Off-duty Ind. CO dies after bonfire altercation

Police were still seeking details about what happened at the crime scene

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.

MARKLEVILLE, Ind. — A Markleville man is dead and a former Pendleton man is charged with murder after a reported altercation at a bonfire shortly before midnight Thursday.

Police were still seeking details Friday evening about what happened at the Markleville scene.

Pictured is Officer Uriah Wilson. (Photo/Madison County Sheriff's Office)
Pictured is Officer Uriah Wilson. (Photo/Madison County Sheriff's Office)

Uriah Wilson, 29, was found dead about 11:30 p.m. in the 3600 block of Indiana 38. He was an officer at the Madison County Jail and was off-duty at the time of the incident.

Sheriff Scott Mellinger said a suspect, Joseph Michael Hartley, 29, originally from Pendleton and now residing in Germany, was taken into custody. Hartley faces a preliminary charge of murder and is detained at the Hamilton County Jail on a 72-hour hold.

Hartley was arrested at the scene, on property owned by his father. Wilson and Hartley were friends, attending Pendleton Heights High School together, according to people who knew them personally.

Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay declined to comment Friday on injuries Wilson suffered. An autopsy will be performed today at St. Vincent Anderson Hospital.

Dunnichay said there were no signs of an entry wound from a bullet, though "the initial call was for a gunshot wound,” she said. “There was a gun at the scene."

The investigation was halted between 4 and 7 a.m. Friday as authorities waited for daylight.

The shooting took place east of Markleville on a rural property connected to the highway by a tree-lined drive leading to the south. A manufactured home and a large barn sit on the property, where several vehicles were parked late Friday morning.

Two signs along the driveway warn against trespassing, and another announces, “If you can read this, you’re in range.”

At the request of Sheriff Mellinger, Indiana State Police are investigating.

“I will not comment on other details, due to the fact that ISP will be conducting the investigation to avoid any perception of conflict of interest,” the sheriff said.

A press release from the state police stated that, just after 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Madison County received a 911 call reporting that a male had been shot and possibly killed outside of a home.

The initial investigation indicated that two men who were sitting at a bonfire had an altercation, resulting in gunfire. When deputies arrived, they found Wilson dead outside the home. It is believed that Wilson had been visiting at the home where the incident occurred.

According to records with the Madison County Treasurer’s office, the property where the incident took place is owned by John Hartley; police identified him as Joseph Hartley's father.

Wilson had worked at the Madison County Jail for five years, most recently as a supervisor. He was not married. His father resides in Madison County and his mother lives in New York state.

“My prayers are with his family, and with his co-workers here during this difficult time,” Mellinger said.

©2017 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.)

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