DH Fleenor Executed For 2 Indiana Murders

DH Fleenor was executed by the State of Indiana for a double murder

According to court documents DH Fleenor would break into the home of his inlaws and waited for them to return to church. When they did return Fleenor would shoot and kill his former mother in law and her husband: Bill and Nyla Harlow

DH Fleenor would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

DH Fleenor Photos

DH Fleenor – Indiana

DH Fleenor Case

The evening of December 12, 1982, DH Fleenor murdered Nyla Jean Harlow and Bill Harlow, the mother and stepfather of his estranged wife, Sandra Sedam. Fleenor committed the murders in the Harlows’ home in front of Sandra, her son, and two other Harlow grandchildren. DH Fleenor was charged in the Jefferson Circuit Court with two counts of murder and one count of burglary. The trial was moved to Johnson County, where a jury found DH Fleenor guilty of each of the charges. The record shows the following facts.

The night before the murders, DH Fleenor was drinking in a bar. He told an acquaintance that he was going to “kill all five of them” and that he also ought to kill Judge Hoying of the Jefferson Superior Court. 11 TR 3567, 3569, 3581.[1] Fleenor also told this acquaintance that he would see Fleenor in the paper. 11 TR 3575-76. DH Fleenor told the bartender that he would probably never see Fleenor again because he would be spending the rest of his life in jail. 11 TR 3590. Late the next morning, Sunday, December 12th, he told a friend about the problems he was having with the Harlows and said that he ought to get a gun and kill them. 11 TR 3603, 3613-14. That afternoon, with the help of another friend, Fleenor bought a .22 caliber pistol and some ammunition from an acquaintance. 11 TR 3622-26. The Supreme Court of Indiana continued the story in Fleenor I:

During the course of the afternoon, [Fleenor] consumed approximately four beers, and he smoked a marijuana cigarette. He did not appear to be drunk or out of control to his companion. Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Sandra Sedam and Nyla Harlow were Christmas shopping at a department store. At the store, they encountered [Fleenor], and they talked to him for about ten minutes. [Fleenor] was agitated and might have been drinking before this conversation. At approximately 6:30 p.m., [Fleenor] sought out Sandra Sedam at a church service. He behaved properly in the church, he apologized for the earlier meeting, and then he left.

514 N.E.2d at 82-83. DH Fleenor then got a ride to the Harlows’ home from two other friends, Michael Albert and Ron Griffin. Fleenor told them that two girls lived there and that their father did not like him. He asked Griffin to go to the front door and, if a man answered the door, to say he was looking for “John Smith.” As Griffin went to the door, he saw Fleenor duck down in the back seat of the car. 11 TR 3700-06, 3682-84. No one answered the door. Griffin returned to the car. Fleenor then got out of the car and said he would wait for the people coming back to the house. After Griffin and Albert drove away, Fleenor broke into the Harlows’ home by prying open the back door. He replaced the screws to conceal the breakin. *1025 He hid in a bedroom closet and waited. 12 TR 3780-81.

At about 7:30 p.m., Bill and Nyla Jean Harlow returned home from church with Sandra Sedam, Sandra’s son Justin, and Bill Harlow’s grandchildren Billy and Angie. At that time Justin was two years old, Billy was ten, and Angie was twelve. Bill and Nyla Jean started talking about DH Fleenor having shown up at the church. At that point, Fleenor appeared in the hallway. He shot Bill in the abdomen. Bill collapsed to the floor, but that wound was not fatal. (The coroner testified that the shot to Bill’s abdomen did not penetrate the subcutaneous tissue, did not enter the abdominal cavity, and would not have been fatal. 10 TR 3429-30.) Fleenor ordered the two women and the children to sit on the couch and not to help Bill. To make his point, Fleenor threatened to kill two year old Justin if they did not follow his orders. 11 TR 3737. After a time Fleenor allowed Nyla Jean to go to her husband Bill. As she tried to assist Bill, Fleenor took aim and shot her in the top of the head from across the room. The shot was fatal, but she made noises for a time as if she were suffering. 11 TR 3739-40; 12 TR 3933. Fleenor then ordered Sandra and the two older children to carry her into the bedroom. 11 TR 3739-40.

Fleenor later discovered that Bill Harlow was still conscious. Bill was asking about his wife and begged Fleenor not to leave him there. Bill told him that he was unable to get up, but Fleenor said that he had once been shot and had been able to move. 12 TR 3938. Sandra pleaded with Fleenor not to shoot Bill again, but Fleenor said, “You know I have to … I can’t let him suffer any more.” Fleenor then fired one more shot into the back of Bill’s head, killing him. 10 TR 3429-30, 12 TR 3908, 3938.

During the evening Fleenor became concerned that other family members might come to the Harlows’ home, so he forced Sandra, Billy, Angie, and Justin to drive with him to the home of James Sedam, Sandra’s brother.[2] Fleenor then ordered Angie to tell James that they were going out of town for a few days, and he threatened to shoot the others in the car and the people in James’ house if she did not follow his orders. 11 TR 3743; 12 TR 3909, 3940. Angie gave James the message, and Fleenor, Sandra, and the children then returned to the Harlow home. Fleenor barricaded the children into one room, and he and Sandra spent the night in another bedroom. 12 TR 3875-76. The bodies of Nyla Jean and Bill Harlow were still in the house. The next morning, Fleenor took money and a checkbook from Bill’s wallet and Nyla Jean’s purse. Then he, Sandra, Billy, Angie, and Justin drove to Tennessee. While in Tennessee, Fleenor called his mother in Indiana and told her that he thought he had killed the Harlows. A few days later, a SWAT team of Tennessee police surrounded the house where Fleenor and his family were staying. Fleenor held his family hostage for a time, threatening to kill the children if the police interfered. 12 TR 3776, 3951. He was eventually arrested by the use of force. 10 TR 3446-60; 12 TR 3771-78, 3952-53.

https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp2/47/1021/2527663/

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