Terra Haselberger

Hammond Couple Found Killed in Apparent Murder-Suicide

June 26, 2009

HAMMOND | A young man and woman were found dead in their rented house on a quiet Woodmar street Thursday afternoon in what police described as an apparent murder-suicide.

Investigators said Terra Haselberger, 22, suffered gunshot wounds to her neck and face, and Jeremy Fields, 31, was found with a single gunshot wound to his head at 6930 Chesapeake Place shortly before 4 p.m.

A large-caliber pistol lay on the floor near Fields' body, detectives said.

Neighbors reported an older sister of Haselberger, who has lived with couple in the home for the past two years, found them after Haselberger failed to return to her job as a receptionist at a nearby chiropractic clinic after lunch, police said.

Family members who gathered at the scene along the Erie-Lackawanna bike trail across from Elmwood Cemetery at 169th Street declined to talk about Haselberger, who grew up in Dyer, or Fields, who was from Valparaiso, except to say that he was unhappy with his recent inability to find work.

Neighbors said Haselberger also worked at a part-time job at a Hobart restaurant to make ends meet. But there were signs of trouble between the couple, they said.

Police were called to the couple's home on a domestic disturbance report on New Year's Eve, when neighbors said Fields chased Haselberger down the street firing a pistol.

Haselberger sought refuge at a neighbor's house, but then declined to tell the responding officers who was threatening her and they left on another call, said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified by name.

"I spend all my time with my boyfriend, who I love more than anything in this entire world," Haselberger recently wrote on her MySpace page, which featured photos of the couple with new tattoos of each other's names. "And pretty soon I will be his wifey!!!"

"And I also have an amazing family," she wrote.


TERRA L. HASELBERGER HAMMOND/ FORMERLY OF DYER, IN Terra L. Haselberger, passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2009. She is survived by mother, Brenda Haselberger; one brother, Matthew Haselberger; two sisters: Rachel and Nicole Haselberger; grandparents; Lorraine Kraatz and Charles (Nadine) Haselberger; many aunts, uncles and cousins; one nephew, Nathan Daniel Haselberger; preceded in death by her father, Daniel in 2001; and grandfather, Roger B. Kraatz Sr. in 2007. Funeral services will be Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. at the Fagen-Miller Funeral Home, 1920 Hart St. Dyer, IN. Interment Memory Lanes Cemetery in Schererville, IN. Relatives and friends may meet with the family on Monday, June 29, 2009 from 3:00-8:00 p.m. Terra was an employee of Hofferth, Family Chiropractic, where she served as an Office Manager. She enjoyed summer, going to the beach, helping others, whether young or old, her smile made you feel loved and welcomed. Her vibrant personality, contagious laugh, love of her family will be forever missed and cherished. Our lives will never be the same due to this tragic loss. Terra graduated in 2004 from Lake Central High School. Donations to the family would be appreciated

Cassandra Isom

Cassandra Isom

Three Dead After Standoff In "Non-Violent City"

August 7, 2007

Gary, Indiana police say a standoff at an apartment complex ended overnight with a woman and two teenagers dead and a suspect in custody.

The standoff and deadly shootings took place overnight in Gary's Lakeshore Dunes apartment complex. A neighbor dialed 9-1-1 to report shots fired while a police officer was following-up outside the apartment building more shots came from inside and so began a three-and-a-half hour stand-off.

But Gary's police chief said Tuesday that he believes the suspect killed his family before the stand-off started.

Shattered glass and broken hearts outside a Gary apartment complex where police believe a man took the lives of a mother and her two children. A neighbor told police the last words he heard uttered inside.

"He heard a small child scream 'Daddy don't do that, daddy don't do that!" He then heard another shot," said Gary Police Sergeant Tom DeCanter.

The victims are identified as 40 year old Cassandra Isom, her 17-year-old son Michael Moore and 13-year-old daughter Ciandre Cole.

Their relatives released a statement saying "Cassandra Isom was an excellent mother, a kind a generous person. She loved people, her family and friends."

The suspect is a 41-year-old out-of-work security guard. The victims' relatives said they're aware of no signs that trouble was brewing in the household. But just after 10 o'clock Monday night neighbors report hearing several shots fired.

"A lot of gunfire, it sounds like fireworks," said neighbor Dave Caster. "I stepped out and it was crazy. It sounded like you were in Vietnam."

The first police officer on the scene called for back-up then helped evacuate another family. SWAT officers surrounded the building but not before they say the suspect fired several shots in their direction. For more than three hours, police waited.

"We weren't aware of the complete situation and didn't want to risk firing until we knew what was going on," said DeCanter.

Gary police said they believe the suspect killed the woman and children before the stand-off started. It ended when police fired tear gas into the home. They went in and found the mother and her children in the living room. Police tasered the suspect in a back bedroom and they said several weapons were at his side.

Gary's mayor said the type of violence that claimed this family has infected communities across the country.

"The majority of our murders are not gangs and thugs they are domestic like last night's. That's why I continue to say Gary is not a violent city," said Gary Mayor Rudy Clay.

See posts for her dear children Michael Moore and Ci'Andria Cole.

Michael Moore

Death Penalty Trial: Jury Selection Begins For Kevin Isom in 2008 Indiana Murders of 3 Family Members

October 15, 2010

Prosecutors in Lake County, Ind., will seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing his family last summer.

Prosecutors say Kevin Isom shot his wife and her daughter and son inside the family's apartment in Gary on August 7, 2007. He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of 40-year-old Cassandra Isom, 17-year-old Michael Moore and 13-year-old Ci'Andria Cole.

According to a court affidavit, Isom allegedly told investigators that he shot his family because his wife was going to leave him. He also said she had been supporting the family on her own and that he had not been working.

Now Isom also faces four attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting at police officers who had responded to a hostage situation at the Lake Shore Dunes complex, where Isom allegedly killed his wife and stepchildren.

"Every death is traumatic to a police officer, but the death of children perhaps hit them more. For the officers who came under fire, it brings home the danger they face," said Gary Police Cmdr. Sam Roberts.

"We have to send a message to the public that we cannot allow anyone to harm our officers," added Gary Police Det. James Bond.

Isom is currently being held at the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, Ind.

See posts for her dear mother Cassandra Isom and sister Ci'Andria Cole.

Ci'Andria Cole

Stepfather Ignored Girl's Plea

August 8, 2007

A former security guard ignored the cries of his 13-year-old stepdaughter late Monday night and shot his family to death in their small Miller apartment, police say. For three hours, a man identified by police sources as Kevin Isom, 41, kept the city's SWAT team at bay outside his Lakeshore Dunes apartment building while a negotiator repeatedly tried to reach him on a phone.

When police finally charged into the residence, they found Isom's wife, 40-year-old Cassandra Isom, and her children, 16-year-old Michael Moore and 13-year-old Ci'Andria Cole, dead on the floor.

Authorities allege Isom killed his family after his wife threatened to leave him because he was not working and she was paying all the bills.

Attorneys seek delay in Lake County's lone death penalty trial

Lake County public defenders Herbert Shaps and Casey McCloskey are asking for more time to prepare the county's only death penalty case.

In reporting their progress to the court Friday, Shaps told Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. four more months are not adequate to meet the current trial date of May 2, 2011.

The public defender's office was ordered in November to take over representing murder defendant Kevin Isom, 45.

Isom is accused of fatally shooting his wife, Cassandra Isom, 40, and her two children, Michael Moore, 16, and Ci'Andria Cole, 13, on Aug. 6, 2007, at the family's Lakeshore Dunes Apartments in Miller.

Stefaniak had ordered the public defender's office to take over Isom's defense after Isom sought to replace the law firm of Thiros & Stracci in the wake of the death of trial lawyer Nick Thiros in October.

At the time, Stefaniak told Isom the chances of obtaining a refund from the Thiros firm and finding a new private lawyer to take on a death penalty case were minimal and declared Isom indigent.

Stefaniak said he thought it necessary to move the case forward in the interest of the victims' family.

Stefaniak on Friday took the question of continuing the trial under advisement until a hearing Feb. 25, 2011 when the public defenders also are expected to report on other trial issues.

See posts for her dear mother Cassandra Isom and brother Michael Moore.

Ana L. Casas

Man kills wife, 3 kids after argument over chores

Police say the couple's three daughters -- ages 10, 4 and 20 months -- were strangled

December 15, 2005

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (AP) -- A man accused of killing his family told police he beat and strangled his wife and killed their three young daughters after the couple argued about household chores, according to court documents.

Police found Simon Rios, 33, on the front porch of his home after getting a suicide call early Tuesday. Inside, they discovered blood in the living room and Rios' wife and their three children dead in a bedroom.

Rios pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four preliminary counts of murder and two counts of moving a body. He was jailed without bond.

Autopsies showed the girls -- ages 10, 4 and 20 months -- had all been strangled. Their mother, identified as Ana L. Casas, died of a blow to the head and strangulation, the coroner said.

Rios told police he and his wife argued after she arrived home from work about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a probable cause affidavit. He said he hit her with a steel pipe, then strangled her with an extension cord, the affidavit states.

He then strangled one of the girls with his hands and used an extension cord to kill the other girls, according to the affidavit.

Neighbor Nancy Gater said Simon Rios worked at a factory but had lost his job this year.

The bodies were found a day after authorities searched the neighborhood for clues to the disappearance of a 10-year-old girl. Police spokesman Mike Joyner said that police did not find a connection between the cases when they questioned Rios, but that he is a possible suspect.

Rios had a previous conviction in Allen County for misdemeanor domestic battery in 2003, but friends said they had seen no signs of trouble in the family.

Michael Guzman, who described Rios as a friend, said he had never heard Rios raise his voice to his children or speak ill of his wife.

"Everybody who knows him loves the guy," he said.

See posts on her dear children Liliana K. Rios Casas, Katherinne G. Rios and Thannya Karolinna Rios.

Liliana K. Rios Casas

Liliana K. Rios Casas

Indiana Man Held in Death of Wife, Kids

December 14, 2005

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A man found standing on the front porch of his home faces murder charges for allegedly killing his wife and three daughters -- at least two of whom were found strangled inside the family's home.

Simon Rios, 33, was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on four counts of murder and two preliminary counts of moving a body. He was being held without bond in the Allen County Jail.

Allen County Coroner E. Jon Brandenberger said an autopsy found that Rios' wife, Ana L. Casas, 28, had died from blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. One of the couple's three daughters, Katherinne G. Rios, 4, had been strangled, he said.

Autopsies on the two other victims, Liliana K. Rios Casas, 10, and Thannya Karolinna Rios, 20 months, were expected to be performed Wednesday.

Fort Wayne police spokeswoman Robin Thompson said Simon Rios is accused of killing the four following an argument that she said was detailed in a probable cause affidavit.

Officers found the bodies inside the home early Tuesday after being called to the house to investigate reported suicide threats.

Neighbor Nancy Gater said Simon Rios worked at a factory but had lost his job this year and spent some time in Mexico. She said the family had moved to the house about four years ago.

The discovery of the bodies came a day after police and the FBI searched homes in the south side neighborhood for clues about 10-year-old Alejandra Gutierrez, who disappeared Thursday on her way to a nearby school bus stop.

Thompson said police did not believe the cases were related.

Hundreds of Hispanic residents flocked to St. Patrick's Catholic Church on Tuesday night to hold a prayer vigil for the four victims.

"God wishes little children to grow up, become teenagers and adults," said Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese as the Rev. Jack Overmyer, St. Patrick's pastor, translated his comments into Spanish.

"We mourn for these little children and their mom, and we pray they're in the hands of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and we ask God to protect our families," D'Arcy said.

Adolfo Puebla, who said he is the godfather of the youngest girl, said Rios and his family attended a birthday party Puebla and his wife hosted Saturday. They left laughing and with no signs of trouble, he said.

Puebla said his children often played with the three girls.

"We are shocked," Puebla said. "It's really hard for me and for my wife. I don't know how I can describe it."

See posts on dear mother Ana L. Casas and sisters Katherinne G. Rios and Thannya Karolinna Rios.

Katherinne G. Rios

Katherinne G. Rios

Indiana Man Murders Wife and Kids after Arguing About Housework

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies
Published: 12/15/2005

About 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, police received a suicide call from the south side of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Arriving at the scene, officers found Simon Rios, 33, on the front porch of his home. Inside, they discovered a puddle of blood on the living room floor. Fearing the worst, police searched the rest of the house and found Rios’ wife, Ana Casas, 28, and their three children lying dead in a bedroom.

Rios told police that after he got home from work about 1:30 a.m., his wife had started arguing with him about doing chores around the house. Rios got angry, grabbed a steel pipe, and hit his wife in the head with it. Then he grabbed an extension cord and strangled her with it. He then grabbed his 20-month old baby daughter Thannya Karolinna and strangled her with his bare hands. He used the extension cord to strangle his other two daughters, 4-year old Katherinne and 10-year old Liliana. After killing his family, Rios carried the bodies of his children into the bedroom and placed them on the bed. He then dragged his wife’s body into the bedroom.

Just one day earlier to their grisly discovery of the murders, police and the FBI had searched homes in Rios’ neighborhood for clues about the disappearance of 10-year old Alejandra Gutierrez, who had disappeared a few days earlier on her way to a school bus stop nearby. So far police have not found a connection between the two cases, but because of Rios killing his family, they will now consider him a suspect in Gutierrez’s disappearance.

Friends and acquaintances are shocked and saddened by the murders and say that saw no signs of trouble in the family before the killings. Nancy Gater, a neighbor of the Rios family, said that the family had moved into the house about four years ago. When Simon lost his job earlier this year, he went down to Mexico for a while. Adolfo Puebla, the godfather of Rios’ youngest daughter, said that the Rios family had attended a birthday party he and his wife hosted Saturday. According to Puebla, the Rios family left happy and laughing. Michael Guzman, who calls Rios a great friend, said that he had never heard Rios even raise his voice to his children, and he had never had anything bad to say about his wife. "Everybody who knows him loves the guy," Guzman said.

According to court records, Rios was convicted in 2003 of a misdemeanor battery charge, but it is not clear who the victim of that assault was. The court at that time ordered Rios to stay away from the victim, but that order was lifted in July 2003. In court Wednesday Rios pleaded not guilty to four preliminary counts of murder and two counts of moving a body. Prosecutors have not indicated that they will seek the death penalty.

See posts on dear mother Ana L. Casas and sisters Liliana K. Rios Casas and Thannya Karolinna Rios.

Thannya Karolinna Rios

Thannya Karolinna Rios

Four Life Terms Provide Finality in Rios Case

Killer breaks silence with tearful apology

Rebecca S. Green | The Journal Gazette
October 7, 2007

Simon Rios wept openly as he confessed a “deep sorrow in his heart” for murdering his wife and three young daughters in December 2005.

Before Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull sentenced Rios to four consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, Rios told his wife's family, who had come from Mexico for the hearing, he found the love of God in jail.

“I'm sorry,” he said through an interpreter. “I am very sorry. The only thing that keeps me upright is the hope to be with the ones I love the most in my life.”

Standing next to his attorney, Rios' shoulders occasionally shuddered with sobs. His statements, to the grief-stricken family of his murdered wife, his dead daughters' grandparents, an immigrant community and a city, came after nearly two years of waiting - and the courtroom seemed charged with a tense sorrow.

Family members who traveled from Mexico, police officers who handled the case, victims' advocates who helped others cope with grief all filled the rows of seating. They listened to Rios speak, his words translated into English by three interpreters - one sitting next to him and two sitting amid the family and friends.

But the 35-year-old Mexican national's impassioned apology, which moved many in the courtroom to tears, did nothing to change the mind-set of Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who looked toward the weeping Rios and consigned his soul to hell.

“You will not be seeing your daughters in heaven again,” Richards said. “You will be joining the devil in hell the day you die.”

Richards recounted for the court the scene she found in the early morning hours of Dec. 13, 2005, after being called by police to Rios' South Calhoun Street home. She described the permanent memories of seeing Ana Casas-Rios, 28, and their three daughters, Liliana, 10; Katherinne, 4; and Thannya, 20 months, dead inside their home.

Having served in the prosecutor's office for nearly 27 years, Richards said she had hoped she had seen everything.

“But I had not,” she said, her own voice quaking with emotion. “I will never forget that until the day I die. … We reserve the death penalty for the most horrible crimes and the most horrible people. This is that crime and that is that man.”

Rios pleaded guilty Aug. 31 to four counts of murder and two counts of moving a body from a violent or suspicious death. He has already been sentenced in Delaware County to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 100 years, for the rape, child molesting and murder of 10-year-old Alejandra Gutierrez.

Alejandra was a classmate of Rios' daughter, and on the morning of Dec. 8, 2005, Rios abducted Alejandra from her south-side bus stopand drove her to rural Delaware County where he sexually assaulted and killed her.

He confessed to her murder and drew a map to her body - frozen in the snow at a gravel pit - after police arrested him in connection with the deaths of his family members just five days after he took the girl.

Up until the Aug. 31 hearing, Richards sought the death penalty against Rios, dropping it in exchange for his guilty pleas.

That decision, Richards said, came only because Ana Casas-Rios' deeply religious family did not want Rios executed.

And she wanted Rios to understand, without a doubt, that had it been up to her, his sentence would be different.

“You, more than anyone I have ever met, deserved to die,” Richards said.

Richards found it ironic that Rios' life was spared by the very people from whom he took so much. And she openly wrestled with the idea that he would receive treatment while in prison for his depression - a sadness she said was brought on by his own actions - while the family would likely receive little, if any support, when they return to Mexico.

She then turned to the translators interpreting the hearing for the Casas family and asked them to stop translating before she described in great intensity and detail, the last few minutes of his children's lives. Addressing Rios, she peppered him with questions about what his children might have seen or felt as he strangled each one.

“You were their father,” she said.

Richards' wish for Rios was for him to close his eyes, see what he did and be haunted by it.

Her statements stood in contrast to those offered by Rios' court-appointed attorney, Michelle Kraus.

Also struggling to contain her emotion, Kraus spoke of Rios' childhood poverty in rural Mexico, his deep sense of remorse and his new-found faith - bringing the Rev. Paul Bueter to testify for Rios. Bueter, the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church in Warsaw, has counseled Rios in jail.

“Simon's life is worth saving,” Kraus said. “He did a horrible and inexplicable thing. When a parent takes the life of a child, we have to know something went wrong.”

Having traveled from Mexico to be present at the hearing, Ana Casas-Rios' brother, Marcos, said nothing could justify Rios' actions, which not only killed his family, but also damaged many lives around him and in the community at large.

As he walked back to his seat, he broke down and wept.

Also speaking on behalf of the victims was Adolfo Puebla, a family friend and godfather of Thannya. Speaking at times directly to Rios in Spanish, Puebla said he loved Rios' daughter as his own but never saw the person Rios truly was.

Before Gull passed sentence, Rios offered one last statement through an interpreter, one last tearful apology, this one to the community that he said welcomed him with open arms.

“I saw an opportunity (in Fort Wayne) and a way to fulfill my dream,” he said. “But I allowed the forces of evil to take over. I will always regret it.”

Kraus held his hand as Gull sentenced him to a lifetime in prison for the murders and to six years in prison for moving the bodies from the scene.

After the hearing, Kraus said she wanted to offer Rios support, particularly because his own family, who had tried unsuccessfully to make it from Mexico for the hearing, was not present.

Rios had always wanted to take responsibility for his actions, from the moment of his arrest, and had even wanted to plead guilty, even when the death penalty was still on the table, Kraus said.

Monday's hearing allowed him to take that responsibility, she said.

“I believe in forgiveness,” she said. “I believe in God's forgiveness. He wants to live in a way that asks for forgiveness. If he continues to seek forgiveness and repentance, I believe God will forgive.”

Later Monday, at a news conference in her office alongside Chief Criminal Prosecutor Steven Godfrey, Richards said the plea agreement offered the Casas family something the death penalty could not - finality.

As part of his plea agreement, Rios waived all rights to appeal his sentence.

“With this, at least, it's over,” she said.


Mass Murderer Simon Rios Dies In An Indiana Prison

The News-Sentinel
By Jeff Neumeyer

FORT WAYNE, Indiana - Mass murderer Simon Rios dies in an Indiana prison, marking the end of a story that brought terrible pain and suffering to the Fort Wayne community.

Rios was found hanging after 12-30 a.m. Thursday in his cell at the Pendleton Reformatory.  There were indications the torment he caused others, became a burden too great to bear.  Attempts to revive Simon Rios failed, and he was pronounced dead before 1-30 a.m. at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Prison officials say there were no signs of foul play, and in fact, he left behind a suicide note.  His lawyer says he'd been beaten up before in general population.  Michelle Kraus/Rios' Lawyer: " He got sent back to segregation, segregation was very lonely for him, and the note would indicate that he was very lonely.  His demons just got the best of him."

Karen Richards/(R) Allen County Prosecutor:  " I think it's very mistaken at this point in time to, in any way, view Mr. Rios as the victim here."  Rios abducted, raped and murdered 10-year old Alejandra Gutierrez in December 2005.  Five days later, he killed his wife, and three young daughters in their Fort Wayne home.  Neumeyer: " Rios himself summoned police to the scene, he was waiting on the front porch when police got there. The crimes had a tremendous impact on the Hispanic community."

See posts on dear mother Ana L. Casas and sisters Liliana K. Rios Casas and Katherinne G. Rios.

Cynthia L. Miller

Cindy Miller

Man Killed Wife After Hearing Divorce Plan

Authorities: 47-Year-Old Said He Couldn't Go On Without Spouse

April 14, 2004

A man suspected of fatally shooting his estranged wife this week had just learned she planned to divorce him, police said in a probable cause affidavit.

Police said John M. Mitchell, 47, called 911 Tuesday afternoon to say he had shot his wife, Cynthia L. Mitchell, 42, in their Brownsburg-area home. John Mitchell was arrested minutes later, and his wife was pronounced dead at the scene.

John Mitchell told an officer that Cynthia informed him that morning by telephone she planned to file for divorce this week, according to the affidavit. The couple had separated in October, and he was living at a different residence, police said.

He then made plans to have dinner with her and their six children, the affidavit said. Before dinnertime, he took two guns to the home and shot his wife five times, he allegedly told police.

When an officer asked John Mitchell what provoked the shooting, he replied he couldn't go on without his wife, according to the affidavit.

One of the couple's six children -- a 2-year-old boy -- was at the home when the shooting happened, police said. As a result of the shooting, the children are staying with other family members, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.

John Mitchell, charged with murder, was being held Wednesday at the Hendricks County Jail without opportunity for bail.  His trial is scheduled for July 12. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or a prison sentence ranging from 45 years to life.