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Homicide suspect arrested at IPFW

City man confessed to killing two people in Indy on Dec. 25.

Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 7:51 am

What police said began as an Internet chat room conversation resulted in a double homicide in Indianapolis and the arrest of the suspected killer Wednesday morning in an Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne dorm.

City resident Christopher L. Rodgers-Conwell, 20, of 1542 Reed Road in the Regency Park apartment complex, on Wednesday night confessed to killing Avery Elzy and Michael Hunt, according to Sgt. Paul Thompson, an Indianapolis Police Department spokesman. Thompson, who said he observed about 15 minutes of the approximately four-hour interrogation of Rodgers-Conwell, declined to give a motive for the Dec. 25 fatal shootings.

“What he said and what we think happened as far as the reason for the killings don’t match up,” Thompson said. Elzy and Hunt, who lived together, were found dead in their home along with one of their dogs, which was also shot.

Thompson said Rodgers-Conwell first said Qualin Starks – who was also arrested – was with him in Indianapolis, but then recanted. Starks faces charges in Fort Wayne unrelated to the homicides.

Thompson said Rodgers-Conwell used a woman’s name to refer to Elzy, and one of Elzy’s neighbors said Elzy dressed like a woman and used a woman’s name. However, Thompson said Elzy’s sexuality is not believed to be related to the killing.

The license plate number and distinct features of one of Elzy’s cars, which was stolen after the killings, helped lead police to Rodgers-Conwell, Thompson said. The car, which has custom rims, television monitors in the headrests and the phrase “sexy and independent” on the rear bumper, was seized after Rodgers-Conwell’s arrest.

Rodgers-Conwell was arrested around 11 a.m. in a dorm where he was a guest, said Officer Scott Tegtmeyer, a Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman.

The arrest comes 8 1/2 months after student Liette N. Martinez was fatally stabbed in her dorm by Tina L. Morris on April 18. Morris – who on Sept. 19 was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison for murder – was staying in the dorm as a guest of her daughter, Tanzania Morris, who was Martinez’s roommate. Tina Morris stayed in the dorm for about two weeks, violating the 72-hour same-sex maximum stay.

Several students were surprised to hear about Rodgers-Conwell’s arrest and differed on whether monitoring of guests has improved since the Martinez slaying.

Junior Danielle Rosebrock said guests must now sign in at dorms, and campus police patrols have increased. “They’ve stepped it up,” she said.

However, junior Kyle Walls said security can be thwarted if students allow in guests who don’t belong on campus or allow guests to overstay. “There’s really not much they can do to stop it,” Walls said of campus police.

Walt Branson, IPFW vice chancellor for financial affairs, said he didn’t know how long Rodgers-Conwell was a guest, but agreed it’s ultimately up to students to ensure the guest policy isn’t violated.

“We have resident assistants in every building, but they’re still not going to notice everything that’s going on,” he said.

After the Martinez slaying, an emergency e-mail alert system was established, but Branson said it wasn’t used Wednesday because no one was in danger. “We really want to only use that in the case of emergencies,” he said.