‘He took care of everybody’

McCORDSVILLE — There was nothing unusual about the last time Shannon Kitchens left his mother’s house Tuesday afternoon. He left with a friend, off to pick up a part that finally would fix her washing machine, Nola Eicher said — something not out of character for a loving son who always was willing to help his mother.

Hours passed, and he didn’t return, she said. Around 9 p.m., there was a knock on the door and three police officers standing on the front step. Eicher knew they were there about her son.

Kitchens, 55, of McCordsville, was found along a county road a little more than six miles from the home they shared. Police said Kitchens was shot to death, and they are investigating the case as a homicide. The investigation is ongoing.

Eicher said her son left Tuesday afternoon with a friend named Shawn, a man the family had known for a few years, who regularly helped out around the house and helped replace shingles on Eicher’s roof just a few days before, she said.

At 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Shawn Hammons, 40, of Pendleton, was booked into the Hancock County Jail; records show he is being held on preliminary charges of failure to report a dead body within three hours and failure to report a dead body with the intent to hinder an investigation.

A passerby spotted Kitchens’ body lying off the side of the road in the 3300 block of West County Road 500N, just east of the Indianapolis Regional Airport around 5:45 p.m. Investigators believe Kitchens was dumped there, but they did not release further details about what they found at the scene.

A mile stretch of West County Road 500N between county roads 300W and 400W was closed for several hours while police investigated late Tuesday.

Minutes after investigators left the area where Kitchens was found, police surrounded a home on the north side of Fortville. More than 15 officers from three local law enforcement agencies were called to the home in the 700 block of Alden Drive, dispatch records show.

Officers remained on the scene overnight and continued their investigation early Wednesday. Investigators confirmed the incident was connected to Kitchens’ death but declined to provide further details.

On Wednesday afternoon, Eicher was still in shock. Her son, who left behind five grown children, was kind and helpful, and she said she could not imagine why someone would want to hurt him, she said.

She and Kitchens’ girlfriend, Liz Burton, spent the morning sharing happy memories of kayaking trips, going hiking and planning dinners out. Kitchens loved to watch live music from local bands, Burton said.

Family flocked to their side, ready to help with the little things Eicher and Burton said Kitchens usually would have handled. Things like making breakfast, warming their coffee and making them laugh.

“He always took care of me,” Eicher said. “He took care of everybody.”

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.