AP NEWS
Related topics

Inmate’s Wild Tale of 25-Year-Old Killings Leads to Lawsuit

November 15, 1996 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Three bachelor playboys slain in a plot engineered by Jimmy Hoffa and Nixon White House aide Charles Colson?

An inmate’s wild tale and an ambitious writer’s quest to solve the 25-year-old killings led to charges against an Indianapolis man.

But prosecutors backed off as the story grew even wilder _ the inmate later said he got details about the crime from God _ and now the former defendant is suing the city.

Carroll Horton, a 70-year-old former garage owner, blames the police and will seek $300,000, said his lawyer, John Emry.

``There appears to be information that what they found was false,″ Emry said. ``They presented the case to the grand jury anyway.″

Horton may also sue Carol Schultz, the free-lance writer who was seeking a Hollywood deal for a story about the 1971 case, Emry said. It was Schultz’s articles about the slayings earlier this year that focused attention on Horton.

She interviewed former Indianapolis resident Floyd Michael Chastain, who is serving a life sentence in Florida for another killing, and he named Horton and implicated himself.

Horton and Chastain, who once worked at Horton’s auto parts business, were charged in what were known as the ``LaSalle Street murders.″

James C. Barker, Robert Gierse and Robert Hinson were bound, gagged and had their throats slit. The men, ages 27 to 34, were said to be competing to see who could have sex with the most women. Police recovered a notebook that contained the names of 63 women.

When investigators who had seen Schultz’s articles interviewed Chastain themselves they believed his story: He knew unreleased details about the slayings, including that there was a cigar and leftover pizza at the crime scene.

What they didn’t know, however, was that he had gotten some of the details from Schultz, who had gained improper access to police files.

Chastain told investigators that Horton paid him and another man to kill the businessmen because one of them was having an affair with Horton’s ex-wife. A grand jury indicted Horton in April, and Chastain was the key witness.

But in a preliminary hearing in May, Chastain’s story changed. He testified that the killings were plotted by then-President Nixon and carried out by Nixon adviser Charles Colson, with help from then-labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. He never explained their supposed connection to the killings.

After Chastain unleashed his unbelievable story, prosecutors dropped the charges against both men and the judge blamed Schultz for feeding Chastain information from the police files.

Horton spent nearly six weeks in jail before charges were dropped.

Chastain eventually told authorities that his knowledge of the crime scene came from Schultz _ and God. Chastain also said he fell in love with the writer and hoped to marry her.

Schultz admitted that she had fed Chastain unreleased details about the crime scene, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman, who had reopened the case as part of a campaign pledge, said later that he had serious doubts about the evidence.

City attorney Ralph Staples, a former deputy prosecutor who helped present the case to the grand jury, will now help defend the city in a lawsuit.

``This was a full and fair investigation,″ he said. ``The only problem we had was we had a guy in Florida who said `I was at a murder and I was an eyewitness.‴