GREENFIELD — An Indianapolis man admitted to dumping a woman’s dead body in a public nature preserve on the county’s west side Thursday after she overdosed on heroin and died in the back of a car, court documents state.
Billy Paschal, 61, told investigators “it was the drugs and booze” that killed his friend, Theodosia Regina Queen, 61, of Indianapolis, whose body was discovered by a passing driver Thursday in Jacob Schramm Nature Preserve in New Palestine, court records state. Paschal described watching Queen become incapacitated after using heroin Wednesday night; she died in the back of her Jeep, and he drove her to Hancock County and dumped her body in a panic, he said.
Paschal pleaded not guilty in Hancock Circuit Court on Friday afternoon to two charges related to Queen’s death: failure to report a dead body, a Class A misdemeanor, and moving a body from the scene of the death, a Level 6 felony. He was being held at the Hancock County Jail on $5,000 cash bond at press time.
Paschal was in police custody within hours of a motorist pulling into the preserve in the 1600 block of County Road 600W. The passer-by dialed 911 after spotting Queen’s lifeless form, dressed in a pink tank top and jeans, lying in the gravel driveway. Investigators identified Queen by her fingerprints, an analysis of which led them to an Indianapolis home Queen had shared with Paschal.
Neighbors told police the pair had moved out days before but could probably be found at a motel on the city’s east side; investigators found a room registered to Paschal at the Skyline Motel in the 6600 block of East Washington Street.
Paschal was in his room when officers arrived and agreed to talk to investigators. He initially denied having seen Queen, saying she stormed out after an argument the night before, court documents state. Later, police say, he changed his story.
During an interview at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Paschal told police Queen used heroin to alleviate back pain and other medical problems, court documents state.
He said he was with Queen when she stopped to get heroin Wednesday after visiting her daughter on the west side of Indianapolis; Queen became incoherent and passed out after using the drugs, so Paschal drove back to the motel with her lying in the back seat, court documents state.
Paschal told police he thought his friend would sleep it off, and so he left her in the back of the Jeep — the same Jeep a neighbor later described as seeing at the nature preserve before Queen’s body was found, court records state.
Pascal said he “went back three or four times” during the night to check on Queen, and she was still alive; but by morning, her body was stiff and cold, police reports state.
Paschal said he was scared and didn’t know what to do; he worried the police would think he had killed Queen, he said.
“I didn’t do it. I didn’t kill her,” he told investigators, according to charging documents.
Thursday morning was the first time Paschal said he had ever been to Hancock County. He told investigators he drove around with Queen’s body “till he found a place,” court documents state.
An autopsy conducted Friday showed no signs of trauma to Queen’s body; police await toxicology reports.
Provisions in state law protect those who seek help for overdose victims, even if they, too, are under the influence of an illegal substance, Prosecutor Brent Eaton noted Friday.
Paschal could have sought help for Queen or reported her death without fear of prosecution, Eaton said.
“When we believe someone needs medical attention, we should always try to contact emergency services,” he said. “It’s tragic that Mr. Paschal was in a position to see that Miss Queen received medical assistance and that he did not do so. If he would have, perhaps she would be alive today.”