Man linked to 5 Indiana slayings held on $5M bond

AP News
Posted: Sep 29, 2011 6:48 PM
Man linked to 5 Indiana slayings held on $5M bond

Police found a handgun like the one used to kill five people in rural Indiana in the car of a man linked to the deaths, and bloodstained clothes and a victim's cell phone were found in the home where he stayed, authorities told a Thursday court hearing.

Ripley Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul's office said David E. Ison, 46, was ordered held on $5 million bond during the hearing, where he pleaded not guilty to an unrelated attempted robbery charge.

Ison has not been charged in the killings of four family members and another man found dead near Laurel last weekend, but prosecutors told the judge during the hearing that he is suspected in the deaths.

Authorities said in court that a .380 caliber handgun like the one used in the slayings was found in Ison's car when he was arrested early Wednesday, as was an AK-47 assault rifle. Officers who searched a home where he was staying found the clothes and cell phone, along with a pair of shoes with imprints that matched those found at the crime scene, authorities told the judge.

Prosecutors entered into evidence photos of the guns in Ison's trunk and a wig, false beard and hat he was wearing when he was arrested, according to Taul's office.

Defense attorney John Watson, who was appointed to represent Ison, declined to comment after the hearing because he had not discussed the case in detail with Ison. He did say he might challenge the amount of Ison's bond.

Deputies discovered the bodies of Roy Napier, 50, his estranged wife, Angela Napier, 47, and their children, Melissa Napier, 23, and Jacob Napier, 18, Sunday afternoon at a mobile home near Laurel, about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

A family friend identified as Henry Smith, 43, was found dead on a nearby property.

Indiana State Police said earlier Thursday that Ison may not be the only person of interest in the shootings, while Franklin County Sheriff Ken Murphy said he was "99.9 percent certain" police had arrested the sole gunman.

"We're not only focusing on a shooter, we're focusing on everybody who had anything to do with this crime," Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Jerry Goodin said.

Besides the tip that led to Ison's arrest, investigators were sifting through several more leads pointing to others who might have been involved in Sunday's shootings in rural Franklin County, he said.

"Until we get all those done, obviously we can't say we've got the only person," Goodin said. "We're happy we've got one person of interest but we're not going to stop until we know we've got everybody."

Autopsies showed the Napiers all had been shot in the head and that Smith had a gunshot wound to the chest. Smith and Angela Napier also showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head.

A 4-year-old girl escaped unharmed and was found by passers-by who alerted police.

Murphy said Ison has an "extensive" criminal record that includes armed robbery, burglary, forgery and counterfeiting. He said Ison had a "relationship" with the victims, though he declined to elaborate on what that relationship was.

Goodin said police had not determined a motive for the shootings.

"We haven't ruled out anything," he said.