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Family, friends raise money to demolish site of Fort Wayne killings

Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 6:38 am

Family and friends of two teens killed in a December double-homicide-suicide hope to raise enough money to demolish the house where the pair died and put a memorial on the site.

People close to Erin Jehl and Ryann Tipton, 19, were hosting a benefit garage sale 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Shoner Park in the Springwood subdivision, which is located near the southeast corner of Cook and Coldwater roads.

Through the sale and other fundraising efforts, organizers hope to raise enough money to buy the house at 3229 Lima Road – currently listed at about $32,000 – and turn the site into a memorial garden, said Jehl's mother, Lynn Schneider.

“Everything has been really negative, so far, out of this tragedy,” Schneider said. “The house is an eyesore. It's just hard to look at.”

Police have the man who was living at the house, 43-year-old Bart Heller, shot and killed Jehl and Tipton before turning a gun on himself. All three were found dead inside the house Dec. 10. According to police, Jehl and Heller had been in a dating relationship that ended before the shootings.

Tipton's father, Steve Tipton, said the memorial garden would provide a way to bring some good out of the tragedy.

“There's still a lot of pain,” Steve Tipton said. “This is trying to get out and do something positive.”

Half a dozen people browsed a small barn Friday afternoon, looking at rows of clothing, furniture, antiques and other standard garage-sale fare. Schneider estimated that about 30 people had visited the sale, with more expected Saturday.

Schneider said she also would set up a fund Monday at local 1st Source banks for donations toward buying the house. If organizers cannot raise enough money to buy the house, they would use the money to start a foundation for people grieving victims of violence, she said.