The House at Heartland Crossing

When a male couple in their 70s were brutally killed in their Indiana home last fall, it seemed like a clear-cut hate crime. No one suspected that the killer might be a man whom one of the elderly victims had met while cruising online.

BY Tim Murphy

April 05 2009 11:00 PM ET

1026 HEARTLAND MICHAEL BROWN X390 (INDIANAPOLIS POLICE) | ADVOCATE.COM

But then, says Sharon, Brown called her out of the blue in March 2008 to say that Hendricks was chronically incontinent (true, she says) and needed to be put into a nursing home. Though she says that she and her husband were stunned to receive such advice from a stranger, they didn’t talk to Hendricks or Lindgren about it because they didn’t want to interfere with their lives too much.

Then, one weekend in August 2008, the outdoor telephone and cable wires to the men’s home were cut. Lindgren had them fixed, but they were cut again the next night, this time with the homophobic note left on the front door. By this point, according to both Roudebush and Marker’s housemate, Elizabeth Lilly, Brown was no longer living with the men. Still, he was around the house a great deal, and his car (a Toyota or Honda, Lilly recalls) was a familiar sight in the men’s driveway. When Lindgren came over to show Marker the "fags" note, she says she urged him to call the police. But after the officers arrived, they told Lindgren that they couldn’t get fingerprints off the paper, Lilly says. (The police report doesn’t mention anything about fingerprinting the note.)

Kent says Lindgren told him and others in the nudist group about the incidents but that Lindgren “just didn’t think it was a big deal.” Yet Roudebush says that when she talked to her father, shortly after his 70th birthday, on August 31, she detected a strain in his voice. “He said, ‘You know, there’s these kids in the neighborhood pestering me. If they’d just leave me alone.’ He was frustrated, but nothing to the point where he thought his life was in jeopardy.”

Then, in late September, according to the probable-cause affidavit from the prosecutor’s office, Lindgren and Hendricks showed up at their local post office, concerned that they hadn’t received mail in a long time. They became “visibly upset,” according to a postal staffer, when they learned that, back in February, Hendricks’s signature had been forged on a card requesting that the men’s address be changed to another in Indianapolis -- an address that, in the police investigation, showed up on items alongside Michael Brown’s name. Soon after the men changed their address back, they learned that Brown had been using their credit cards.

Prosecutors believe that Lindgren and Hendricks were murdered sometime between October 5 and 10. According to Marker and Lilly, several days passed when they didn’t see the men and the house seemed closed up, but they figured the two had rented an RV and gone off with the dogs to visit Lindgren’s sister in Minnesota, as they often had. Lilly says she eventually left two messages on Lindgren’s cell phone to see if the men were OK. Marker’s recollection during this period is eerie: She got home late from work the night of October 6 -- she happens to be a criminal defense lawyer -- when Brown walked up, seemingly out of nowhere, and asked if she’d seen the men recently. She remembers that Brown said something about looking after the men’s mail while they were on vacation but that he thought they should have been home by then. At the time, Marker knew nothing about Brown’s defrauding the men, but she says, “Something about that night just didn’t feel right.” Still, she says, she didn’t think to call the police. “Something like what ended up happening just really didn’t enter my head.”

There was a nudist potluck on October 19, a day before the bodies were found. Kent and the others there remarked on Lindgren’s absence. Normally he’d let them know if he wasn’t coming. But Kent didn’t call or e-mail Lindgren. “I guess I didn’t think anything about it,” he says.

Tags: Crime

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