Police finally put murder puzzle together, outline love triangle that ended in death

Andry

Atkins

Authorities were tight-lipped regarding any extra details regarding two arrests made in the nearly year-old murder investigation during the press conference held Tuesday at the Dubois County Annex.

However, court documents and previous comments from the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Detective Sergeant Tom Kleinhelter, the lead investigator in the murder of 49-year-old Darin L. Atkins, revealed the complexity of the investigation that finally ended with the arrests of Jason A. Atkins, 40, of Birdseye, and Sarah K. Andry, 41, of Eckert. Both were charged with murder and Level 3 felony counts of aggravated battery in the case.

The investigation began when police responded to Darin Atkins’ residence on Harts Gravel Road July 19 at about 2 p.m. for the report of a deceased male at the residence. When they arrived, they found Atkins deceased in the home. A subsequent autopsy determined he had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

According to Kleinhelter, during the investigation, police determined Atkins had been dead for a period of time before the incident was reported by Atkins’ girlfriend, Sarah Andry. He added that at least 10 people came out to Atkins’ residence located on the 3000 block of Harts Gravel Road during that time and before police were notified of the death.

Kleinhelter indicated early in the investigation that the number of people that entered the home and the amount of time that elapsed before police were notified of Atkins’ death greatly complicated the investigation. Additionally, contradicting and incorrect information garnered during interviews with the individuals involved as well as potential suspects slowed the investigators’ efforts as they tracked down details and attempted to corroborate statements to determine what happened from the evening of July 18 to the time the murder was reported.

“We received well over 100 tips,” Kleinhelter explained during the press conference, “and there’s not a doubt in my mind that we followed up on each and every one of them.”

Finally, through a compilation of those interviews, tips, GPS data, Facebook and text messages, surveillance footage from the Birdseye Library and nearby Sunoco Gas Station, and statements from the suspects, police have put together the puzzle of what occurred that night.

Photo from the day of the murder. Police cordoned off the area around a residence on Harts Gravel Road north of Birdseye as the death investigation was underway. Photo by David Shepherd with WITZ AM/FM

The investigation outlines a chain of events that center around what police defined as a love triangle involving the victim and the two suspects. Police reported they determined Andry had been involved in relationships with the two men off and on again for about three years.

According to court documents, the victim had held a party at his home the evening of July 18 and at some point, Andry brought a broken television to his home from Jason Atkins’ home. Attendees at the party attempted to fix the television and upon failing, Andry and another person took the television back to Atkins’ home sometime after midnight. Police surmised she stayed at Atkins’ home after returning the television.

At about 1:26 a.m. on July 19, the day he was murdered, Darin Atkins’ vehicle is seen parked at the Birdseye Library where he was logged on the internet through the public WiFi. Then around 3:07 a.m., surveillance video picks up his car heading south on State Road 145, in the direction of Jason Atkins’ home where police determined he dropped an individual off to see if Andry was still there.

A few moments later, the victim’s vehicle is seen heading back north on State Road 145 towards his residence. At about 4:12 a.m., police say the victim texted a friend expressing his anger that Andry was at Atkins’ home.

That is the last activity on the victim’s cellphone until Andry attempts to contact a friend in Oakland City on the afternoon of July 19.

Police determined that Jason Atkins and Sarah Andry went to the victim’s home at about 4:13 a.m. – police were able to collect surveillance footage of Atkins’ vehicle heading north as well as corroborate the statements from the suspects. According to police, when the suspects arrived at the victim’s home, they allegedly struck him with a baseball bat.

Police did not comment on whether the baseball bat used in the murder was ever located.

According to a statement to police from Jason Atkins, he alleges the pair went into the victim’s home where they engaged in an argument with the victim during which he struck the victim with the baseball bat knocking him unconscious. Jason told police he left the room after he saw Andry strike Darin with the bat a second time. While in a separate room of the home, Jason allegedly heard what he assumed was Andry striking the victim again.

He told police that after they left the residence, he urged Andry to call the police, but she refused at the time stating they would blame the incident on someone else.

Police determined the two returned to Jason Atkins’ home until he left to pick up Andry’s daughter and after dropping her off, he and Andry again argued over what to do about the incident. Then, he went to work until going to his grandfather’s funeral later that morning.

While Jason Atkins was involved with the funeral, Andry allegedly asked a friend to take her back to the victim’s home where she used the victim’s phone at about 12:20 p.m. to attempt to contact a friend in Oakland City. When the friend didn’t answer, Andry called Jason Atkins to tell him that Darin Atkins was in fact dead.

Police allege that Jason then came to the victim’s home and observed his body to confirm he was dead. Once he confirmed that Darin was dead, he left with Andry. They are picked up on the Birdseye Library surveillance camera driving together at about 12:34 p.m.

Police allege that at one point during interviews with Andry on the day of the murder she spontaneously uttered “my god, what have I d…”

Jason and Andry then contact Andry’s mother and meet her at a secluded area near Birdseye. Andry leaves with her mother who eventually talks her into contacting authorities about the incident. She calls 911 at about 1:59 p.m. and a deputy takes a video interview of her a short time later noting that she has a large red knot on her arm.

During subsequent interviews with Andry and Atkins, police were able to pick apart the details and fabrications the pair provided to finally create the timeline indicated in the court documents.

Andry allegedly told police that the victim was alive on the morning of July 19 and had spoken with him over the phone but police were able to determine through phone records that these activities never occurred.

Police allege that at one point during interviews with Andry on the day of the murder she spontaneously uttered “my god, what have I d…”

In the court documents, police recorded that Andry continued to make statements blaming the murder on other individuals during subsequent interviews.

Many factors exacerbated the investigation including tampering that occurred at the crime scene prior to police arriving on July 19.

In October, deputies charged Quentin A. McMickle, 19, of Birdseye, with a Level 4 felony count of burglary and a Level 6 felony count of obstruction of justice related to the incident. Police allege he tampered with the scene and moved the body of Mr. Atkins.

During the press conference today, police confirmed Mr. Atkins’ body had been moved prior to them arriving.

A warrant for McMickle’s arrest was filed October 10. According to court documents, investigators have interviewed five people who claim McMickle told them he was there or he cleaned up the scene at the home on Harts Gravel Road where Mr. Atkins was found dead of a blunt force trauma to his head on July 19.

McMickle has denied he entered the crime scene but according to court documents, McMickle allegedly told several people he cleaned the scene while wearing plastic bags on his hands and feet. He also allegedly identified the murder weapon as a baseball bat and one person said McMickle was looking for it in the home.

McMickle was also at both homes the night of the murder according to court documents.

After an 11-month investigation that included the Prosecuting Attorney’s investigator and an Indiana State Police investigator, police were able to pull together the details of what happened on those days enough so that the prosecuting attorney’s office and investigators felt they could charge Jason Atkins and Sarah Andry in the case.

Atkins was extradited from the Pike Count Security Center where he was being held on a Level 4 felony count of dealing methamphetamine. Andry was arrested Monday.

The pair were arraigned in Dubois County Circuit Court Tuesday morning. Judge Nathan Verkamp assigned Casey Lindeman as pauper counsel for Andry and Ripstra Law Office as pauper counsel for Atkins. Both will continue to be held without bond in the Dubois County Security Center.

Andry will appear in court on June 22 at 9 a.m. and Atkins will appear in court on June 26 at 9 a.m.

During the press conference held Tuesday, Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Quinn and Kleinhelter expressed gratitude towards all the departments involved in the long investigation.

“They spent 100s of hours during the course of this investigation going over interviews, following up on tips and leads, taking the time to do this investigation properly to get the conclusive results we are looking for,” Quinn said. “Additionally, we want to thank the community for the tips and information that the officers followed up on. Without their help, the investigation would have been much more difficult.”

Kleinhelter added. “I understand that it’s been almost 11 months since the homicide took place but there is no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t be standing here today and we would not be able to charge two people with the death of Darin Atkins if it wasn’t for the cooperation I received from the Dubois County Prosecutor’s Office, the Indiana State Police and every other agency involved.”

*Police could not confirm whether Jason Atkins and the victim, Darin Atkins, were related.

One Response to Police finally put murder puzzle together, outline love triangle that ended in death

  1. T. McBeth US Army Retired June 13, 2018 at 8:46 am #

    Oh what a tangled web one weaves when one first sets out to deceive. Great job officers.

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