torchbearer. Raymond once led the department as fire chief, so he was quite happy to get on board the old fire engine. The engine stopped by the elementary school property once again, to the cheers of lots of excited elementary youngsters let out so they could witness the exchange and see the torch. “The whole experience was an honor,” stated Raymond.

At that point, cancer survivor Dustin Houchens was scheduled to be the next torchbearer, but Houchins was unable to participate, so alternate April Ramoni accepted the torch and carried it to the Sunoco station at the corner of S.R. 56 and U.S. 31. Ramoni was one of the artists who painted Scott County symbols on “Scott,” the county's Bicentennial bison won through her efforts earlier this year. There, veteran Al Riggle was waiting in a 1943 Willys jeep.

That jeep carried the retired USAF officer to Scott Memorial Hospital, where Riggle met up with former sheriff Gordon Julian, who, with wife Millie and driver Deputy Jac Sanders, carried the torch all the way to Austin High School, where Julian and his brothers had graduated many years ago.

As the Sheriff's Department Hummer pulled up in front of the school complex, the AHS band played the National Anthem and then the AHS Eagles' fight song. Yelling, screaming and clapping, the entire population of the high school and middle school joined the celebration. Balloons were released as Gordon handed the torch to Rick Rigel, a former coach and a darned good math teacher.

Rigel headed north on U.S. 31 and, in front of the original high school building, now Austin Upper Elementary School, and lots and lots of enthusiastic youngsters, he handed the torch to yet another good and memorable AHS teacher, retired educator Ron Atkins.

Ron paused briefly for photos and then turned north, jogging toward the corner of U.S. 31 and State Road 256, where retired Austin clerk-treasurer Clara Adkins was waiting.

Holding it carefully, Clara walked the torch to her old workplace, Austin City Hall, there receiving the congratulations of Mayor Dillo Bush, several city councilmen and city employees.

A shiny, huge fire engine supplied by the Jennings Township Volunteer Fire Department and manned by firemen Jason Campbell and Greg Hammond was waiting as was the only couple honored as torchbearers, the Rev. Steve Gwaltney and wife Pam of Grace Covenant Church of God. They climbed aboard, and off they went to Frontline Ministries, located in the old Austin Methodist Church along State Road 256.

There, the Gwaltneys handed the torch to Andie Myers, now a sixth grader at Scottsburg Middle School. With an elated Andie aboard, the firemen headed to Johnson Elementary, her alma mater and where she earned her citizenship certificate awarded by the General Charles Scott Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. There, the state entourage thanked her and the firemen and hurried on to their first torchbearer for Jennings County, waiting on State Road 3 near Paris Crossing.

“It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun,” said a still-excited Andie at the Bicentennial Bash held in downtown Scottsburg on Friday night.

Scott County was also praised by state coordinators. Having experienced some awkward moments in other counties, torch entourage members had nothing but praise for local participation. Scott County and its participants stayed on schedule. Advised one of the ISP officers in the entourage, “You guys were terrific!”

Not only was the whole relay definitely a lot of fun, it gave Scott Countians a chance to honor some remarkable people who have contributed to the betterment of the entire county, said Bicentennial Committee Chairman Brandon Polley. He thanked all of the torchbearers and those 60 some people nominated. He also gave a special nod to local committee members Adrian Smallwood, Jennifer Spicer and Jessica Jones for their help in making the torch visit a success.

For those unable to celebrate on September 16, there is a way to get a souvenir of the event. The local committee has several nice torch relay t-shirts available at the office of the Scott County Visitors Commission, which sponsored the torch's visit.

Interested in getting a shirt? Call the Visitors Commission at 812-752-9211 or visit the office at Scottsburg Heritage Station on North Main Street, Scottsburg.




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