SCOTTSVILLE – An Indiana man has been indicted in Allen County on murder and other counts in connection with an incident that police believe was a robbery that turned deadly.
Derek Robert Lucas, 21, of Jamestown, Ind., will be arraigned Tuesday in Allen Circuit Court on charges of murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence.
Lucas and two other Indiana residents are accused of being responsible for the death of Justin Wix, 47, whose body was found May 7 outside the camper where he lived at 151 Stinson Lane in Scottsville, near the Tennessee state line.
Wix suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to police.
Sevonte Sumpter-Bey, 20, of Brownsburg, Ind., and a 17-year-old juvenile have also been charged in connection with Wix’s death.
The juvenile was identified last month in court by Kentucky State Police Detective Jonathan Johnson as Rylan Wiles.
Sumpter-Bey and Wiles are incarcerated in Indiana for unrelated offenses, while Lucas is in Allen County Detention Center in Scottsville under a $1 million cash bond.
At Lucas’ preliminary hearing last month in Allen District Court, Johnson said Lucas was “basically the organizer” of the robbery plot and recruited Sumpter-Bey and Wiles to rob Wix.
Johnson said the homicide case had “grown stagnant” with little in the way of leads or suspects until June 9, when a juvenile from Indiana contacted KSP claiming to have information about Wix’s murder.
Johnson and another detective traveled to Indiana to speak with a juvenile, who claimed to have overheard Lucas, Sumpter-Bey and Wiles boast of their involvement in the homicide.
Wiles and Lucas invoked their right to an attorney when they were contacted by police, but Sumpter-Bey proved more forthcoming, placing himself, Lucas and Wiles at the scene.
“(Sumpter-Bey) did admit to his part in the murder and robbery,” Johnson said in video footage of the October preliminary hearing. “He indicated that Lucas had traveled to Wix’s house previously and saw that Wix had a pretty substantial amount of money and drugs.”
Lucas was familiar with Wix’s residence from an earlier visit with Sumpter-Bey’s uncle, Johnson said.
Sumpter-Bey detailed to police that he dropped a knife as he kicked open the door to Wix’s camper and did not realize it until he had left the scene.
Police recovered a knife, with Johnson testifying that associates of Wix’s interviewed by police said they did not know Wix to carry a knife.
Sumpter-Bey disclosed that he and Wiles forced their way into the camper, while Wix exited through another door and saw Lucas, Johnson said.
“(Wix) saw Mr. Lucas, recognized him from being there previously, apparently realizes what’s going on and shoots either at Mr. Lucas or up in the air,” Johnson testified, going on to say that Lucas ran back to his vehicle.
Sumpter-Bey identified Wiles as the person who shot Wix, Johnson said.
Wix was wounded by three bullets, one striking him in the buttocks and passing through both thighs, another entering his back and a third entering his front below his rib cage.
Police seized about an ounce of methamphetamine from Wix’s residence, Johnson said.
In an arrest warrant, Johnson said that Sumpter-Bey claimed that a gun was taken from Wix’s possession after the incident, and that firearm, along with the gun used to shoot Wix, were thrown in a creek in Indiana.
Police talked to a neighbor who claimed to have heard gunshots early in the morning of May 7, but saw no activity when she looked toward Wix’s residence, situated across a field about 300 yards from her window, Johnson said.
Wix’s body was found by a man who had previously arranged to trade vehicles with him. That person contacted a relative of Wix’s, and his ex-wife called 911 after going to the property and seeing the body, Johnson said.
A cellphone number registered to Lucas pinged at a cell tower near Wix’s residence on the day of the slaying and a camera at a toll bridge spanning the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana photographed a car registered to Lucas crossing into and out of Kentucky on the morning of Wix’s death, Johnson said.
Lucas was charged initially with murder and first-degree robbery at the time of his arrest. The grand jury added the burglary and tampering charges.