INDIANAPOLIS – Sheridan Tom Jr.’s life was worth $160 to the people accused of robbing and murdering him.
Tom, who was shot and killed on the afternoon of April 18, was lured to an abandoned home and then fatally shot, court documents filed in Marion County show. The three people accused in his murder then took $160 from him.
Investigators said they’re glad to be able to bring some answers to the family of Tom and credit the community cooperation that they said played a crucial role.
“In this case, especially, there was a lot of cooperation from family, friends, the public that made this case really come together quickly,” said Detective Chris Edwards, who is assigned to the case.
“I mean, my phone was ringing off the hook with people trying to get a hold of me, to give me little pieces of that puzzle which, in the end, made that whole picture possible,” Det. Edwards added.
Homicide detectives arrested Noah Edwards, 23, and Emily Kilgore, 22, for their alleged roles in the murder and on May 1, both were formally charged by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. On Monday, a third suspect, a 17-year-old boy whose identity has not been released, was also arrested in connection to the crime.
“Without a lot of that cooperation, often times, is difficult to solve a case,” Det. Edwards added.
The shooting happened outside a vacant home in the 2300 block of E. Werges Avenue on April 18. Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) responded around 1:40 p.m. for a report of a possible overdose and when they arrived, found medics working on Tom.
“While attempting lifesaving measures, the medics discovered what appeared to be a bullet wound to Mr. Tom’s back,” read the probable cause affidavit. Despite efforts to keep the victim alive, he was pronounced dead at 2:06 p.m.
Renee Smith, who lives in the neighborhood, said she is thankful to hear of arrests in the case and feels sorry for the family of the victim.
“I was very devastated because my kids were actually getting off the bus and everything was just haywire,” said Smith. “This right here is definitely amazing they caught these people.”
According to a probable cause affidavit, Kilgore told investigators Tom, who she had known for a while, had reached out to her on Facebook for a “prostitution deal.” She admitted she didn’t want to go through with it, though, and the juvenile suspect suggested they rob the victim.
At least one witness corroborated what Kilgore told police and said they recalled hearing Kilgore, Noah Edwards and the teen discuss robbing someone, according to court documents. The witness said the juvenile suspect suggested, “Why don’t you just have me rob him?”
Another person told police he’d seen a few people in the yard of the Werges Ave. address. He then heard a pop and saw three people—a woman and two males—run from the yard to a home on St. Paul Street.
Police reviewed security video from nearby homes and businesses, court documents show.
Investigators said, while having pieces of evidence like video is important in cases, it’s even more imperative that the community helps investigators by working together with them to get to there — exactly what happened here.
“Evidence like video surveillance and fingerprints and DNA, all that stuff is great, but a lot of times we need to find out where that evidence is. It’s like a giant puzzle piece and everybody, witnesses, family, friends, everybody has a little piece of that puzzle and my job as the detective is to go out and find those puzzle pieces,” said Det. Edwards.
“We get a lot of, ‘well this person did it.’ Okay, well point me in the right direction, how do you know that? Where is this coming from? That’s not information we can act on, we need specific information to tell us how you know that,” Det. Edwards added.
Court documents revealed that some of the footage captured the moments before and after Tom’s death. According to the probable cause document, video obtained from nearby showed a woman, presumably Kilgore, led Tom to the porch of the home on Werges Avenue and then took him to the backyard.
As Tom was led back, two other people crossed the street. They were then seen “rushing through the yards” where Kilgore and Tom had gone out of frame. After a few seconds, all three suspects ran off toward St. Paul Street. Tom then walked toward the front of the home and collapsed.
In an interview with detectives, Kilgore confirmed she planned to meet Tom at the home on April 18 and lure him to the back of the home where Noah Edwards and the teen would be waiting to rob him, documents show.
Instead, according to Kilgore’s account, her accomplices were not in the backyard. At that point, the pair “ran up to them.” The teen, revolver in hand, yelled at Tom, “Give me all your money!” Kilgore then recalled hearing a single gunshot; Tom grabbed his chest and yelled in pain.
After the gunshot, Kilgore said she and the others ran back to a house on St. Paul Street. The teen counted the money—about $160—and took $100 of it. He gave the rest to Noah Edwards, according to court documents.
Det. Edwards said this case serves as a great example of the quick results investigators are able to reach when the community is open to working with them.
“What was unique in some respects, is the amount of cooperation that I received. The cases that we tend to solve quickly are cases where people are coming to us and giving us even more information than we actually need – willing to help. Those cases get solved quickly; those cases have quick resolutions a lot of times. The cases where people, for whatever reason, don’t want to talk to the police, don’t want to cooperate with investigators, those cases linger and they go on, and on, and on,” Det. Edwards said.
“We run into people all the time, who we know they know something, yet they tell us, ‘we’re not gonna do your job for you,’” Det. Edwards explained. “It’s kind of a misconception because our job is to talk to you, to find those puzzle pieces. Without those puzzle pieces, I can’t do anything.”
To be successful, investigators emphasize working together with the community is key. IMPD has reported a handful of arrests recently in homicide investigations, and said community cooperation is a common theme in many of them.
“I hope it’s a new trend, I really do. It would make me happy and get a lot more resolution to a lot of these cases,” he said.
Despite their already tireless efforts, Det. Edwards believes they could improve the case solve rate with more people coming together, like they saw in this case, to provide justice to even more families.
“None of us working in homicide, contrary to what people may think are — we’re not that genius TV detective that – those don’t really exist. Solving cases comes down to witnesses who are willing to cooperate, evidence that we can find and a detective that will just work and work and work until they have all of those puzzle pieces,” Det. Edwards shared.
Kilgore and Noah Edwards are charged with murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. Both are being held without bond in Marion County, court records show.
During an interview with police, Noah Edwards denied any involvement, documents detailed.
The teenage suspect was captured Monday night with help from the Violent Crimes Unit, US Marshals Task Force and IMPD Southeast District officers. His name has not yet been released.
Tom died from a single gunshot to his back, according to his autopsy. The coroner’s office ruled his death a homicide.