Death of Ladoga man was a homicide

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

LADOGA -- The autopsy of an elderly Ladoga man's body found Sunday afternoon in his home has confirmed the death was a homicide.

Following a Monday afternoon autopsy in Terre Haute, Montgomery County Coroner David Hunt released the manner of death of Samuel H. Kessler, 94, as a homicide. The cause of death was a gunshot wound.

Kessler was a former Montgomery County commissioner.

To protect the integrity of the investigation Indiana State Police did not release the caliber of the ammunition or the location of the gunshot wound.

"Currently, the ISP detectives from the Lafayette Post are working feverishly on many tips that have been provided. We have no suspects or persons of interest at this time," ISP public information officer Sgt. Joe Watts said.

Kessler was found by an acquaintance late Sunday morning after the reported business associate was unable to reach Kessler by phone.

The visitor found the door to the home ajar and discovered Kessler's body in the bedroom. The southeastern Montgomery County along State Road 234 home appeared to be ransacked.

Investigators believe Kessler's death occurred sometime between 7 p.m. and midnight on Saturday, Jan. 28. This belief is based on evidence at the scene and the autopsy results.

Additionally, police are seeking information on a dark-colored, full-size pickup truck, allegedly seen in the victim's driveway during the early to mid evening hours on Saturday.

Ladoga area residents who were in the area of the crime scene, 8737 E. State Road 234, or out and about in the town of Ladoga, are urged to recall their Saturday evening activities and attempt to remember any suspicious persons, suspicious vehicles, or anything out of the ordinary.

If residents believe they possess any helpful information, they are urged to contact ISP Detective First Sgt. Tom McKee or ISP Detective Jay Harper at the Lafayette State Police Post at 765-567-2125.

"It cannot be stressed enough that no tip is too small," Watts said.

Several tips from the public have been received and state police investigators, along with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, continue to pursue the many pieces of information provided by citizens.

Watts added that no weapon has been recovered.

Funeral arrangements for Kessler are pending at Servies and Morgan Funeral Home in Ladoga.

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