The initial Camm investigation contained many disparate ISP reports by over 40 troopers and detectives but had no overall indexing of subject matter or identity of witnesses. Neither was there a table of contents or cogent administration of over 1,000 pages of investigative and laboratory reports. The crime scene and autopsy photographs had also been co-mingled without any indexing, and all the reports had been on paper, eliminating any possibility of an electronic search.
Additionally, individual reports occasionally read like a chronology of the daily log of a detective/trooper—i.e., in the morning, he/she had attended mandatory breathalyzer refresher training; in the early afternoon, he/she had conducted a background interview on a prospective trooper; and later he/she had contacted a possible Camm murder witness.
While it was accurate the ISP had been well behind times in terms of records management, it was also true that such poor administration was somewhat beneficial for the prosecutors. The defense would spend, and ultimately waste, many hours trying to find germane interviews and references to events or whatever issue was being searched. It took me several days to assimilate the following information:
The basketball games had taken place every Thursday evening at the newly-built Georgetown Community Church (GCC) Family Life Center, which contained classrooms, a kitchen, elevated running/walking track, and a full-court gym. The arrival and departure times for the games had normally been 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. with a varied number of men showing up, ranging in age from late teens to 55 years of age, the oldest person being Sam Lockhart. The week prior to the murders only eight people, rather than the desired ten, had shown up, and the men couldn’t play their preferred five-on-five full-court games.
Access to the locked gym had been gained through Jeff Lockhart, the son of the church’s pastor, Leland Lockhart, who was a brother to Sam. The church gym was located about three-and-a-half miles from the Camm residence with the driving time being around five minutes, more or less, depending on the traffic and weather.
Those round-ballers, at least according to the ISP Regional Investigative Commander (RIC) Lieutenant James Biddle, were supposed to have been interviewed the night of the murders. However, with the exception of Sam Lockhart and his son, Phillip, who had raced to the crime scene where they were later first interviewed, none of the other players had been contacted until two days after the murders. That was an astounding revelation, for not timely interviewing witnesses who were with a murder suspect prior to his finding his family murdered is considered a major breach in investigative protocol.
In fact, when they were interviewed, the ball players had been contacted by detective Todd Prewitt, who’d been called to Sellersburg from the Seymour ISP Post on Saturday, September 30. Once there, he had sat for several hours until he’d been directed by ADIC Neal to interview the ball players.
Amazingly, though, Prewitt had been told by Neal just to telephonically interview the men. That order didn’t make sense from a logistical point of view because everyone lived within thirty minutes of the post. It also didn’t make sense from an investigative aspect because as seasoned a detective as Neal should have known personal interviews allowed a detective to gauge verbal and non-verbal reactions to questions, which might have been critical in formulating other questions and judging credibility.
The fact the ball players had been treated in such an off-handed way strongly suggested the ISP didn’t think they were important witnesses two days after the murders. Still, Prewitt had followed his orders and done as he’d been instructed to do by Neal.
According to Prewitt’s later account, the purpose of his interviews “…was to talk to these people as soon as possibleso they could get the freshest recollection of the events on the guys that David Camm had played basketball with.” Among the questions posed to the players were 1) what time did David Camm arrive, 2) what time did he leave, 3) what was he wearing, 4) what kind of vehicle was he driving, 5) did he personally own hand guns, 6) did he have any personal or family problems, and 7) did anyone ever threaten him.
Nine ball players were contacted over the phone, including Phillip Lockhart, with Prewitt’s apparently not knowing he had already been interviewed twice by other detectives. That meant the ISP investigators most likely hadn’t communicated among themselves, not a good practice in an investigation with dozens of investigators conducting interviews. Regardless, according to those present, Camm had been at the gym at 7:00 p.m. or within a minute or so of that time.
Prewitt’s efforts had yielded other results: a total of 11 guys had showed up, with the last one being Sam Lockhart, around 7:15-7:20 p.m. Prior to Sam’s arriving, there had already been ten players present; thus, they had already begun to play their desired five-on-five full-court games. David Camm had been among those ten.
The five-on-five games had lasted for around two hours with three guys leaving prior to or right at 9:00 p.m., leaving eight players, along with Camm, who had agreed to play another game. After that four-on-four game, the recollections of all, in addition to Camm’s own, had been consistent: he had left the gym sometime between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m.
As I finished reading Prewitt’s last report, I was totally flabbergasted. Clemons’ sworn assertion in the arrest affidavit claimed Camm had left the gym around 9:00 p.m. That was flat-out not true. Prewitt had very accurately secured the information on Camm’s true departure time a day prior to Clemons’ affidavit. No one said he left at 9:00 p.m.––not a single player! The most elementary aspect of Clemons’ timeline had been off by at least 15 minutes, if not more. At best, it meant that Clemons had been woefully ignorant of Prewitt’s information, confirming there’d been no coordination or dissemination of critical information; at worst, well, at worst it meant Clemons had willfully distorted his own sworn affidavit.
Reading further, but not in any interview with the ball players, I found the door to the entrance of the gym had also contained a security alarm. Jeff Lockhart had been entrusted with the key and alarm code, and it had been he who’d unlocked the door to the gym and disengaged the alarm. After the last game, he’d engaged the same alarm just prior to locking the same door. On each occasion, both entering and leaving the gym, David Camm had been present, his presence witnessed by several other players.
It had taken several days after Camm’s arrest for the ISP to even get those alarm records. They had finally done so—but only after learning Camm’s uncle, Nelson Lockhart, a retired police officer, had previously asked the alarm company for those records.
Amazingly, what those records reflected was the alarm had been disengaged at 6:59 p.m. and re-engaged at 9:22 p.m. 9:22 p.m.! I couldn’t believe it. Clemons’ alleged time of Camm’s departure had been off by 22 minutes!
Further corroborating that departure time were the cellular phone records of some of the players who had called their wives or girlfriends, as records of those calls verified they had been made within a minute or two after 9:22 p.m.
The stories provided by Camm and the other ball players, as independently verified, were very consistent with one another and completely refuted Clemons’ timeline allegation. It was unimaginable a homicide investigator could get such an easily provable and critical fact completely wrong. It was an egregious error, but it also enabled their manufactured timeline to fit with Camm’s killing his family after he’d left the gym.
Additionally, the distance from the gym to Camm’s house took four to five minutes to drive, further meaning Camm had arrived home around 9:26–9:27 p.m. Two or three minutes later, at 9:29 p.m., he had made the frantic call to the ISP Post.
The deductions from those known times, at least according to the allegations in Clemons’ affidavit, had been that within two or three minutes of arriving home, Camm had completed all the following:
Ambushed his family;
Forced Kim to disrobe;
Placed her shoes neatly on top of the car;
Engaged in a life and death struggle with Kim;
Inflicted 22 wounds on her;
Emerged from the struggle with his wife unscathed;
Methodically shot and killed his wife, daughter Jill, and son Brad;
Removed his son from the car to engage in the ruse of CPR;
Retrieved a mop, bucket, and cleaning solution from the middle of the house;
Cleaned and manipulated the blood flow for an unstated purpose;
Toted, spilled, and then tossed the cleaning solution off the back deck;
Returned the mop and bucket to the middle of the house;
Called the ISP Post screaming for help; and
Somewhere during those few minutes, managed to hide or destroy the murder weapon.
The times alleged by Clemons also meant that the blood-serum separation in Kim’s blood flow had to have occurred by 9:42 p.m. when the first ISP units arrived at the scene and noticed the distinct color change. The separation, therefore, had to have occurred within 17-18 minutes. If the timeline were accurate, not only had Camm achieved superman status in accomplishing all those events, but he had also been able to overcome nature—e.g., he had enabled the natural phenomena of blood-serum separation to have occurred within mere minutes rather than an hour or so needed at every other crime scene.
Such events, which would have enabled Camm to murder his family as alleged by Clemons and Stan Faith, were not only beyond improbable but impossible. Totally impossible. Why hadn’t someone within the ISP or Faith’s office realized that prior to Camm’s arrest? I had to take a break from my office as I walked outside in the crisp autumn air, asking just what the hell had happened to cause the demise of common sense.
After several minutes, I began the search for the mystery witness who supposedly had heard the three “interpreted” gunshots that had killed Kim, Brad, and Jill. In one of Clemons’ own reports, I was surprised to discover the witness was Debbie Ter Vree. Debbie was one of Camm’s aunts and the youngest Lockhart daughter who lived in the house in the woods just north of the Camm residence as she, her husband Bob, and eight-year-old daughter Hannah shared the common driveway with the Camm family.
On the morning after the murders, Ter Vree, still in shock, had walked down her driveway, spoken with Clemons, whom she had known for several years, and asked him if he could come to their house. Hannah had been experiencing nightmares, her mother had explained, and perhaps a comforting word from a police officer she knew might help alleviate some fears. Hannah, not only related to Brad and Jill, had also been best friends with each, and had been devastated when told of their deaths.
Aerial photo of the Camm residence taken by me in 2005. The blacktop driveway leads into the woods
(lower left) to the residence of the Ter Vree family; across the gravel road was the home of Camm’s grandfather.
During their walk to her house, Ter Vree had mentioned to Clemons that she had put Hannah to bed around 9:00 p.m. the night before, and several minutes later she’d heard some sounds. Debbie, when later interviewed on tape by Clemons, had described those sounds as “…thump, thump, thump or bang, bang, bang. And I thought my husband was knocking with his fist on the…computer desk or whatever…” She told Clemons she’d walked to the computer room and asked Bob if he’d been making the noises, and he told her he hadn’t.
Debbie was married to a former police officer and was herself a former emergency responder. One had to think she knew the sound of gunshots and would have told Clemons if that’s what she heard. During her taped interview, she hadnever mentioned or implied the noises she’d heard could have been shots. Ter Vree, in fact, had been completely unaware of Clemons’ “interpretation” of the sounds she’d heard until several days after Camm’s arrest. When finally told Clemons had distorted her story to support the arrest of her nephew, Ter Vree had been livid.
I was dumbfounded. If Clemons had wanted to know the cause of the three sounds, why hadn’t he simply asked Ter Vree: “Those sounds, could they have been gunshots?”
To determine what Ter Vree had heard, though, I pored through the ISP reports. Shortly after ISP trooper Josh Banet had arrived on the scene at 9:42 p.m., Camm, restrained from going into the garage by his uncle Nelson, had begun to scream in an unintelligible manner. He then, as witnessed by several people, had viciously struck the tailgate of his truck with his balled fist. Then, he had fallen to the ground, in a fetal position, and had begun shrieking, “WHY MY KIDS? WHY MY KIDS?” and “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!”
As others had attempted to get Camm off the ground, Banet had stopped them, telling them to let Camm get it out.
Knowing that Clemons had “interpreted” the strikes to the tailgate as gunshots, I was equally sure that Camm’s screams had been “interpreted” by some as Camm acting as a grief-stricken husband and father.
Other questions arose, as I was mystified as to how ADIC Mickey Neal and RIC James Biddle, supervisors who each presumably had been aware of the details of the ongoing investigation, would or could have allowed Clemons to swear to inaccuracies or if they had even seen the affidavit.
Prosecutor Stan Faith, of course, had also signed the affidavit. Had he been duped by Clemons? Even if he had been confused or deceived, intentionally or otherwise by Clemons, Faith obviously wasn’t a stupid man. In the days after Camm was arrested, it had to have been obvious to him, or anyone who knew the details of the case, the affidavit he and Clemons had presented to the judge had not only been inaccurate but hadn’t contained the probable cause needed to arrest Camm.
Timeline On Day Of Murders
Okay, if the murders hadn’t occurred after 9:15 p.m., what time had they happened? Strangely, there was nothing I could find in any report where a time or range of times was articulated. Was that oversight or intentional? Regardless, piecing together several reports revealed Kim and the kids had a very busy day, particularly after school. After Brad’s grandmother had taken him for his allergy shot around 4:00 p.m., Kim had taken Jill to her dance class, which had lasted from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Next, after a quick visit to Kim’s parents’ home, the three had been off to Brad’s swim practice from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. All those activities had taken place in New Albany, between ten and 12 miles from their home, meaning they’d arrived home well after 7:00 p.m. and certainly after Camm had already been playing basketball.
In another report, a neighbor interviewed within hours of the murders told of having just sat down to watch a 7:30 p.m. television program when he’d seen Kim’s black Bronco pulling into Lockhart Road, a few hundred feet from the Camm house. That tightened the time frame and begged the question of the likelihood of kids and Kim still having been alive in the Bronco and garage, almost two hours after they arrived home.
Back-timing the separated blood meant Kim had been shot at least an hour or so before Camm had found her, or around 8:27 p.m. at the latest.
All of this information meant Faith and Clemons had to have recognized their deduction of 9:15 p.m. wasn’t remotely accurate, and knowing Camm couldn’t simultaneously be playing basketball in the gym and killing his family in the garage, Clemons and Faith had to realize they were faced with a huge conundrum. That meant, I thought, only three courses of possible action: 1) acknowledge they didn’t have enough evidence to charge or arrest Camm, thus admitting they screwed up big-time and in the process face a severe backlash from the public; 2) also admit someone else, still at large, was the murderer, and face even larger repercussions; or 3) keep silent about their humongous error, admitting no error whatsoever, while they silently changed their theory on when and how Camm had committed the murders.