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Last updated on Thursday, September 20, 2012
(BLOOMINGTON) - The Monroe County Sherriff’s Department Detective Shawn Karr says Andre Christopher Tracey Wells, murdered his stepfather, 51-year-old Robin Sowders.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Well is accused of hitting his Sowders with a blunt object the night of or early morning of October 23 or October 24, 2010.
A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Police were called to Sowders' home in the 1500 block of East Moffett Lane in Bloomington, the evening of October 24, 2010 after Debra Sorrells, a friend of Sowders went to visit him.
There she found Sowders lying in his office in a large pool of blood moaning.
Police say Sowders' face was severely beaten and his eyes were swollen shut. Sowders was incoherent and was taken to the Bloomington Hospital for treatment and then flown by helicopter to Methodist Hospital where he died from his injuries on October 25, 2010.
While police were investigating the crime scene, Sowders' wife, Melissa Sowders and her then 16-year-old were at the police station to file a restraining order against her husband.
According to police, Melissa did not know her husband had been injured. She told police that her husband had threatened to cut her son to pieces on October 23, 2010 and that is why she was requesting a restraining order.
Melissa told police she had been working security for a party at the Four Winds Hotel when her husband and her older son Andre Wells came to the hotel and had dinner.
She says her husband was intoxicated and caused a scene and was asked to leave the hotel. She told police her husband was accusing her of having an affair.
Melissa told police that Wells had to forcibly remove Robin Sowders from the hotel property and took him back home. They left around 11:30 p.m.
Melissa says she stayed at work, but turned her cell phone off because her husband kept calling and sending text messages. When she got off work, she turned her phone back on and found the text message threatening her younger son who was with Robin at his home on East Moffitt Lane.
She told police she immediately called her son. The teen told his mother he was scared and had locked himself in his room. Melissa told her son to climb out his window and run to the neighbor's house where she would pick him up.
Melissa, after picking up her son, drove a few feet to their home and heard her husband in the back yard. The two went into the house, grabbed some clothes and left. They then went back to the Four Winds Hotel and stayed the night.
After police interviewed both Melissa and her son, they learned that Robin Sowders had been placed on life support. Hospital personnel say Sowders had been hit across his forehead with a blunt object.
Detective Karr then went back to the home to help process the crime scene.
On the morning of October 25, 2010, Karr interviewed Andre Wells. He told police he had gone to the Four Winds for dinner, and Robin Sowders was drunk and had been told to leave the hotel.
Wells told police that around 11:30 p.m. he and Robin left and he took Robin home. He then went to the home of Stepanie Persohn's on Orchard Lane in Bloomington and spent the night. He told police that the next morning went to his father's home on Vernal Pike.
He told police he had not heard from Melissa, but thought she or his younger brother tried to call him and he might have talked to them, but he was too high at the time of the call to remember.
Later, on October 25, 2010 Detective Karr was contacted by Robin Sowders' family and was told Robin had suffered severe brain damage and they had decided to take him off life support. He died shortly after that.
On October 25, 2010, Karr and Detective Johnson conducted several interviews with the staff of the Four Winds Hotel who were working the night Robin Sowders was causing the disturbance.
Police learned there was another woman with the men. It was Tristani Hawkins Wells' new girlfriend.
Police obtained search warrants for the cell phones of Melissa Sowders, her young son and Andre Wells.
On October 26, 2012, Dr. Roland Kohr, a board certified forensic pathologist at Terre Haute Regional Hospital, performed an autopsy on Robin Sowders. He concluded that Sowders died from a single blow across the forehead which shattered the frontal bone of the skull. Kohr says, the blow was consistent with having been caused by some form of blunt object.
On October 28, 2010, Detective Karr interviewed Padee Bailey, a staff member at the Four Winds Hotel. She was working the night Sowders was asked to leave the hotel.
She told police that on October 24th she had meet Melissa Sowders in the restaurant across the street from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. There Melissa told her she was waiting to meet with a detective so she could file a restraining order against her husband. Bailey, told Melissa she was surprised she was doing that because Robin had been attacked and was in the hospital. Bailey told police Melissa seemed somewhat surprised by the news that Robin was in the hospital.
Detective Karr wrote "I found this interesting in that the conversation between
Padee Bailey and Melissa Sowders had taken place immediately prior to my interview of Melissa Sowders. During that interview, she had not seemed to have any knowledge of the victim being injuried until I had told her so, which had been well into the interview."
Karr says over the course of the next several weeks and months, tips were called in by the victim's family and those tips were investigated and several interviews were conducted.
One of those interviews was with Wells' ex-girlfriend Stephanie Persohn.
Wells had told police he had stayed with her the night of the attack. Persohn told police he hadn't, but then she told police she wasn't sure, because he sometimes did spend the night even though they were no longer dating.
On December 8, 2010, Karr and Detective Johnson interviewed Wells' father, Andre Wells Sr. He told police that his son and his girlfriend had arrived at his home at 11 p.m. on October 23, 2011 and stayed the night. He told police he remembered, because it was his birthday.
On December 15, 2010, detectives interviewed Tristani Hawkins, who was with Wells and Robin Sowders at the Four Winds Hotel on Oct. 23, 2010. She told police they had all gone to the hotel for dinner and that her and Wells had taken Sowders home. She told police that her and Wells then left Sowders' home and when too Stephanie Persohn's house for a short time, and then stayed the night at Wells' father's house on Vernal Pike.
Police asked Hawkins if Wells had told her anything about what happened to Robin Sowders and she said he hadn't. She told police the two had just started dating and Wells didn't tell her things. And, she had told Wells that her policy was "the less she knew the better."
On April2 8, 2011, Detective Karr interviewed Bobby Bellamy. Bellamy started dating Melissa Sowders, shortly after the Robin's death. He was now her ex-boyfriend. He told police Wells had told him that he had hid in a closet and then jumped out and hit someone with a frying pan in the head, and then stomped the person until he urinated and defecated on himself. Bellamy could not tell police that Wells was talking about Robin, but he believed he was.
Karr says that story was somewhat consistent with the crime scene, as there is a closet in the hallway of the house. "We had never released the fact that other than the injury to the victim's head, there had only been one other injury. That injury had been a cracked sternum, consistent with having been stomped on," Karr wrote.
On May 24,2011, Detective Karr interviewed Brian Thompson. Thompson told police he had information concerning the murder of Robin Sowders. He told Karr he had been friends with Andre Wells when Robin was killed. He told police that a few days after the Robin's death, Wells had taken him to the crime scene and told him he had killed Robin.
Thompson says that on Oct. 23,2010, Wells had received a phone call from Melissa Sowders who had told him that Robin had been threatening his little brother.
According to Thompson, Wells and Phil Turientine, had then driven from Andre Wells' Sr. house on Vernal Pike to Robin Sowders' house on Moffett Lane near Smithville.
Once there, Phil Turientine stayed in the car, and Wells went inside. Thompson says Wells told him, he went in the house and got into an argument with Robin. Wells then left the house, got some duct tape from the garage and wrapped his hands with it.
Thompson told police, Wells says he went back into the house and beat and stomped Robin to death.
Thompson told police that Wells had confessed to the crime when he and Wells were at Robin's house stealing tools from the garage. He also stated that they took a musical instrument of some kind.
Brian Thompson also stated he had talked to Phil Turientine, who corroborated Wells' story. Turientine told Thompson he had to go into the house and pull Wells out.
Thompson could also describe the inside of Sowders' home, and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
Over the course of the next few months, June 2011 through November 2011, Brian Thompson, who was working with police, recorded three separate conversations with Andre Wells.
Although the Robin's name was not mentioned in the recordings, Brian Thompson says they were talking about Robin's murder. Karr says it is clear in the tapes the two men were referring to Robin Sowders.
The first conversation was on September 21, 2011. In that conversation, Brian Thompson told Wells that he had heard rumors that Phil Turientine was telling people that Wells was responsible for the murder.
Wells replied saying, "Phil was retarded but needed to be kept close
because, he was running his mouth."
Later, Brian Thompson tells Wells he thought Phil Turientine had told Jeremy Kopp that Wells had forced him to go to the Robin's house the night of the homicide. Wells replied, "Nice. He wasn't even there."
Brian Thompson also stated he was afraid Phil Turientine might go to the police. Wells stated he thought that could work both ways because it was his word against Turientine's.
Brian Thompson also stated that he wished he knew what Phil Turientine actually knew. Wells, replied, "He doesn't know enough. He doesn't know enough to scare me."
The second conversation occurred on September 29, 2011.
Brian Thompson again suggests that Phil Turientine was claiming Wells killed Robin with a wrench instead of duct taped hands and wonders what is next.
Wells states, "A gun. We shot him."
At one point in the conversation, Brian Thompson tells Wells he doesn't want to see him go to jail "over that shit" meaning Robin.
Wells replies, "It was some punk ass shit anyway. Most motherfuckers don't even know what happened or what went down, they just jump straight to the point."
He then states, "That fucker shouldn't have been talking shit. He said some shit he
shouldn't have said."
Brian Thompson asks, "About Aaron?" Wells replies, "He said he was going to kill him ..... That isn't going to happen man. That's my brother. Fuck You. You know what I mean? You gotta do what you gotta do."
The third conversation takes place on October 9, 2011. In this conversation Brian Thompson asked Wells if he took Phil Turientine with him the night of the murder. Wells denied Phil Turientine was there.
Karr says, it is clear in this conversation that Brian Thompson and Wells are talking at different times about the homicide. Wells at different times talks about Robin, threatening Aaron Palmer and if someone is going to make threats like that then they should carry them out. At one point he also stated that if someone is going to make threats they should be prepared for whatever is going to happen.
Brian Thompson then begins to talk about the Robin's family and some threats Cody Sowders possibly made earlier on to Wells. Wells stated he wasn't there and didn't know what had happened. He then states, "I would do it ten thousand times over again."
Karr wrote that at no time, during any of these conversations does Wells deny he killed Robin Sowders.
Karr wrote that during all of the investigation, police analyzing the phone records of the Robin, Melissa Sowders, her younger son and Andre Wells.
Those records indicated that on the evening of Oct. 23, 2010, Robin had sent numerous text messages to Melissa Sowders from 9:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., almost every few minutes.
At 11:30 p.m. the messages stop. All of Robin's phone activity stops by 12:08 a.m. on Oct. 24, 2010, except for incoming calls. Detective Karr says that at 12:07 a.m. and 12:08 a.m. someone accessed Robin's voice mail box on his cellular phone.
The records also show that Melissa Sowders did call Wells at 11:27 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and they talked for almost three minutes. Then, the records show that Wells' cell phone, shortly after receiving the call from Melissa Sowders, begins to move from the north part of Bloomington near Andre Wells' Sr. house and moves South and begins using a cellular tower that the Robin's cellular phone used the entire time it is known that Robin was at home (near Smithville) at approximately 12:07 a.m. and 12:08 a.m. when two calls are placed by Robin's, one of which is to Melissa Sowders. Wells also placed calls to his father and girlfriend Tristani Hawkins near that time, but they both told police Wells had been with them that entire evening at Wells Sr.'s house.
On December 20, 2011, Andre Wells was incarcerated in the Monroe County Jail on
federal weapons violations. Karr interviewed him on that date again, and confronted him with some of the above information. After several minutes of questioning Wells, Karr accused him of the murder, Detective Karr pointed out Wells had not denied killing Robin. Wells then stated he didn't do it and asked for a lawyer.
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