Man arrested in connection with deadly shooting of woman on Indy’s west side

Indianapolis Area Crime

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) announced the arrest of 27-year-old John Moreno in connection with a deadly shooting in early February.

According to IMPD, Moreno faces a preliminary murder charge for his alleged involvement in the death of 54-year-old Donna Hawes.

On Feb. 7, IMPD said southwest district officers were called to an apartment in the 1000 block of Hardin Boulevard shortly after 1 p.m. When officers arrived at the Cloverleaf Apartments, they found Hawes suffering from apparent trauma. She was pronounced dead by IEMS crews at the scene.

According to court documents, an autopsy conducted revealed that Hawes’ cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds, with the manner being homicide.

“It’s just hard to believe this ever happened,” Hawes’ brother, Don Underhill, told FOX59.

“She was a hard worker. She had a personality that was just busting out. She was always happy, smiling, just a happy-go-lucky gal,” he said.

FOX59 obtained an affidavit for probable cause, filed in Marion County. The document provided more details into the investigation in the weeks following Hawes’ death.

According to the filing, a witness told police Hawes “recently let a homeless guy stay with her in her apartment” and described him as a Hispanic male in his mid-20s.

Three days after police found Hawes dead in her apartment, documents say investigators were able to track Moreno, who matched the description of the man witnesses said was staying with Hawes, to the area of West Lake South Drive, after the victim’s phone came back online.

At the time officers located Moreno, the probable cause affidavit says he was in possession of a loaded handgun, a plastic bag containing ammunition and three cell phones.

One of those three cell phones recovered on Moreno belonged to Hawes, documents say.

On Feb. 24, investigators say a forensic report came back, showing a fired casing recovered from the scene matched the handgun found on Moreno, as did bullets recovered by the coroner.

Moreno was arrested on Feb. 24 for his alleged involvement in Hawes’ death.

Court records show Moreno has a preliminary hearing scheduled on Friday, Feb. 26.

“I know our detectives continuously worked hard to follow leads, per se, and then we were able to take that individual into custody, where the final charges will be mandated by the Marion County Prosecutors Office,” said IMPD Public Information Officer William Young.

Young said IMPD continues to see the community be more responsive after violent crimes, something that is key to helping investigators hold people responsible accountable.

“We always want the community to know our detectives, we don’t forget these families. Our homicide investigators work day-in and day-out,” said Young.

Hawes’ family said they are thankful to investigators for finding the person allegedly responsible for taking the life of their loved one.

“It just brings closure for a lot of questions we’ve had and everything, and I’m just glad they’ve solved the case,” said Underhill.

While grateful for the work of investigators, family members tell FOX59 they’re still in disbelief over what happened.

“The family’s taken it pretty hard. Nobody really knew what happened to her for sure,” Underhill said. “I don’t wish no animosity toward him, but I have a hard time understanding this.

“I just heard when I went to her apartment Tuesday to clean it out — said a homeless guy was staying with her, and knowing Donna she’d help anybody. I wouldn’t take anybody to hurt her like that.”

Underhill said Hawes always loved animals.

“She loved dogs, oh my god, she loved dogs,” he shared.

“She would take the shirt off her back to help you out. I mean, she was always thinking about the other person,” shared Gary Hawes. “She treated everybody with respect and kindness. She was a hard worker, especially during the summer time. She’d get the push mower out and go mow people’s yards for them, people that couldn’t get out.

“I wish a lot of people in America was like her. We’d be in a lot better place.”

IMPD asks anyone with information about this incident to call IMPD’s Homicide Office at 317-327-3475 or Crime Stoppers of central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS (8477).

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