MICHIGAN CITY | Being nice could have been the downfall of Gerald Peters, who was killed Thursday inside his home.
One of the four people in custody in his death had been taken in by Peters, a well-known and liked member of the Michigan City community.
"He was friendly to everybody. Maybe in this case, it was to a point of concern," said Jan Dick, a friend of Peters for more than 30 years.
Peters, 69, was found dead late Thursday morning at his home in the 300 block of Walker Street on the city's north side.
Charged Friday with murder, felony murder and robbery were Ryan Phelps, 20; Melvin Basford, 18; Martell Anderson, 16; and Trevon Walker, 17, all of Michigan City.
Walker also is charged with possession of stolen property and two counts of resisting law enforcement after police said he was found behind the wheel of Peters' vehicle following a chase.
Phelps was listed by police as homeless.
After 11 a.m. Thursday, officers were called to Peters' home to check on his welfare and discovered his body.
The circumstances leading up to Peters' death and how he died were not disclosed.
About three hours after discovering his body, there was a pursuit of the victim's Pontiac Grand Am being driven by Walker, who crashed in the area of Porter and Holiday streets, police said. Walker took off on foot but was apprehended a short time later.
Peters was a retired teacher and former officer with the Michigan City Federation of Teachers.
He also was very active with the Mainstreet Theatre in Michigan City's downtown.
Dick, also was a member of the theater, said Peters never performed but played a major role in operations in areas ranging from finances to greeting ticket holders at the doors.
He said Peters was friendly and always kept a positive attitude, especially about the future of the downtown.
Dick, a resident of Valparaiso, said Peters, after learning Phelps was homeless, allowed him to live in his basement.
Peters recently kicked out Phelps, though, due to some source of friction.
"He'd give you the shirt on his back," Dick said of Peters.
Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer said Peters was one of his high school English teachers.
"He was a real gentleman," said Meer, who credited the Police Department for arresting suspects quickly.
"Unfortunately, we've had three homicides in Michigan City this year, but I will say all three within 12 to 16 hours we had people in custody. We're solving the crimes. It's tragic. It really is," Meer said.