Indy City-County Council approves $300,000 witness protection program

UPDATE: The city-county council voted unanimously Monday night to fund the program.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The day after 13-year-old Matthew McGee was murdered outside a fast food restaurant in Castleton last September, detectives and reporters spent hours attempting to encourage accounts of the killing from young witnesses.

The work was futile and to this day, McGee’s murder remains unsolved.

“Oh, they knew but I can guarantee you some of them is scared,” said Sherae King, McGee’s cousin. “It's just that I can tell every time I talk about Matthew or we get in a conversation about Matthew, you can tell in their eyes that they’re scared.”

In the wake of the McGee killing, and under increasing media and survivor pressure, Mayor Joe Hogsett identified $300,000 to establish a witness protection fund to provide for the needs of those who know but are too scared to speak up.

“You gotta think about safety for your family, you gotta think about if somebody is like real close to you that would tell,” said King. “You just have to be private like when you go through a situation like this everything has to be private. Everything. Social media. Telephone. All of that has to be cancelled for all of this program to go on.”

Monday night, the City-County Council will vote on the plan which will be administered by the Office of Public Health and Safety.

Details of the implementation of the program have not been released.

“I can’t say it enough, this is a public safety issue,” said Rev. Stephen Clay, then an east side councilman, when the Hogsett administration first discovered the additional funds for the program. “It is a crisis of epic proportion when you have 20 some odd cases that the prosecutor says that he could not make because witnesses would not cooperate. That’s a problem.”

Tonight Clay, as newly-elected president of the council, has the opportunity to preside over the funding of the plan.

“It is a good idea but you gotta have the kids come forward for them to even get into that type of program, to even try to help somebody else in this situation like my family,” said King. “As a parent and as a mother we need to get to talking because if it was somebody else and their family that was going through this at the age of 13 or one of their kids that was gone at the age of 13 they would want somebody to want to start talking too.”