In Depth with Brad Byrd: Father, attorney talk about Kristy Kelley’s death investigation

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Todd Scales and his attorney, April Edwards are joining Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd to talk about Scales’ daughter, Kristy Kelley and her death investigation.

Kelley was last seen in 2014 at a Boonville VFW Post, but her body was later found inside her car at the bottom of a lake.

The Warrick County Sheriff’s Office sealed the records, ruling Kelley’s death an accident.

But on Wednesday, an Indiana Supreme Court ruled to unseal those records.

Full Transcription:

Brad Byrd: Welcome to in-depth. As we first reported Wednesday an Indiana appeals court ruled in favor of a Warrick County man seeking to obtain full information of the investigation into his daughter’s death. The body of Kristy Kelley was found in her SUV submerged in a pond in rural Warrick County after a month-long search. That was four and a half years ago. The Warrick County Sheriff’s Office immediately sealed the investigation report saying the death was the result of an accident. The story gained national attention. Joining me tonight is Todd Scales, Kristy Kelley’s father and Mr. Scales Attorney April Edwards who argued the appeal before the court last week. Todd, you and your wife, Kathy, who is here tonight, sat at this table four and a half years ago. your daughter was missing at that time. When you called me yesterday you near tears? Tell me about your feelings.

Todd Scales: Just happy. I’m glad that maybe we can get some resolution.

Brad: And when did you start feeling that something was not right about what you knew about Kristy’s death?

Todd: That was pretty immediate, I would say from the time we realized her cell phone was left behind. My heart sank. She would never ever have left the cell phone behind and I don’t know of her leaving and going back to retrieve it. So, for her to have left it behind was a major red flag from the start.

Brad: And how did investigators, when you talked to them, what was the response? What did they tell you why they weren’t opening up this case file to you?

Todd: First thing, when I did talk to Sheriff Kruse, and everything, I was told that sometimes in your youth, you do things you don’t want your parents to know, and I basically left it at that. But after looking into it, and after going through bank records, Facebook accounts, things of that natures, I could never find anything that was so horrible that a parent, and at this point, I’ve already lost my daughter.

Brad: And Ms. Edwards, this appeal was won because the Sheriff’s Office did not consider this a criminal investigation. The ruling, that is the ruling that the Appeals Court made. Explain that to me.

April Edwards: From the time she went missing, it was focused on trying to find her, so it was entirely a missing person’s investigation up to the point where they discovered her body. And then within 24 hours Sheriff Kruse and the Coroner declared it to be an accident and that was the end of it. There just was never a criminal investigation. We felt that there should have been, it should been turned over to the Grand Jury, follow up instigation once you found the body, to determine all of the unanswered questions that became obvious when they did find her body.

Brad: And there was surveillance video of security cameras that apparently – we’re not sure if that was Kristy in the vehicle that was heading south of Boonville?

April: Well, the police said that they thought it was and the timeline was kind of established from that, but that was one of the first things that Todd and I wanted to try to obtain when we started out by simply asking or sending letters asking for that because we had hoped and I had spoken to someone at the state police who said they would help us clean it up – apparently it was grainy footage – Todd had not seen all of the videotapes that they pulled from around town. We wanted to see, was it in fact Kristy? Was it in fact her car? Was anybody in the car with her? Could you see anyone following her that we would recognize?

Brad: September 17, 2014 Sheriff Kruse sat at this table – this was the night after or two nights after Kristy’s body was found – and I asked him “are you certain that this was indeed a tragic accident” he said no evidence of foul play, no suspicious activity. From that point on, did you believe that?

Todd: I still had questions. Things kept haunting me – the damage done to the vehicle – there was a lot more damage than I would have ever anticipated from just hitting water. As time went on and we continued to look and try to find what happened that night – we found pieces of her car – actually pieces from what we believed to be her car, but later found out it was indeed from her vehicle. And then had a gentleman take a look at her car.

Brad: And both of you can respond to this – social media – and comments on social media. Sometimes constructive comments and sometimes comments full of poison venom. Alcohol content that was in Kristy’s body – you tell me basically what was discovered in the toxicology reports doesn’t really add up. Tell me why.

April: Well, according to the medical examiner because of course they took blood from the chest cavity and they tested it and it was 8.11 blood alcohol level, however when bodies decompose – Kristy was found over 30 days after she had gone missing – when bodies decompose that ethynyl in your body becomes elevated, so the medical examiner concluded in the autopsy report that her BAC at the time that they think she would have gone missing would have been 0.04 to 0.06, certainly not enough to impair a driver.
Brad – Are you prepared to look at that report now?
Scales – Yes.
Brad – And regardless of what it finds, will that bring some type of closure to you?
Scales – Aboslutely. I’d like the report to be looked at by a forensic pathologist to confirm or deny and let’s see if we can get some answers.

Brad – Ms. Edwards, as an attorney, as an advocate for Kristy Kelley, what specifically are you looking for in that report that may be a red flag for you?

Edwards – You know, I don’t think it’s so much the toxicology report becuase that came back six weeks later, to me the significance was that even if the law enforcement and coroner had presumed that she was intoxicated and that explained why she left the roadway, and her car was found at the bottom of the lake and that’s the reason they declared this an accident within the first 24 hours of finding her body, surely to goodness when you get these results back five or six weeks later and the medical examiner concludes that is wasn’t enough to really explain that, you know, to impair a driver. Certainly not to the point of…if you look at it, you leave the roadway, their car ends up in a lake, no signs of trying to get out, but the car’s in park, the keys are out of the ignition, the seat belt’s been taken off, no signs of a seatbelt contusion, nothing to indicate what you’d expect especially with the front end damage to her vehicle.

Brad – Any word from the Sheriff’s Office that it is going to seek to have this sent up to the Indiana Supreme Court?

Edwards – I had a very gracious email that indicated they were going to take some time to digest this opinion and he would be consulting with his client.

Brad – And Mr. Scales, if you could, if you could talk to Kristy now…

Scales – Oh my.

Brad – What would you say to her?

Scales – You know, I wouldn’t know where to start. I really wouldn’t. I love you, I miss you. I of course want her back, but I realize that’s not going to happen. But if we could get closure, at least find out what happened, be it good, bad, or otherwise, then it’s just that. If we can have closure, we can have peace. 

Brad – And let’s not forget, she was a mom of two kids. So this is affecting a lot of people. Thanks for joining me tonight.

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(This story was originally published on April 18, 2019)

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