By Charles Wilson The Associated Press
The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — A Columbus man identified as the sole suspect in the shooting deaths of four people in southern Indiana was indicted Tuesday on federal weapons charges, ensuring that he'll remain in custody for at least the time being.
Samuel Sallee, 55, hasn't been charged in the May 11 attack in which a couple and their two friends were killed in the couple's home in Waynesville, a small community a few miles from Columbus. However, Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett has publicly identified Sallee as the "prime and only suspect" in the killings.
Sallee has been in jail in neighboring Brown County since May 13 on a warrant for failure to appear in court on battery charges.
No phone listing for Sallee could be found. Jail officials said they had no information Tuesday about whether he had an attorney.
Federal prosecutors in Indianapolis said in a statement Tuesday that Sallee was found in possession of a .22-caliber rifle three days after the killings. They didn't say whether they believe the gun was used in the attack, but they said Sallee couldn't legally have a firearm because of his felony record that includes intimidation and drug convictions.
Sallee has been placed on a federal hold due to the firearms charges, and the U.S. marshals would take immediate custody of him if he were released from jail, prosecutors said.
"We are working closely with Bartholomew County law enforcement in this matter, and we will do everything within our power to ensure this defendant is held to account for any crimes he has committed," U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said in the statement.
The sheriff's office has previously said it had sought assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Gorbett didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday about whether the gun seized by federal agents had been connected to the slayings.
Gorbett previously said a rifle was recovered from the scene, but investigators said they didn't know if the rifle was connected with the killings of 53-year-old Katheryn Burton, her longtime boyfriend, Thomas Smith, 39, and two friends, Aaron Cross and Shawn Burton, both 41-year-old Columbus residents.
County Coroner Larry Fisher said Katheryn Burton was shot and stabbed multiple times, and he described her slaying as "very vicious." The other victims all had multiple gunshot wounds.