Arrest made after man found murdered in vacant townhome; legal fight over troubled property remains

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indianapolis man is behind bars, accused of killing a homeless man inside a vacant property on the city's northeast side.

The killing took place near 42nd and Post Road at a property that has become a hot spot for violence this year.

A full week after 35-year-old Anthony Eldridge was murdered inside the vacant property, the door to the crime scene is still wide open.

According to court records, Ernest White admitted he severely beat Eldridge and a friend shot him because White was angry that Eldridge allegedly fondled an underage relative of White’s six years ago.

Back in January, two other homicides also took place in the same complex which is known as Towne and Terrace.

Many of the individually owned townhomes are vacant or in disrepair. Since 2013, the city and the homeowners association have been locked in a legal fight because the city owns 95 of the 258 units and their plans for demolition are being stopped by a court order.

In the meantime this year, the Ten Point Coalition has begun patrolling the area and is frustrated by the legal deadlock.

“I would put blame on both the city and the managers of that property,” said Rev. Charles Harrison.

A brief filed by Towne and Terrace last week accuses the city of contributing to the public safety issues in the area and claims, “The city’s failure to repair, maintain and secure its vacant properties has endangered the owners and residents. The neglectful ownership by the city has fostered murder, crime, violence and destruction.”

The owners are asking the court to appoint a receiver to manage and sell all the vacant properties owned by the city.

The mayor’s office issued a written response that read in part:

The City has been engaged in litigation with the governing association that oversees that development since November 2013 citing unreasonable harm to the City by contributing to blight, depressing property values and consuming substantial public resources.

Between January 1, 2008 and August 15, 2013, there were 2346 police runs, 743 police reports, 465 city and health department code inspection cases opened with 1123 inspections of the real estate. Between 2014-2016, another 578 IMPD runs occurred at the property. All of this data has been sighted in the dozens of court proceedings, as the city works diligently to finally be given the legal authority to address this problem property.

The City of Indianapolis gained control of the Town & Terrace properties as the owner of last resort – in 2014 the City of Indianapolis was awarded federal grant funds, specifically for the demolition of Town & Terrace.

DMD, IMPD, BNS and the City Prosecutor go out for regular site inspections. On June 1, they brought a contractor who checked all city units, re-secured what was open and IMPD trespassed 2 individuals from a city unit and a 3rd was arrested on an open warrant (and trespassed). DMD’s contractor are also charged with checking the status of units each time they’re on site to mow.

The HOA has excluded the City from acting as a responsible partner — we have been precluded from stakeholder meetings, prevented from exercising control over common areas, and they have taken legal action to stop the City from tearing down any further buildings - buildings that must come down.

The city is currently under a court order, prohibiting further demolition while the case is pending.

Officials with Towne and Terrace also sent a statement that read in part:

We hope that the City will do the right thing: Provide much needed police protection for our residents, and sell its townhomes to responsible owners who will bring them up to code and provide affordable housing.

“Tear it down or rehab it. Quit blaming each other, the city and owners, because both of you are the problem,” said Harrison. “The status quo is not working.”

The suspect in the killing remains in jail without bond. In the meantime, the court case between the city and the property owners is set for trial later this year.

Attorneys for both sides declined to comment on camera.