(SEYMOUR) - A Seymour man told police that he placed a plastic gasoline container in the back of a car and lit it with a towel to burn the body of a woman he had killed after an argument, according to court documents.
The body of 22-year-old Tabitha G. Brock was found Friday morning in a burning car at Enos Road and 1075 East in Jackson County.
Gerald E. Combs, 29, is facing charges of murder, arson and neglect of a dependent. Formal charges were filed against Combs Monday afternoon.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Brock fell to the floor after he struck her and died at the residence the couple shared in the 800 block of Harrell Court.
Combs told Indiana State Police Detective Jerry Gentry the incident that led to Brock's death occurred in the hallway near a bedroom of the couple's residence when he struck her throat with the side of his right hand, according to the probable cause affidavit.
However, during an earlier interview soon after Brock's body was found in the burning car, Combs told Indiana State Police Detective Craely David that he and Brock had been riding in the Pontiac Grand Am and Brock pulled out a match, lit it and "suddenly" caught fire.
That conversation occurred after David contacted Combs by cell phone, and he told her he was at a restaurant in Louisville.
Combs also told David he got out of the car, which he believed he left in drive, and attempted to pull Brock out of the burning vehicle. Combs then said he ran to the residence the two shared, the affidavit states.
During the later interview at Seymour Police Department, Combs told Gentry the two had argued Thursday night when Brock threatened to tell law enforcement that Combs had engaged in illegal activities.
Combs said he later struck her, leading to her death, according to the probable cause affidavit. He then took her body from the residence and placed her in the front seat of the Pontiac Grand Am, Combs told police.
He also told police he left the couple's 4-year-old son asleep at home by himself.
Combs said he took a red plastic gasoline can from his truck and placed it in the back seat of the Pontiac Grand Am and drove to Enos Road and County Road 1075 East.
Combs said while stopped at that intersection, he set a towel on fire and placed it in the back seat, causing the fumes to ignite. The ensuing fire caused burns on his legs, Combs told police.
Combs said he then fled to his residence and lost a shoe somewhere along the way. He told police when he arrived home, he removed a blue pair of Pacers shorts and one shoe, discarding them in the residence.
A witness told police he was watching his television around 2:30 a.m. Friday when he heard three loud bangs, which he first believed to have been gunshots, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The man said he stepped out of his front door and saw a vehicle, later identified as Brock's silver Pontiac Grand Am, rolling "very slowly" down County Road 1075 East across Enos Road. The man said the vehicle came to a stop in a grassy area without hitting anything, but the car caught fire as he approached it.
The man said both the driver's door and the passenger's door on the driver's side of the vehicle were open.
Dr. Wes Whittler, who performed the autopsy, said medical evidence obtained during the autopsy showed Brock was dead before the fire started.
Tabitha G. Brock
Gerald E. Combs
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