[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TENN., IND.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Mar 31 11:28:24 CST 2005
Suspect in Tennessee death may have ties to other cases----Hitchhiker
accused of killing woman who gave him a ride
A man wanted in the death of an Oklahoma woman whose body was found in
Tennessee last week was arrested Wednesday in northwestern Pennsylvania
and may have ties to other crimes, Erie County District Attorney Brad
Bobby Joe McCauley, 30, is accused of killing 29-year-old Amanda Bateman.
He was brought late Wednesday before Erie County District Judge James
Dwyer on charges of 1st-degree murder and being a fugitive from justice.
He is being held on a $1 million cash bond.
"Mr. McCauley is a person of interest -- to us, the Pennsylvania State
Police, and potentially to the FBI -- in other investigations," Foulk
Henderson County, Tennessee, authorities issued a warrant for McCauley's
arrest after finding Bateman's body March 23 in Natchez Trace State Park
off Interstate 40 in western Tennessee, according to Jennifer Johnson with
the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in Nashville.
Authorities were pointed to McCauley after a phone call he made to a
family member on Bateman's cell phone.
"McCauley called his mother and said he had killed someone," Johnson said.
Bateman had earlier called her own family, saying she had given a ride to
a stranger in Memphis, Tennessee. She was en route from Chandler,
Oklahoma, to visit her parents in Franklin, Tennessee -- about 200 miles
northeast of Memphis -- but never arrived.
Her car later turned up near Dallas, Texas, with McCauley's fingerprints
in the car, Johnson said. McCauley is a diagnosed schizophrenic and has
not been on his medicine for the condition, Johnson said.
McCauley was arrested about 3 p.m. Wednesday at a Harbor Creek,
Pennsylvania, truck stop, just northeast of Erie along Interstate 90,
following a tip called into an FBI field office in the state.
According to Foulk, McCauley was captured without incident by state and
local law enforcement officers, along with FBI agents, as he stood at a
pay phone. Foulk said the suspect has been cooperative with investigators
and told them he knew why they were there.
"He indicated he was hitchhiking and was just passing through Erie
County," said Foulk.
Bateman's mother, Ann Phillips, said her daughter made it a practice to
give rides to strangers.
"She picked up hitchhikers. She felt that was her way of serving God, by
helping people," Phillips said. "We really don't approve of it. We felt it
was too risky for her to do, but she felt that it was a good thing."
David Phillips, her father, said Bateman picked up hitchhikers so she
could share her Christian faith.
"She has done that all over the country and this is the first problem
case, but she -- probably even knowing that something like this would have
happened -- she'd still do it ... and died for people's sins."
The McCauley case bears some similarities to a string of unsolved murders
across at least six states over the last 3 years.
In February 2004, investigators from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana,
Tennessee and Mississippi met at Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
headquarters to compare notes on at least 7 murder cases, but considered
The female victims in the earlier cases range in age from 19 to 47 and had
a striking number of similarities:
- Most were last seen at truck stops along Interstate 40 in Oklahoma.
- Most of the victims' bodies were found dumped along highways.
- Most had a history of prostitution or were known prostitutes.
- Most of the victims' bodies were found naked, with no other belongings
in the area.
- Some were sexually assaulted.
In the McCauley case, Bateman was traveling along I-40 in western
Tennessee when she allegedly picked McCauley up. The interstate runs
through Natchez Trace State Park, where her body was found.
Authorities have not released information on how Bateman was killed or the
condition of her body.
Asked if there was a connection between McCauley and the unsolved cases,
Johnson said: "Anything that fits this M.O. (manner of operating) will be
looked at, certainly. We can't rule anything out."
Indiana town less angry at suspect
No matter the season, good weather or bad, he would sit in front of his
mother's trailer, often stoned, watching traffic go by, his friends say.
He had dropped out of school in ninth grade, and five years later had no
job, no car, no driver's license and no apparent plans for the future.
Now, charged with murdering a 10-year-old girl who may have stumbled upon
methamphetamine being consumed or made in late January, Charles James
"Chuckie" Hickman has become a symbol of the depravity and callousness
that the drug can wreak on even the quietest town.
Hickman told police that he wanted only to frighten Katlyn "Katie"
Collman, to keep her quiet, according to court papers. But he could face
the death penalty after being accused of leaving Katie to drown in a
creek, with her hands tied behind her back.
Hickman, 21, has pleaded not guilty to felony murder and criminal
confinement and is being held without bail in the Jackson County Jail,
pending a trial scheduled for Oct. 26.
He also was charged earlier this month with an unrelated felony -- child
molestation. Authorities say he had sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Despite the heinousness of the accusations, Crothersville's rage seems
directed more at the drug, meth, than at Chuckie, as he is widely known.
Community leaders say that is in part because Hickman comes from a
hard-working family that has lived in the small town for generations: An
uncle on his father's side works for the city street department, and two
relatives on his mother's side teach in the Crothersville schools. One
The lack of venom directed at Hickman also may be explained by the fact
that few people who know him think he could have acted alone in Katie's
"Chuckie could never have pulled this off himself -- he doesn't have the
guts or heart to do it," said Christina Wilkins, 28, a friend and neighbor
who trusted Hickman so much she let him play video games and basketball
with her 6-year-old son.
"He's a follower," Wilkins said.
Crothersville Police Chief Norman Ford said investigators have heard
similar assessments and are investigating whether others played a role in
Katie's death, which drew national media attention, including a front-page
story in The New York Times.
The only others charged so far, Timothy O'Sullivan Jr., who owns the truck
in which Katie allegedly was driven to the creek, and a 17-year-old
juvenile, declined to be interviewed about Hickman or the crime. Both are
charged with giving false information to investigators. They have pleaded
Hickman, who has no criminal record as an adult, according to
Crothersville police, declined to comment for this story, as did his
appointed lawyer, John Plummer III of Bedford, Ind.
Hickman's mother, Sandra, told The New York Times that her son was
addicted to methamphetamine but that he had falsely confessed to
involvement in Katie's murder for fear of being killed himself.
She and other family members, including Hickman's father, Donald, who
lives in Seymour, Ind., have recently declined to answer any questions
about him. Katie's father, John Neace, said he knew Hickman by face but
not by name and that he had nothing to say about him.
Hickman's friends say it was no secret that he had used drugs for years --
starting as young as age 13 -- and often was under the influence.
Randall Bowman, a 17-year-old friend and neighbor who was expelled from
Crothersville High School in 9th grade, said: "Everybody knew he was
getting high. You could tell by the way he acted."
Affected by divorce
Former teachers said Hickman never recovered from his parents' divorce in
1994, when he was in 5th grade in Crothersville.
"He was a little boy starved for love," said Janet Hall, his 5th-grade
teacher. "You would yell at him, then hug him."
She said she unsuccessfully implored his parents to come in for
conferences and warned that if they didn't get a handle on him, Chuckie
would be lost. "You can tell when somebody is turning a corner," she said.
Hickman's parents both worked at factories in Jackson County, and together
they grossed about $1,300 a week the year they were divorced, according to
court papers. His mother was awarded custody of Chuckie and his older
sister, Traci, and raised them in a 14-foot-wide mobile home worth $12,900
on Armstrong Street, Crothersville's main drag.
By the time Chuckie Hickman got to 8th grade, he was acting out in class
and getting suspended, said retired teacher William Nagle, who now serves
on the Crothersville city council.
"He wasn't mean," Nagle said. "He just wasn't motivated."
Friends and teachers said Hickman had endearing qualities. "He loved his
mother to death," said Christina Wilkins, and he didn't put others down,
"Chuckie had a soft heart," Bowman said. "Everybody liked him."
Even after dropping out of school, Hickman retained his passion for
basketball, playing in the city park. "He could really shoot the three,"
said Kevin Ainscough of Columbus, Ind., another former classmate.
Matt Wilkins, Christina's brother and Chuckie's best friend, said that
until he moved away three years ago, the pair often walked the 3 miles to
Square Pond to try to catch bass and bluegill.
Settlement from accident
At age 18, Hickman came into what was for him a small fortune -- a $35,000
settlement won because he was thrown from a car during an auto accident
when he was a child, Matt Wilkins and several other friends said.
Ford, the Crothersville police chief, who responded to the accident, said
Chuckie was 2 or 3 years old at the time and was cut severely; he still
bears a scar across his forehead.
Ford said Hickman's family pursued a claim in Washington County courts.
There is no record of a verdict or settlement there.
Matt and Christina Wilkins said, however, that Hickman told them he used
part of the money to pay off his mother's trailer, which is still listed
in county records in her name.
Matt Wilkins said he used other cash to buy used cars, though at the time,
Hickman's learner's permit had been suspended for failing to pay a ticket,
state records show.
Asked why somebody with no license to drive would buy a car, Matt Wilkins
said, "That's just Chuckie."
Friends say Hickman had recently been spending increasing amounts of time
with 2 friends who lived nearby and who Wilkins said she urged him to stay
away from -- Curtis Collman Jr., 28, (no relation to Katie) who pleaded
guilty last month to manufacturing meth, and Jeff Tatlock, 22, who was
charged with making the drug in December when the house he was renting
blew up. Authorities say he was putting the final touches on a batch of
meth. Tatlock has pleaded not guilty.
Hickman also had been spending more time at the Penn Villa apartments.
Hickman told investigators that Katie had seen residents making or using
meth at the complex, FBI Special Agent James Douglas Koons said in an
The people Katie had seen were concerned that she "would tell someone
about what she had seen, so they decided to scare her with the hope that
she would be intimidated enough to keep her observations to herself,"
Koons wrote of his interview with Hickman.
Police have not identified the people Katie saw, but according to the
affidavit, Hickman said Katie was brought to his residence, where her
hands were tied. A plan was hatched to take her to Cypress Lake, 19 miles
north of Crothersville, after dark to scare her into silence.
Hickman first told investigators that Katie fell into a creek that runs
out of the lake and that he might have "bumped" her into the water. Her
body was found there Jan. 30, 5 days after she disappeared.
Hickman's friends, meanwhile, are left with their questions, their doubts.
They say they can't picture him hurting a child, or anybody else.
Christina Wilkins said Hickman is so sensitive that he cried a few months
ago when she accused him of stealing her lighter, which he had
"Chuckie is not a monster," she said.
(source: The Couirer-Journal)
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