Man charged with murder in Attkisson death

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 ~ Updated 4:59 PM
John Gonzalez

A Terre Haute man is in custody and has been charged with the murder of Melissa “Lisa” Attkisson.

John Gonzalez, 28, was located Monday in Rock Island County, Ill., near the 44-year-old Attkisson’s stolen car and in possession of several of her belongings.

On Wednesday, Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter filed a murder charge against Gonzalez in Putnam Superior Court, as well as Level 6 felony auto theft and Level 6 felony theft of a firearm.

An arrest warrant was also issued for Gonzalez.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Melissa’s family,” Greencastle Police Assistant Chief Brian Hopkins said. “We cannot do enough to thank the many law enforcement agencies involved in putting Gonzalez behind bars.”

The suspect is not fighting extradition, so he will be brought back to Indiana, first to Vigo County, where he was already wanted on a warrant for probation violation, as well as having a pending battery case from 2015.

Gonzalez has twice been incarcerated with the Indiana Department of Correction, a 2012 Vigo County conviction for sexual battery and a 2015 Fountain County conviction for robbery.

Gonzalez and Attkisson had been dating and he was living at her East Berry Street home prior to her death.

One of Attkisson’s sons found her body in an upstairs bedroom of her Berry Street home on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 28.

A Jan. 29 autopsy revealed that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

In their investigation, detectives determined that Attkisson’s vehicle was missing, as well as several items from her purse, including her cell phone, identification cards, credit and debit cards and a handgun.

Information on the missing Ford Escape was entered into a national registry of stolen vehicles.

On Monday, deputies in Rock Island County, Ill., located Attkisson’s Ford Escape, abandoned in a remote field having crashed through a fence.

Nearby, they found Gonzalez walking down the road, in possession of Attkisson’s identification cards and credit and debit cards, though not her handgun or cell phone.

They also found Gonzalez was already wanted on the Vigo County warrant and took him into custody without incident.

The investigation revealed that on Jan. 29, Gonzalez and a woman entered a Walmart store in Terre Haute, where they sold Attkisson’s cell phone. Detectives Doug Nally and Matt Biggs of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department recovered the phone from Walmart.

Greencastle Police Department officials credited the hours of work that detectives from multiple agencies have put into the case.

These included GPD detectives Matt Huffman and Capt. Michael Collins, three Putnam County Sheriff’s Department detectives, seven Indiana State Police detectives, three ISP crime scene technicians and Putnam County Prosecutor’s Office Investigator Kari Plessinger.

They also credited Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, Illinois State Police, Rock Island County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department and Rock Island County Prosecutor Dora Villarreal.

Between the agencies, more than 20 search warrants have been served in the case.

“It took complete cooperation of multiple agencies to get this done,” GPD Chief Tom Sutherlin said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the Indiana State Police, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, our department and the other agenices in Indiana and Illinois. There have been hundreds of man hours put into it. The cooperation of the agencies working totgether was just fantastic.”

A Putnam County official told the Banner Graphic extradition was likely to happen on Thursday or Friday, with Gonzalez probably appearing in Vigo Superior Court 6 at the beginning of the week.

At that point, he is likely to appear in Putnam Superior Court in the middle part of next week.

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  • That’s so awful. He needs the death penalty. Prayers for the family.

    -- Posted by mlooper on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 6:40 PM
  • Thank you to all the police and anyone who assisted in apprehending this awful person! We all feel safer knowing he is behind bars!

    -- Posted by chicken on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 6:56 PM
  • Proud of all agencies involved to bring this monster in. May this man rot!

    -- Posted by krozelle_hlpoa on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 7:52 PM
  • Good work and great cooperation to "get your man." It is good that the police have the goods on this guy being in possession of her car, cell phone and credit/debit cards. Again, good work to all our law enforcement and thanks to IL officers for checking on this guy. It just shows that in this day and age of computer databases, it is hard to escape the long arm of the law.

    -- Posted by gustave&zelma on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 8:06 PM
  • got that piece of sh--t

    -- Posted by dan.gross on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 8:11 PM
  • This should serve as a lesson to those who were talking out of turn and accusing innocent people. Your words that were not facts hurt families in our community. Hopefully they can begin the healing process now.

    -- Posted by bevaallmanmiller on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 8:13 PM
  • Yes, good work from the police.

    Now the judicial system needs to KEEP HIM BEHIND BARS!

    Too many thugs preying on the public!

    -- Posted by direstraits on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 10:31 PM
  • Prayers for her and her family and friends. Thank you to all law enforcement agencies and all involved here and Illinois. And I thank the Lord Almighty.

    -- Posted by interestedperson#1 on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 10:46 PM
  • This is total bull! He is still facing battery charges from 2015. We have been waiting for him to serve his term for the robbery before he could go to trial for the battery. He shouldn't have been let out to begin with. Y'all thanking the cops when it's the cops that let him out. Vigo county crime victims assistance is gonna hear from me for sure! They keep putting off our case, and THIS is how I find out he got let loose?! If law enforcement would have done thier job to begin with, this poor girl would be alive!!!!

    -- Posted by Jawsome2 on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 11:01 PM
  • My heart goes out to her family! The system is WRONG he should have never been out with two cases already pending and one of the victims of one case finds out he's out by reading the comments is complete bullshit and now he took someone's life now they are gonna do something WOW!!!! If the court system would of done their job first of all and kept this POS locked up this woman would still be alive!

    -- Posted by Farm life on Wed, Feb 5, 2020, at 11:32 PM
  • I have to agree with a few posts , if this lowlife was kept in Jail and serving time for his other warrants ect... would still be here today! The system sucks and it only works to help the bad people get free from their crimes and this proves it sadly a life was taken because issues since 2015 and ect...that the law didn't do their job of keeping people safe and protected from evil people like this !!!! ! Cut and dry hold all of his warrants and crap all in one day be done if not he will kill again if you guys don't keep him ... that's scary to know the system failed and who knows just how many are out there now doing the same thing...

    -- Posted by Kphillippo44 on Thu, Feb 6, 2020, at 12:28 AM
  • Great job to all involved in solving this case! HE NEEDS TO FACE DEATH PENALTY!!! And stop all this annoying ,uncalled for stupidity to put it nicely.

    -- Posted by neeley_lauri on Thu, Feb 6, 2020, at 4:22 AM
  • Prayers for her family and I hope this will bring them some comfort knowing the person has been found.

    A success story for Greencastle, Putnam County and the State of Indiana’s Law Enforement Departments.

    -- Posted by Taxpayer5253 on Thu, Feb 6, 2020, at 6:37 AM
  • Jawsome2- I totally agree the system is so flawed. However the blame for "letting" him out isn't the Police, it is the COURTS. This "delay" is normally attributed to postponements requested by the Defense Attorney and again it is the COURT that grants these. We need the courts system fixed. I wouldn't want to deny anyone their "rights" but at the same time justice needs to be done and not delayed.

    -- Posted by forgive me on Thu, Feb 6, 2020, at 7:47 AM
  • The details provided in the article seem to indicate that John Gonzalez is the perpetrator of the killing here in Greencastle. It is amazing that he was not already in jail or prison for his former crimes. Certainly a breakdown in the judicial system. A sexual deviant and robber out comitting more crimes. Had he been earlier busted for marijuana he would not have been released. Wow! My sincere prayers for the grieving family. And thank you to the cooperation of the police agencies.

    -- Posted by watchman on the wall on Thu, Feb 6, 2020, at 5:21 PM
  • If the part of female with him at Walmart/cell phone is accurate...was she involved in more of this horrible tragedy! Hope she is looked at too!

    -- Posted by mom67 on Fri, Feb 7, 2020, at 10:56 AM
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