By SHAWN McGRATH
Along with contacting The Herald Bulletin Saturday night, escaped convict Kelvin J. Fuller also called an Indianapolis television station.
Fuller, 40, formerly of Anderson, called WXIN Fox 59 shortly after 9 p.m., according to Indiana State Police Sgt. Detective Joe Gawor.
Fox 59 weekend anchor and reporter Gene Cox said Fuller called the television station and asked for a reporter so he could get his side of the story out.
Cox’s conversation with Fuller mirrored Fuller’s phone call with The Herald Bulletin. He called the newspaper about 10:10 p.m., said he was in Indianapolis, but said he planned on leaving Indiana.
“He was fired up because ‘America’s Most Wanted’ said he was dangerous,” Cox said Sunday.
“America’s Most Wanted” featured Fuller, who escaped from the medium-security Westville Correctional Facility on Wednesday, during a roughly 15-second segment near the end of the program. And just like Fuller’s call to the newspaper, his mental state was the same during his roughly-10-minute talk with the television station.
“Agitated,” Cox said. “He was very frustrated with the Indiana Department of Correction and it was their fault that he had to escape: ‘I wasn’t feeling right and they’re not treating me right.’”
Fuller told The Herald Bulletin during a 30- to 40-minute call that he escaped the prison to seek treatment for a stomach ailment. He said he has been feeling nauseous for several weeks, and prison staff weren’t responsive in treating him.
“He blamed them for not taking care of him and putting him in a place where he could escape,” Cox said. “He just wanted to set the record straight. He said, ‘This will end badly.’”
Not long after Fuller said that, he hung up on the television station, according to Cox. Cox said Channel 59 is confident that it was indeed Fuller because the station recorded his voice and played it back to his aunt, Mary Fuller of Anderson.
“I’m pretty confident it was him,” she told The Herald Bulletin on Sunday. “It was him, I know my nephew’s voice.”
Mary Fuller said her nephew hasn’t contacted her since his escape. She said the last time she spoke with him was in mid-July when he called collect from prison, and about the same time his mother, Barbara Fuller, of Montgomery, Ala., visited him in Westville.
“I wish he would (call), so I could talk some sense into him,” Mary Fuller said.
During that last telephone conversation, there was no hint that he was going to break out, she said.
“He sounded fine,” Mary Fuller said. “He was doing fine. That’s why it shocked me when all this happened. He didn’t give any kind of inkling that he was going to do this.”
If she could talk to her nephew, she said she’d urge Kelvin to turn himself in.
“Give yourself up; please give yourself up,” Mary Fuller said. “I would plead with him. I would beg him, plead, to give himself up. He’s only getting himself deeper into trouble.
“I’d tell him I love him, his family loves him and God loves him.”
Along with state police, the Anderson Police Department, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Indiana Department of Correction and Lake County Sheriff’s Department are involved in the search for Fuller.
Fuller pleaded guilty in October 1992 to charges of armed robbery, burglary and arson.
The arson and burglary charges stemmed from Fuller breaking in and setting fire to the Anderson offices of gospel singer Sandi Patty at 2200 Madison Square in April 1990. The blaze caused an estimated $650,000 in damage.
His earliest possible release date was March 2012, according to the DOC. Fuller was also serving sentences for robbery and escape charges in Hancock and Marion counties.
Gawor said he received “a half-dozen” tips about Kelvin Fuller after the “America’s Most Wanted” segment aired. He said two of the tips were discarded outright, while investigators are still checking out the remaining leads. He said the television show might do a longer segment in the future if he remains on the run.
Gawor said it likely was Fuller who contacted Fox 59 and the newspaper. When Fuller called The Herald Bulletin, the Social Security number and date of birth he provided matched those found in court records from previous arrests. In a second, shorter call to the newspaper, Fuller also correctly named the attorney who represented him in his arson and burglary case and the judge, Madison Circuit Court Judge Fredrick Spencer, who presided over the criminal matter.
“I would be pretty confident that it was Kelvin, and he was reaching out for some help,” Gawor said. “I think if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t reach out to protect his reputation and how he was treated at Westville.”
In the phone conversation with The Herald Bulletin, Fuller admitted to stealing a car near Westville, robbing a bus driver in Lake County and a bank branch in Fishers. However, he denied law enforcement accounts that he injured the bus driver during the first robbery.
Gawor said that Fuller’s version of events is inaccurate. He said Fuller strangled the bus driver, whose name hasn’t been released, while the two were inside the bus.
“She even says at one point that, ‘I can’t speak because I’m being choked,” Gawor said. “He was a danger before he went into prison. His actions don’t portray someone who’s not a danger to society.”
Anderson police Detective Joel Sandefur said Fuller should give himself up. The Herald Bulletin contacted Anderson law enforcement officials and the Indiana State Police shortly after speaking with Fuller.
“Turn yourself in,” Sandefur said of the message he’d like to send to Fuller.
Fuller said that he has some suicidal feelings, and doesn’t believe his time on the run will end well. Sandefur said that Fuller’s contacting the media may be his way of signaling that he might be ready to give up.
“It sounds to me like it may be a step to wanting to turn himself in,” Sandefur said. “If he surrenders peacefully, he’ll be taken in peacefully. Or, he can continue to run, and we’ll capture him somewhere eventually.”
And despite Fuller saying he’s not armed and a threat to the public, police don’t see it that way.
“We consider him a dangerous felon, no doubt,” Sandefur said.
Have a tip?
Kelvin Fuller, 40, a former Anderson resident who escaped from the Westville Correctional Facility in northern Indiana on Wednesday, is described as being black, weighing 175 pounds and standing about 5 feet 9. He was last seen driving a white 2004 Chevrolet Malibu with an Indiana “In God We Trust” license plate with number WI7309. He is considered dangerous. Anyone with information should contact the Anderson Police Department at (765) 648-6700 or the Indiana State Police Pendleton Post at (765) 778-7171.
Police still consider Fuller dangerous felon
By SHAWN McGRATH
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