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 HOUSE X100 (AJ MAST) | ADVOCATE.COM

The next day, Brown brought his concern about the two men to next-door neighbor Kevin Tetrick. The two approached the house, which started the dogs barking inside, and got into the house via an open back window. They were immediately assaulted by an odor of decay. Tetrick declined to go upstairs, but Brown did, calling down, “Oh, my God, there’s blood everywhere.” Lindgren and Hendricks, found in their separate bedrooms, were killed by blunt-force impact to the head -- brutally bludgeoned, probably with something like a baseball bat, according to the police report.

Brown attended Lindgren’s memorial service, appearing to most family members as just one of Lindgren’s gay friends. “I hugged him and I didn’t know” that Brown was a suspect, Brandvold says, horrified. Roudebush, however, says she surmised that day that Brown was the killer, based on an answer to a “very pointed question” she’d asked a detective. (She declined to disclose the question -- or the answer -- because of Brown’s pending trial, which at press time was scheduled to begin in March.) Did she want to lash out at Brown in that moment? “No, that service was about respecting my dad and giving him the service he was owed,” she says. “I wasn’t about to make a scene.”

In a nutshell, a lengthy paper trail showed that Brown had racked up thousands of dollars (in furniture, mostly) on the couple’s credit cards, and was stowing away their personal effects and identification papers at the home of yet another unsuspecting (heterosexual) couple miles away. Detectives tracked Brown to California, where he’d fled in the days after the memorial service. He was arrested there and was returned to Indiana, where he was charged with the men’s murders, the assumed motive being to keep them from reporting his thefts.

Having pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, Brown is being held at Marion County Jail in Indianapolis. He declined to be interviewed. His lawyer, Roscoe Stovall, did not return messages seeking comment, nor did Julie Esslinger of Franklin, Ind., the woman identified as Brown’s girlfriend in the probable-cause report. Though Brown may have been dating a woman, after his mug shot was released, some men in the nudist group said they recognized him from local gay bars, Kent says.

When the case concludes, Roudebush will retrieve the men’s personal effects from the house at Heartland Crossing and turn the property over to the mortgage company. She gave the men’s dogs to Dachshund Rescue of North America Inc. “I’ll say this till the day I die,” Roudebush declares: “My dad died due to ignorance. He was too nice a person. Too trusting.”

Tags: Crime

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