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12/24/2018 6:10:00 PM
2018 deadliest year ever for homicides in Grant County

Carolyn Muyskens, Chronicle-Tribune

Nine victims died in homicides this year in Grant County, the highest number of homicide deaths on record.

That's according to Grant County Coroner Chris Butche, who said as far as he knows 2018 has had the most homicides in recent memory. Marion Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey confirmed this, saying this year's violence has surpassed even the violence of 2003, when five were murdered within the span of four months in Grant County.

The ages of 2018's nine homicide victims ranged from 13 to 81. Two of the victims were in middle or high school. And in five of this year's homicides, families are still waiting for answers.

In two of the deaths, at least one person has been charged with murder.

In 17-year-old Ethan Wolff's death, Matthew Rudisel, 18, and Eric Jordan, 20, have been charged with murder. Wolff was fatally stabbed in the middle of a country road, South 700 East, on Oct. 30.

A suspect is also locked up and accused of killing Trinity Parker, of Anderson, in southern Grant County, near the Madison County line, this summer.

Four people were arrested after Parker, 39, was found dead, possibly for weeks, in an abandoned house.

Butche said at the time Parker's body was “unrecognizable.”

Taylor Wheeler, Brittney Vontress-Cox, Jordan Zirkle and Daniel Jones were all arrested in Madison County shortly after the discovery of her and another body, also found in Madison County. A fifth suspect, David Roberts, was arrested two weeks later and faces a murder charge connected to Parker's death.

Police believe Jones is the one who pulled the trigger in Parker's death.

Police have also been able to find answers to the deaths of 81-year-old Gene Thompson and 13-year-old Alainee Byer, both of Jonesboro.

After 17-year-old Corbin Page killed Byer and then himself this winter, an Indiana State Police lab matched the gun used in the murder-suicide to the gun used in the January shooting of Thompson.

“It's bittersweet because the family can get answers and provide the closure they need to move on from that tragedy,” said Jonesboro Police Chief Joel Thomas in June. “It feels good to have answers, for the full picture to come together for us, but it's just a tragic case.”

The other five homicide deaths – the deaths of Roger Randolph in June, Justice Jackson, Joshua Lopez and Brian Gochenour in July, and the death of Maurtreyvian “Trey” Sanders in November – are unsolved.

What's shocking to Butche and others is how young some of the victims and suspected killers have been this year.

Sanders was 19 when he was killed on Nov. 6.

According to Butche, after Sanders was fatally shot he ran two blocks – “he was an athlete, in really good shape” – to a house his father was at, saying just before he went unconscious, “They tried to rob me.”

Sanders had played on the Marion High School football team. According to his obituary, he had planned to attend Indiana Wesleyan University.

The case of 17-year-old Page, suspected of killing Thompson and Byer, hit hard too.

“This case had extremely unusual and very tragic, extreme violence on the part of a juvenile and extreme violence upon anyone,” Grant County Prosecutor Jim Luttrull Jr. said back in June, when Page was connected to the Thompson murder.

Rudisel, 18, charged in 17-year-old Wolff's murder, is trying to finish high school in jail. According to court documents, Rudisel has asked to be allowed to take part of the ISTEP while in jail in order to finish the requirements to graduate with his class.

Copyright #YYYY# Chronicle-Tribune

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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