Murder victim found behind abandoned plant, two men arrested

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UPDATE: A judge sentenced Keith Cornwell to 55 years, including 51 years in the Department of Correction and 4 years in Marion County Community Corrections in February 2017.

The trial of Caleb Bixler in May 2017 ended in a hung jury. The case is scheduled to be retried in October 2017.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 16, 2015) -- To find Ron Trahan's body, Indianapolis Metropolitan police needed an informant because the corpse was buried in a mulch pile behind the abandoned east side RCA plant where no one would ever notice.

A pair of 18-year-olds, Caleb Bixler and Keith Cornwell, of nearby Gray Street, were arrested within hours of the discovery and charged with the killing which may have stemmed from the belief that Trahan knew about crimes associated with one of the men.

When RCA and its well-paying jobs abandoned the east side, the hulking factory was briefly occupied by Second Helpings, a service dedicated to feeding the hungry, and a temporary employment agency called Keys to Work where Donald Nelson found a job sometimes setting up banquets before he bought a house in the 900 block of Dearborn Street and started Christ Temple of Faith Ministry.

"That's not even surprising," said Pastor Nelson when he learned about the killing. "From 10th and Rural on back all the way up to Sherman Drive is your high crime area."

Clad in a Walter Payton Chicago Bears jersey in the hot sun, Nelson applied a coat of white paint to the steps leading up to his house of worship and Bible study, sweat beading up on his bald head.

"I try to keep a new face on the building because if I do it then maybe it will look good and make the community and stuff follow behind."

Nelson's neighborhood could use a good example as several abandoned and boarded up houses dot the landscape.

"The landlords aren't doing anything to these houses. They're just letting them go unappreciative like they are. That creates rats, rodents, all types of insects, possibly dead bodies if they allow it to be. It's an open season for it," said neighbor Kevin Ezell as his grandson tugged at his hand. "You got young kids around here and they need something to look up to. They have nothing to look up to over here."

Joe Hogsett and Chuck Brewer, the men who are vying to be Indianapolis' next mayor, have both said they would like to tackle the abadoned buildings crisis in the city, if only they knew how many empty houses and stores and factories there were and had the money to fix them up or tear them down.

"I remember when jobs was over at the RCA plant," said Ezell. "It was real good for the community. People did not have to struggle the way they're struggling now but they need to come up with something to put something back in the neighborhood where people start appreciating their neighborhoods better."