Brian E. Hartman

Randolph County Man Killed Dad, Helped Mom Kill Self

February 24, 2010

WINCHESTER, Ind. — An eastern Indiana man arrested in his parents' deaths told investigators they had "made a plan" for him to fatally shoot his father and help his ailing mother overdose on medication, according to a court document filed in the case.

Brian "Scott" Hartman, 33, was arrested Tuesday night on preliminary charges of murder and assisting a suicide, hours after police found the body of his father in the garage of the family's rural home, said Randolph County Prosecutor David Daly. Hartman told investigators that his father had been dead for nearly two weeks, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Hartman learned of the charges at the Randolph County Jail, where he has been held since his arrest Saturday on a burglary charge for allegedly breaking into a residence near his parent's home shortly before his mother's funeral.

According to the affidavit, Hartman told police he and his parents had "made a plan" in which he would fatally shoot his father while he was sleeping, then provide his mother with enough medication to take her own life.

Daly called the deaths "shocking" but said Wednesday that he could not comment on whether he believes that Hartman and his parents devised the plan.

"To me it doesn't matter whether I believe it or not," he said. "It doesn't matter. In Indiana you can't consent to a murder, and assisting a suicide is still assisting a suicide."

A Randolph County judge agreed Wednesday to give prosecutors until Monday to file formal charges against Hartman. Daly said he expects to formally charge Hartman on Friday in the deaths, at which time the court will appoint him an attorney.

According to the affidavit, Hartman told investigators he fatally shot his 53-year-old father, Brian E. Hartman, on Feb. 12 as his father was asleep at the family's rural home, about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Brian Hartman told investigators that he then moved his father's body to the garage and placed it in a container, the affidavit says.

Hartman also told investigators that he provided his mother, 52-year-old Cheri Hartman, with more medication than she normally took and that she consumed those drugs and died hours after her husband, the affidavit states.

Relatives told The Star Press of Muncie that Cheri Hartman had been diagnosed three years ago with brain cancer.

An autopsy was not conducted because it was assumed the death was a result of her illness, and her remains were later cremated at the direction of her son, according to the affidavit.

Relatives told the newspaper that after the elder Hartman was last seen Feb. 12, Brian Hartman told them his father had abruptly left on a trip because he was distraught over his wife's failing health, and left him in charge of making arrangements.

They became increasingly concerned when the elder Hartman failed to attend his wife's funeral and had not called them.

"Everyone was told a different story," Lisa Cougill, sister of the elder Hartman, told The Star Press on Tuesday, shortly before her brother's body was found.