Coroner identifies four victims slain in home in Waynesville
WAYNESVILLE | Authorities said Sunday that four people found shot to death in a southern Indiana home were a couple who lived there and two of their male friends.
Daniel Burton, the 27-year-old son of the woman who was killed, arrived home from work Saturday night and found two of the victims dead in the living room of his Waynesville home, Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett said. He said Burton called police, who found the other two victims, including Burton's mother, Katheryn Burton, 53.
"We have no one in custody at this time," Gorbett said.
Authorities identified the others who were killed as Katheryn Burton's longtime boyfriend, Thomas Smith, 39, who also lived at the home, and two Columbus men, Aaron Cross and Shawn Burton, both 41. The coroner said the Columbus men were friends of the couple, but were not related to them. Waynesville is a few miles south of Columbus.
Gorbett said the three men were found dead in the living room and that Katheryn Burton was found dead in a bedroom.
When asked by reporters for additional information on Sunday, Gorbett said, "Quadruple homicide."
State plants trees to reclaim wetlands along I-69 route
OWENSBURG | State contractors are planting thousands of trees and reclaiming previously drained southern Indiana wetlands to make up for the environmental damage caused by construction of the $3 billion Interstate 69 extension.
The Indiana Department of Transportation's federally required mitigation plan includes planting about 332,000 trees and protecting another 690,000 trees along a 27-mile section of the highway being built in Greene and Monroe counties. The stretch is scheduled to open during late 2014 and 2015. The first 67 miles of the 142-mile Evansville-to-Indianapolis highway opened in November.
INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield told The Herald-Times the state agency is spending about $30 million on environmental mitigation efforts that cover 4,100 acres of streams, wetlands and forests. That includes land the state has purchased over four caves that are the natural habitat of the federally endangered Indiana bat. Those land purchases are intended to protect about 34,000 of the mouse-sized bat species.
I-69's opponents have said the highway's path through Greene and Monroe counties — a rugged, wooded area that's filled with caves, springs and sinkholes — will harm highly sensitive ecosystems that harbor populations of the Indiana bat.
Tipton officials say damage from flood tops $2.5 million
TIPTON | Recent flooding across central Indiana caused more than $2.5 million in property damage in Tipton and displaced about 5 percent of the city's population, its mayor has told federal officials.
Mayor Don Havens, in an impact statement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the flooding also eroded as much as 10 percent of the property tax base of the city of about 5,000 people, the Kokomo Tribune reported recently.
The city about 35 miles north of Indianapolis has spent an estimated $150,000 on flood debris removal and landfill fees from the April 19-20 flooding along Big Cicero Creek and Buck Creek.
"I expect those costs could double," Havens said. If that happens, those costs will have eaten up 10 percent of the city's $3 million in tax revenues.
"Right now, we're taking the money from our operating balance," he said.
Havens said the flood disproportionately affected lower income and lesser educated individuals in the community. The long-term impact could be the abandonment of up to 10 percent of the damaged properties and the loss of population, he said.