A Fox 59 News investigation has revealed that when the family of Paula Epperly Willoughby failed to convince Sheriff Frank Anderson to change his policy and transport the convicted killer from the Indiana Women’s Prison to funerals in 2005 and 2006, the woman’s millionaire father, Harrison Epperly, turned to Constable Roy Houchins who is currently under federal investigation and facing state charges in an unrelated case.
Deputy Constable Ryan Ford told Fox 59 News that Houchins told him to escort Willoughby to a funeral in the summer of 2005 after Anderson rejected the family’s requests. Ford was paid $100 as were three other deputies.
Family members and Ford tell Fox 59 News that the Epperly family called on the constable again in the summer of 2006 to escort Willoughby on two consecutive days to attend a funeral on Indianapolis’ northwestside. One witness told Fox 59 News that Houchins accepted cash from the Epperly family the day of the funeral. Campaign documents show Houchins received donations totalling $2500 from Harrison Epperly, a wealthy business real estate owner, in the month after the funeral.
The Epperly family was forced to find an alternative means of securing their daughter’s temporary releases because Sheriff Anderson halted a policy of allowing inmates to attend funerals.
“From day one Sheriff Anderson has said no funeral home visits and there’s never been any equivocation on that ever,” said Kevin Murray, the sheriff’s counsel.
Constable Houchins had no comment on the findings of the Fox 59 investigation. Previous revelations by Fox 59 News led to criminal charges against the constable and one of his top aides for theft and official corruption. The FBI is investigating allegations that Houchins sold badges and police powers for cash and campaign donations.
Paula Epperly Willoughby served 18 years of an original 110-year sentence for the 1991 killing of her husband, Darrell. Under a controversial sentence modification, she was released from prison early after her father donated money to campaigns of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi and his Chief Trial Deputy David Wyser. Both men sent the donations back to Harrison Epperly in the days before Fox 59 broke news of its investigation.