Jeremy Bledsoe, 31, of Reelsville stands accused of shooting Kathryne -- his wife of 10 years -- to death Wednesday morning in the couple's home. At his initial hearing on Thursday morning, Judge Matthew Headley, at the request of Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, ordered Bledsoe held without bond.
Kathryne's aunt, Krista Downs, said Kathryne, 31, had just told her husband she wanted a divorce the day before she was murdered.
Downs said incidents of violence had happened throughout the Bledsoes' decade-long marriage, but that she never thought things would escalate to possible murder.
"Sometimes in the back of my mind I'd think maybe it could happen, but Kathy kept assuring us everything was OK," she said, breaking down into tears. "This just doesn't seem real. I can't believe she's gone."
Downs said Bledsoe was obsessive about keeping tabs on Kathryne, with whom he eloped to Las Vegas after a short courtship, and would call and text message her constantly. He would also sit in his car outside her place of employment while Kathryne worked and insisted on knowing her work schedule at all times, Downs said.
Kathryne's oldest sister, Jennifer Whitlow, said Bledsoe threatened her recently.
"He told me that if I planned to take his kids I would regret it," she said.
The Bledsoes had lived in Reelsville for two years. They moved to Putnam County from Brownsburg. Kathryne, who was one of five siblings, was a cosmetologist, and worked for Great Clips in Greencastle.
Bledsoe asked for a public defender, and Headley assigned Todd Sallee to the case. Headley told Bledsoe that murder was "its own class of felony," and that if convicted Bledsoe could face 45 to 65 years in prison (the advisory sentence is 55 years). He explained to Bledsoe his rights, and asked him if he understood.
"Yes," Bledsoe said, never raising his eyes.
Headley set a pretrial conference for Bledsoe for March 4.
Bledsoe allegedly left the scene of the murder shortly after Kathryne was shot. He remained at large for over 12 hours until he was apprehended in the Cataract area at about 11:35 p.m. Wednesday.
Two of the Bledsoes' children -- a 3-year-old boy and a 20-month-old girl -- were in the house when Kathryne was shot. Also present was Jeremy's grandmother, Ava Bledsoe, who lived with Kathryne and Jeremy and reported the shooting to authorities.
Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller and Deputy Coroner Brian Hopkins were both at the crime scene Wednesday. Kathryne Bledsoe was pronounced dead at 10:19 a.m., Miller said. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head.
Putnam County Chief Deputy Doug Nally estimated this to be the sixth or seventh murder committed in Putnam County since he joined the force in 1991.
The Bledsoes' 6-year-old son was in class at Reelsville Elementary School when the shooting occurred. The school is directly across the street from the Bledsoes' home.
"I considered her my daughter," said Kathryne's uncle, Rick Downs. "She was a good little girl. We're just getting around right now, just trying to make it through. We're in disbelief."
Bookwalter filed the felony murder charge against Bledsoe late Wednesday afternoon, and Headley signed an arrest warrant for Bledsoe shortly afterward.
Bledsoe was arrested without incident by Putnam County Sheriff's Department deputies and Indiana State Troopers.
A release from the Putnamville Post of the Indiana State Police said Deputy Mike Downing spotted the van Bledsoe was driving on S.R. 42 near Burma Road in Putnam County just after 11 p.m.
"Downing was following the vehicle while waiting for other officers when Bledsoe pulled over on S.R. 42 just south of the Cataract Store, exited the vehicle and surrendered," the release said.
Kathryne's youngest brother, Eric Whitlow, said his sister was a dedicated mother.
"Her children were her life," he said.
Eric said Bledsoe rarely attended family functions with his wife's relatives.
"If he did, he would just make trouble and they'd leave," he said.
Bledsoe's criminal history includes a 1996 conviction for public intoxication; convictions in 1996 and 1998 for misdemeanor illegal consumption of alcohol; convictions in 1999 for felony resisting law enforcement and misdemeanor driving while suspended and driving while intoxicated, as well as several probation violations and traffic infractions.
He has also had counts of intimidation and battery brought against him in the past, but those charges were dismissed.
Kathryne's family is making plans to hold funeral and burial services for her in Hamilton County, where she and her siblings were raised. Kathryne's mother, Debra Collins, now lives in Florida, and her father, Rudy Whitlow, resides in California.
"What I want is for people to remember (Kathryne) as the beautiful person she was," Jennifer said, her voice trembling as she began to cry. "She was always worried about everybody else. She would do anything for anyone and she worked hard to take care of her kids."