PENDLETON, Ind. — An Indiana man found dead in a ditch in April was poisoned with a toxic mushroom, and his wife and a family friend have been charged with his murder, authorities said last week.
Katrina Louise Fouts, 54, of Pendleton, and Terry Wayne Hopkins, 64, of Richmond, were arrested Friday and charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of 50-year-old David Michael Fouts. Both suspects were also charged with failure to report a dead body, and Katrina Fouts was charged with false reporting, Hamilton County Jail records show.
Hopkins is a former Richmond police officer, according to authorities.
David Fouts was found dead April 24 in a ditch along a rural stretch of road in Noblesville, about 20 miles from the couple’s Pendleton home. According to authorities, Fouts had last been seen alive about five days before the gruesome discovery.
The Indianapolis Star reported that David Fouts was a well-liked senior consultant and technology architect for Salesforce, a cloud-based software company headquartered in San Francisco. He was an avid cyclist who, according to his stepdaughter, was in good spirits the last time she saw him.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Katrina Fouts’s daughter, Carrie Lee Gentry, told the newspaper.
A probable cause affidavit states that David Fouts’s decomposing body was found shortly after 3:30 p.m. April 24. His cellphone, wallet and identification were missing, and his pants pockets were turned inside out.
He was barefoot and a bloodstained long-sleeve shirt was wrapped around his wrist. His hands bore cuts made with a sharp instrument in the fatty area below his thumbs, and duct tape residue was found around his wrists and ankles.
He had injuries to one foot that were consistent with being dragged, the affidavit states.
No other obvious injuries were found on David Fouts’s body, but investigators became immediately suspicious because there was evidence that his body had been dumped in the ditch after he died.
“Specifically, the lividity marks on the decedent did not match the location and position in which the body was discovered,” an investigator wrote.
Hamilton County Coroner John Chaflin told the Star in May that the lividity, or settling of blood after death, indicated Fouts was on his back when he died. His body was found in a different position in the ditch.
Ryan McClain, a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said that statements from witnesses in the area indicated that Fouts was dumped there several days after his death.
“We know from talking to people that there was no one in the ditch a couple days prior (to the body’s discovery),” McClain said.
“It’s a real head-scratcher,” Chaflin told the newspaper.
Investigators got a break when they learned the contents of Fouts' stomach: 14 “fairly intact” chunks of mushroom.
“The cause and manner of death were pending the outcome of toxicology tests at the conclusion of the autopsy,” the affidavit states. “Toxicology results were eventually received from NMS Labs, but the results shed no light on the cause of death.”
Chaflin sent samples of the mushroom to Dr. M. Catherine Aime, a professor of mycology in Purdue University’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. Using DNA analysis of the fungus, Aime was able to identify the mushroom as Lyophyllum connatum, or white domecap mushroom.
“L. connatum is poisonous due to muscarine, a well-known mushroom toxin,” the affidavit states.
Muscarine ingestion symptoms can range from sweating and producing excess saliva and tears to symptoms that are potentially lethal without medical intervention. Those symptoms include a slowing of the heartbeat, respiratory distress and coma.
“According to literature reviewed by Dr. Aime, the symptoms of muscarine poisoning begin about five to 30 minutes after ingestion,” the document says.
Depending on the toxicity of a particular mushroom, a lethal dose of muscarine could come from anywhere between two to 15 ingested slices, Aime found.
David Fouts had at least seven slices of the mushroom in his stomach, his autopsy showed.
“While muscarine toxicity does not usually cause death in humans, because of medical intervention, there are cases of death in humans due to acute muscarine toxicity despite medical intervention,” the affidavit states.
Toxicology reports from Fouts’s autopsy did not show muscarine in his system, but Aime explained that those results would be expected.
“She noted that muscarine has a half-life of about eight hours and is usually undetectable by 72 hours, meaning any muscarine present would likely have deteriorated by the time the body of David Fouts was found and urine samples were obtained,” the investigator wrote.
Upon learning David Fouts’s cause of death, investigators zeroed in on Katrina Fouts based on her cellphone records, the document states.
Katrina Fouts’s phone contained a screenshot of a webpage containing information about Amanita virosa, another poisonous mushroom that, in appearance, is very similar to the L. connatum.
The Amanita virosa, commonly known as the “destroying angel,” is “among the deadliest plants known to mankind,” according to the screenshot found on Katrina Fouts phone, investigators said.
When Hamilton County deputies went to the Fouts home early Aug. 25 to inform Katrina Fouts about the discovery of her husband’s body, she told the investigators that he had threatened suicide multiple times over the years.
“Katrina Fouts stated that the previous weekend, David Fouts had been saying everyone would be better without him,” the affidavit states. “Katrina Fouts said repeatedly that she felt guilty for not having done enough to help him.”
Read the entire probable cause affidavit below.
At the same time, Katrina Fouts pointed the finger at a man who had come looking for David Fouts several times in connection with an affair he’d reportedly had last year. She said the man had a problem with her husband and had said that David Fouts “was going to die” because he had previously threatened the man.
Detectives investigated the alleged mistress and multiple male persons of interest linked to the woman. They were able to clear each of involvement in David Fouts’s death.
Investigators became increasingly suspicious of Katrina Fouts after she offered conflicting statements about the whereabouts of her husband’s cellphone, which was found inside their home. She also offered conflicting information about a home she has been leasing for years in Noblesville, where her husband’s body was found.
She initially told detectives she’d “forgot” about the home.
“Katrina Fouts referred to this residence as ‘the country house,’” the affidavit states. “Katrina Fouts told law enforcement she goes to the Noblesville home daily to feed her cats that live there.”
A search of the home in Noblesville turned up a gun sling similar to one found with David Fouts’s body, authorities said.
The search of Katrina Fouts’s cellphone showed that she did not try to call or text her husband after the early morning hours of April 22, despite alleging that she did not know where he was before his body was found.
“In explaining her lack of attempts to contact David Fouts, Katrina Fouts noted that she did not try to contact him because his phone was at the house,” the document states. “She further indicated that an active protection order or no-contact order kept her from contacting police because she feared David Fouts would be arrested for violating the order.”
Indiana court records show that David Fouts was charged last September with domestic battery. A no-contact order was issued a few days later, and he was charged with violating that order.
In January, a court hearing was postponed because David Fouts was in a treatment facility out of state, the records show. The cases were still pending when Fouts was slain.
Katrina Fouts’s cellphone harbored additional evidence: searches about Indiana homicide laws, crime of passion laws, the evidence needed to secure a murder warrant in the state and “how to pass a lie detector test.”
All those searches were conducted after investigators' first formal interview with Katrina Fouts on April 26.
In that April 26 interview, Katrina Fouts alleged that her husband was an alcoholic who was mentally and physically abusive. She also reiterated her claim that he was suicidal.
“She stated she then counted her medications to be sure they were all there and researched how much of her medication it would take for David Fouts to overdose,” the affidavit states.
Cellphone records show someone searched for information on overdoses using Katrina Fouts’s phone on April 10.
“Who can help me I’m afraid my husband is at risk for suicide by overdosing on medication,” one search stated.
In the same interview, Katrina Fouts described the weekend prior to her husband’s death as a beautiful weekend. They had her daughter, Carrie Gentry, and her granddaughter over for dinner on April 18, which Gentry confirmed to investigators.
Gentry told deputies her stepfather appeared fine during the dinner.
“Carrie Gentry also stated she could not believe Katrina Fouts would not call her if Katrina Fouts did not know where David Fouts was,” the affidavit states. “Carrie Gentry additionally noted that she had communicated with Katrina Fouts after David Fouts had disappeared, but Katrina Fouts made no mention of David Fouts.”
According to Katrina Fouts, she had plans April 21 to see her father, Glen Gentry, and Terry Hopkins, a longtime family friend who also served as a caretaker to Gentry. Text messages between Fouts and Hopkins show a close relationship, with Hopkins referring to Fouts as “MKFAM,” or “My Kid from Another Mother.”
Fouts’s father backed out, so Hopkins drove to the country house in Noblesville alone.
Hopkins and David Fouts had a previous disagreement, so she decided to see him away from their home in Pendleton, she said.
“Katrina Fouts stated she had Terry Hopkins meet her at nearby grocery store in Pendleton, and Terry Hopkins then followed her to the country house,” the affidavit states.
Investigators learned, however, that Hopkins made several unusual purchases the afternoon of April 21 at a Harbor Freight store in Richmond, about three hours before he met with Katrina Fouts. Those purchases included microfiber cleaning cloths, duct tape, six-inch diagonal cutters, utility knives and cleaning gloves.
Katrina Fouts claimed that she and Hopkins “hung out most of the evening” and that several texts she sent to David Fouts went unanswered. She said she returned home in Pendleton after 3 a.m. April 22.
“Katrina Fouts noted that she and David Fouts slept in separate bedrooms, and when she returned home the inside garage door was open and the garage light was on,” the affidavit states. “Katrina Fouts stated she went straight to the bathroom, changed, let the dogs out, and then went to sleep on the couch.”
When she awoke, her husband was gone, she told investigators. She said she believed he had gone to seek mental health treatment.
David Fouts, who worked from home, never logged onto his work computer that day. Katrina Fouts told detectives she called her husband’s boss that afternoon to say her husband needed time off from work.
Cellphone location data placed both Hopkins and Katrina Fouts at or near both the country house and the Pendleton home in the early morning of April 22. Texts from their phones also indicated that, at some point, Hopkins, who is diabetic, had misplaced his glucose meter, the affidavit states.
Katrina Fouts texted him from her Pendleton home to say she had found it.
The pair continued to chat and text over the next several days.
“At 12:53 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. on (April 24), surveillance video captures vehicle driving in the area where David Fouts’s body was found off Overdorf Road, back and forth, approximately four times,” the affidavit states.
Later that morning, around 8:30 a.m., Katrina Fouts texted Hopkins and told him, among other things, “Thank you for topping off my car fluids last night and taking care of some other things I needed help with.”
David Fouts’s body was found by a passerby that afternoon.
Around 3 a.m. the following day, Katrina Fouts sent Hopkins a text telling him authorities had come to notify her of her husband’s death.
“I can’t breathe right now, can’t believe this is even real,” she wrote. “I’m supposed to call the detective back in the morning around 10 a.m. … am beyond devastated, please don’t say anything to Dad. I’m gonna have to tell him myself. Love you.”
Hopkins wrote back that his prayers were with her.
When Hopkins was taken to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for questioning about David Fouts’s killing, detectives noticed several injuries on his body. He had a bloody scratch on his face, a large open wound on his right forearm and open wounds on both hands.
“The scratches on the right hand appeared to be consistent with fingernail scratches,” the affidavit states.
He also had bruising on his chest, upper torso and other areas of his body.
Inside Hopkins' red Nissan Rogue, investigators found a box cutter and a two-way walkie talkie matching one found in the center console of Katrina Fouts’s red Volkswagen Tiguan.
“When powered on, investigators determined the two walkie talkies had been set to the same channel,” an investigator wrote.
The Indiana State Police crime lab examined the box cutter, as well as the shirt found with David Fouts’s body. Investigators had found several cuts in the fabric of the shirt.
Fibers found on the blade of the box cutter were “visually and chemically similar” to the cotton and polyester fibers of the shirt, the document says.
Several bloodstains on the shirt were also analyzed and some were found to be a mixture from multiple people. DNA testing indicated that Hopkins was one of those people.
Hopkins' blood was also found on a hydraulic lift cart he bought in the days after David Fouts was last seen alive.
The investigator who submitted the affidavit wrote that Katrina Fouts called him on May 26, at which point he told her that “she had to know … that we knew she had killed David Fouts.”
“I know,” she replied after a few moments of silence, the investigator wrote.
“I then told her we just don’t understand why it happened, and she replied, ‘I know,’” the affidavit states. “I asked her if she had thought about how she was going to tell her children. She replied that she had, and said she wanted to have them meet with her and me at the Sheriff’s Office and we could tell them together.”
Fouts called the investigator several times, sometimes expressing gratitude that authorities were “allowing her time to tie up loose ends and to get her ducks in a row so she did not have those things hanging over her head.”
The loose ends included securing home healthcare for her father, moving him closer to other family members and getting new homes for her cats and dogs.
“Katrina Fouts also told me several times that she was not going anywhere and that when the time came, she would turn herself in,” the investigator wrote.
Both Katrina Fouts and Hopkins are being held without bond.
In May, Carrie Gentry described her stepfather as multi-talented, with skills in woodworking and mechanics. He also loved animals and had adopted four greyhounds.
“He put things together,” Gentry told the Star. “He was very social and was the type of person who never met a stranger.”
David Fouts was an original member of Rollfast, a Hamilton County-based cycling group.
“He was a great guy, always smiling and acting goofy,” Matt Tanner, the group’s founder, told the newspaper.
Michael Scott, another longtime cycling friend, had kind words about his slain friend Tuesday.
“David was one of the kindest, (most) selfless people you’d ever want to meet,” Scott said.
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