Police: Love triangle figured into homicide

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

BIRDSEYE — Police booked a man and a woman into jail Monday on warrants charging them in connection with the July murder in Birdseye of 49-year-old Darin L. Atkins.

Andry
Atkins

Jason A. Atkins, 40, 16 E. Second St., Birdseye, is charged with a count of murder and a Level 3 felony count of aggravated battery in his warrant issued in Dubois Circuit Court. Sarah K. Andry, 41, Eckerty, is charged with aiding, inducing or causing murder plus a Level 3 felony count of aggravated battery.

Police contend it was widely known in Birdseye that Andry was in a love triangle with Jason A. Atkins and the victim. Court documents allege that, over the course of at least three years, Andry went back and forth between the victim and Jason Atkins.

The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department found Atkins deceased at his 3543 S. Harts Gravel Road mobile home north of Birdseye July 19 after the Dubois County Communications Center received a 911 call from Andry at 1:59 p.m. that Wednesday reporting there was a deceased male at the location. She stated then that the victim was her fiancé.

Andry allegedly told authorities it looked like someone came in while Darin Atkins was sleeping and beat him to death. She is also alleged to have told authorities the door was locked and she crawled in through the kitchen window to enter the home.

Early on in the investigation, Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Detective Sgt. Tom Kleinhelter said, it became apparent to investigators that the crime scene had been tampered with and the body had been moved post-mortem.

The Dubois County Coroner’s Office’s preliminary findings from an autopsy indicated Atkins’ cause of death was a closed head injury by a large, blunt object. As a result, the death was ruled a homicide.

The police investigation indicated there had been a considerable time delay between the time Atkins’ body was discovered and when a 911 call was placed.

Further complicating the investigation was information suggesting as many as 10 people came to the crime scene and possibly entered the residence prior to authorities being notified about the death.

Most of those people were Atkins’ friends, Kleinhelter had said. The detective indicated they most probably were in disbelief that Atkins was dead and wanted to see for themselves if it was true. And most of them probably thought someone else had called authorities.

Anyone who entered the home became an addition to a large suspect list.

At last report, authorities had not located a murder weapon.

In October, police accused a man of entering the murder scene and tampering with it.

Quentin A. McMickle, 20, also of the 16 E. Second St. address, was arrested on a Dubois Circuit Court warrant charging him with a Level 4 felony count of burglary and a Level 6 felony count of obstruction of justice. He has been out on bond since November.

Court documents related to McMickle’s charging indicate multiple people told a sheriff’s department investigator that McMickle stated to them he cleaned up the murder scene.

One source cited in court documents indicated McMickle told him he had plastic bags on his hands and feet at the scene and that source also said McMickle had indicated he thought the murder weapon was a baseball bat with black tape wrapped around it.

Other individuals mentioned in court documents reported McMickle telling them that he went to Atkins’ trailer on the day of the murder and that he saw his body there. Those individuals also state McMickle told them he was looking for a bat but it wasn’t there.

The investigation that resulted in the charging of Jason Atkins and Sarah Andry included the use of cellphone records, GPS location data, social media, surveillance footage and interviews, Kleinhelter said today during a press conference at the prosecutor’s office.

Kleinhelter said investigators received more than 100 tips and investigated them all.

Police developed a timeline of the crime, which they contend shows that Jason Atkins and Sarah Andry went inside the victim’s residence and struck him multiple times with a baseball bat.

Authorities allege Jason Atkins gave numerous inconsistent statements that were determined to be false during multiple interviews. Andry is alleged to have tried to cast blame on at least three other individuals on the day the death investigation began. At the time her statement was taken July 19, authorities contend Andry had a large, red, swollen knot on her left forearm.

Court documents allege that, during interviews last month, Jason Atkins admitted to striking the victim with a bat once and stated Andry subsequently struck Darin Atkins at least two more times after a confrontation. The victim went unconscious after the first blow, Jason Atkins allegedly told authorities, adding that he and Andry then left the victim’s residence together.

Andry and Jason Atkins made brief, separate initial appearances in court this morning in which the charges were reviewed with them and preliminary pleas of not guilty were entered on their behalf by the court. Both had public defenders appointed to represent them.

The prosecution’s request that they both continue to be held without bail was granted by the court. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Beth Sermersheim called Andry a flight risk, noting she was named in four failure-to-appear warrants in the last four years.

Jason Atkins was brought to Dubois County from the Pike County Jail. He has been in Pike County custody since being charged with a Level 4 felony count of dealing methamphetamine in March.

The penalty for a murder conviction ranges from 45 to 65 years.

Kleinhelter said the sheriff’s department allowed him time to work on the case daily but the arrests could not have happened without the assistance of the Dubois County Prosecutor’s Office, the Indiana State Police and the other agencies that assisted.

Kleinhelter declined to take questions during this morning’s press conference, saying the investigation remains open. View the press conference below.




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