Judge finds probable cause in motel killing

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Indiana man accused of strangling his wife

By Sarah Bennett

District Judge Kim Shumate decided Wednesday to forward a murder charge against an Indiana man to a grand jury following a hearing.

Lonnie Daughtery, 37, is accused of killing his wife, Michelle Daughtery, on June 25 in a Holiday Inn Express room in Elizabethtown. He also is charged with one count of cruelty to animals for killing the couple’s cat.

Daughtery reportedly admitted to Elizabethtown Police Department investigators that he killed both his wife and the cat. He told a detective that his wife wanted to commit suicide and could not complete the act by herself.

Detective Clint Turner of the Elizabethtown Police Department appeared as a witness at Wednesday’s hearing in Hardin District Court.

When police arrived, Turner said, they discovered both Daughtery and his wife on the bed. The cat was lying on Michelle Daughtery’s chest.

Both the cat and Michelle Daughtery were strangled and dead when police entered the room, he said.

Autopsies have confirmed death by strangulation, Turner said.

Michelle Daughtery also had a cut on her arm and several on her ankles, all of which were inflicted post-mortem, as well as bruising on her face, he said.

“The bruising on the face is consistent with a possible punch or strike to the face,” Turner said.

Turner interviewed the suspect in Hardin Memorial Hospital’s emergency room where Daughtery was taken after police arrived, he said.

Lonnie Daughtery told Turner, his wife, Michelle Daughtery, wanted to commit suicide, so he gave her pills, which she vomited. Next, the couple tried to use a razor blade and scissors to cut Michelle Daughtery, but that did not work, Daughtery told police.

After the cutting did not work, Daughtery strangled his wife, Turner said.

The cut on the victim’s arm was the only cut congruent to Daughtery’s statement to police, Turner said, but it was inflicted after death, he said.

Investigators at the scene found pills, scissors and a razor blade, he said. However, Turner said he could not confirm if the pills were prescribed to Michelle Daughtery.

Notes also were found in the Daughtery’s hotel room, but Turner said he did not see any written by the victim.
Police have interviewed multiple people in the course of the investigation, Turner said, and Lonnie Daughtery is the only person to mention his wife’s suicidal nature.

According to Turner, the police interviewed two people who were drinking  alcohol on the motel patio with the Daughterys the night before Michelle died.

Both told police that neither Michelle nor Lonnie Daughtery mentioned anything about suicide and they detected no signs of negative emotions in the couple, Turner said.

The Daughterys were visiting from Noblesville, Ind., and arrived in Elizabethtown on June 22. They were supposed to check out of the hotel June 25. When the couple failed to do so, hotel maintenance entered the room and discovered them.

Daughtery’s case will go before a grand jury within the next 60 days. He is charged with murder and second-degree cruelty to animals.

He is lodged at the Hardin County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.