The Herald Bulletin

October 11, 2013

Prosecutor: Elwood police should no longer investigate mayor's family

Cummings directs city officials to hand off future criminal incidents

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — On the heels of an investigation of child neglect involving the Elwood mayor's son, the Madison County Prosecutor has directed the Elwood Police Department to not investigate any incidents involving the mayor's family in the future.

In a letter sent to Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold and Chief of Police Sam Hanna on Wednesday, Prosecutor Rodney Cummings writes that officers of EPD have conducted several criminal investigations involving the family in the past year.

The letter reads in part: "It is not appropriate or ethical for police officers whom you supervise directly or indirectly to conduct such investigations. It has the appearance of impropriety and causes our citizens to be suspicious that the law applies equally to everyone."

In the letter, Cummings writes that he's suggested in the past that such investigations aren't wise, and now he's making it a directive.

"Officers of the Elwood Police Department or any officers whom you supervise, will not be permitted to conduct a criminal investigation connected to you or any member of your immediate family," the letter reads. The message concludes by indicating that failure to comply with the directive will lead to immediate investigations of Arnold and the Elwood Police Department into obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

On Friday, Hanna said he's aware that there is a letter for him, but has not received it or read it yet. He said until he reads it, he has no comment. Elwood public information officer Jeff Howe said Arnold was out of the office on Friday and has no knowledge of the letter. He said he also declined to comment until reading the letter.

The letter comes shortly after accusations that Arnold's son, Tyler Arnold, shook and dropped a baby, causing the infant to be hospitalized at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis with serious and perhaps life-altering injuries. The investigation also involves the baby's mother, Kaylee Kelley, who allegedly waited several hours before seeking medical attention for her infant son. Both Kelley and Arnold face felony neglect charges. EPD has been the lead investigating agency in the case, and Cummings indicated on Friday that the directive does not apply to this current investigation, only to future incidents.

In the probable cause affidavit of the incident, Kelley also told police that she was thinking of taking her child to the hospital before Monday, but that Arnold had been in text conversations with Hanna, who allegedly told Arnold not to come to the hospital because he and Kelley would be arrested for suspicious activity. Hanna denied this account on Sept. 30.

Tyler Arnold, who has a previous felony conviction, is under in-home detention stemming from a July 2011 case. In August, he pleaded guilty to three counts of Class D felony fraud and Class D felony theft and was sentenced to 24 months, of which 18 were to be served on in-home detention. Officially, Arnold faces charges of neglect, battery, aggravated battery, criminal recklessness and maintaining a common nuisance for the incident involving the infant.

In December, two of Ron Arnold's teenage sons were arrested in connection with separate incidents. Arnold announced that one of his sons was one of four minors responsible for setting fire to the abandoned State Plating factory in Elwood. A different son was arrested on Dec. 17 and charged with battery and possession of alcohol.

The Herald Bulletin does not report names of minors who are processed through juvenile courts.

The mayor is also the subject of a separate Indiana State Police investigation. The investigation was confirmed by Hanna at a city council meeting on Sept. 9. At the meeting, Hanna said because the investigation is active, he couldn't comment on its nature. ISP investigators have also declined to comment on the matter.

Like Jack Molitor on Facebook and follow him @aggiejack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.