Chesterton Tribune



Man who did time in Chesterton case pleads to killing woman in Gary Dunes

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A convicted sex offender who did time for trying to lure a Chesterton girl into running away with him in 2011 has agreed to plead guilty to killing a mentally challenged woman and burying her in the Dunes in Gary five years ago.

Johnathan Adam Fuller, 39, faces 40 years in prison, under an agreement reached with the Lake County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Fuller was originally charged with the murder of Sylvia Marie Jones; with abuse of a corpse, for cutting off Jones’ hands to make identification more difficult; and with altering the scene of a death.

Fuller has agreed instead to plead guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. Under the deal, he would be sentenced to 40 years and the original three charges would be dismissed.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 28 in the courtroom of Lake County Criminal Judge Clarence Murray.

Fuller, who previously resided in Michigan City, was sentenced in July 2012 to three years in the Indiana Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to an amended charge of neglect of a dependent. Chesterton Police said that, in January 2011, he was caught in the act of trying to help a 15-year-old local girl run away from her home.

When taken into custody at that time, Fuller was found to be in possession of Sylvia Marie Jones’ debit card and unsuccessful attempts to locate Jones by the CPD prompted a missing person’s investigation, according to the probable cause affidavit filed by Det. Richard Strong of the Indiana State Police.

CPD Det. Lt. Dave Adkins and Det. James Copollo subsequently spoke with Jones’ mother, a New Albany, Ind., resident, who advised that she hadn’t heard from her daughter in almost two years. But the last time Jones spoke to her mother, she did say that “she was living in Michigan City” with a man named John and “hooking,” Strong stated in his affidavit.

A records check later showed that, on Oct. 13, 2009, Jones was admitted to LaPorte Hospital after a suicide attempt and that Fuller had been with her when admitted, Strong stated. “The hospital record indicated that Johnnathan Fuller had power of attorney over Sylvia Marie Jones. The hospital records also indicated that Sylvia Marie Jones had a ‘cognitive (deficit),’ ‘mild retardation,’ and ‘bi-polar disorder.’”

Then, on Aug. 30, 2010, a man hunting snakes and lizards in the Dunes in the 8800 block of U.S. Highway 20 in Gary found what looked like a human skull, Strong stated. That grave site was excavated and, along with the skull and some bones, a pair of blue jeans and a coat were recovered. A little more than a year later, a University of Indianapolis forensic anthropologist positively identified the skull as Jones’, while a DNA test confirmed that identification, Strong stated.

Meanwhile, one month before the skull was identified as Jones’, an acquaintance of Fuller’s advised investigators that Fuller had admitted to him killing Jones. Fuller specifically told the acquaintance that he’d killed Jones with an ax, that he’d first lured her to a beach in the Gary area by telling her that they were going “to dig up some money he had buried,” that he had her dig the hole herself, and that he then used a “sledge hammer/ax” and bludgeoned Jones seven times. Fuller also told the acquaintance that he next “flattened Jones’ face,” then “cut off her hands to make it more difficult to identify her by fingerprints,” and finally buried Jones in the hole which she had dug.

“Fuller commented to (his acquaintance) that he thought it was funny that he tricked (Jones) into ‘digging her own grave,’” Strong stated.

Investigators spoke as well to Fuller’s ex-wife, who advised that Jones had lived with her and Fuller for two months in the fall of 2009 and that Fuller told his wife at the time that he was taking Jones’ “Social Security money.” But Jones was “having problems with the Internet and talking to strangers” and that is why Fuller “got rid of her,” his ex-wife told investigators.

Finally, Jones’ mother advised that, when she told Fuller she was going to call the police and report her daughter as a missing person, Fuller threatened her. “You ain’t going to never see your daughter or talk to her again,” she remembered Fuller saying. “If I have to I’ll come get you too. I’ll do you like I did her.”

Fuller, for his part, tells a different story in the plea agreement. In October 2009, he stipulates, he agreed to drive Jones to a homeless shelter and for reasons not disclosed stopped in the Dunes area north of U.S. Highway 20 in Gary. There he became angry with Jones, allegedly because he saw her engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a young male relative of his, and “while acting under sudden heat” struck her with a “blunt object.” He admits cutting off Jones’ hands but no mention is made of who dug the woman’s grave.

Fuller was previously convicted twice in Porter County of sexual battery, in 1998 and 2000; and twice of attempted theft, in 2000 and 2003.


Posted 4/2/2014




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