Hovey Street murders: A phone call helped lead me and the police to a killer

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Indianapolis Star reporter Vic Ryckaert remembers covering the Hovey St. murders, including speaking with someone who had been at the scene before police knew about the man. Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar

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IndyStar criminal justice reporter Vic Ryckaert(Photo: IndyStar)Buy Photo

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Ten years ago on Jan. 14, a ghastly crime shocked Indianapolis. The robbery of a rumored drug house turned brutally, horribly deadly.

Two 24-year-old women staying in a Hovey Street home on the north side were shot dead. So, too, were their two very young children, the 23-month-old shot at point-blank range. Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson vowed to hunt the killers down “like dogs.”

Insight into the slayings would come from the most unlikely of circumstances. The brother of one of the suspects would call an IndyStar reporter.

I was that reporter.

The crime:

Coming Saturday, the determined officer: “If you run, I‘ll kill you and get a medal.”

Coming Sunday, the lead investigator: The slayings crossed a line.

Coming Monday, a victim‘s father: The question remains — why?

Sitting at my desk in IndyStar‘s office in the City-County Building, I received a tip that would lead to one of the biggest stories of my career.

I had been hustling to gather new information to report on the brutal, senseless murders on Hovey Street.

Countless phone calls. Digging through court records and police reports. Door-knocking. 

Then the phone rang.

The caller said his brother, Jasper Frazier, was at the home three nights earlier when friends Gina Hunt and Andrea Yarrell, both 24, and 23-month-old Jordan Hunt and 5-month-old Charlii Daye-Yarrell were gunned down. 

Jasper Frazier wanted to turn himself in, his brother said, but Frazier was terrified.

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Hundreds of stuffed animals were part of a memorial outside the home. (Photo: Matt Detrich/IndyStar file photo)

The killings had caused an instant outrage. Hours after the bodies were discovered, more than 100 people gathered outside the house expressing anger and grief. Police, fearing a riot, moved the crowd to a nearby church, where they prayed and wept.

“We‘re not going to stop until we find you and put you in a cage where you belong,” Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson said of the killers. “There‘s a special place in hell for you, and we‘re going to see that you get there.”

James Frazier gave me his sister‘s mobile phone number. She was driving Jasper Frazier to a police station, where he was going to turn himself in.

I called the number. Soon I was talking to Frazier.

“I ain‘t kill them kids, man,” Frazier said. “The people that killed the kids, they was going to kill me.”

Frazier said three men recruited him to help with the robbery. They believed marijuana and money had been hidden inside the Hovey Street house. They told him it would be quick money.

He and Ronald “Action” Davis broke a window and climbed inside. They found the mothers and children hiding on the floor between a wall and the bed in a bedroom.

Davis fired a .40-caliber Glock handgun at least 10 times. Frazier, carrying a TEC 9-mm handgun, never fired a shot. Officers later found both guns outside the home.

“Yeah, I was there, man,” Frazier told me on the phone, “and I asked the dude there, ‘Why the (expletive) you kill those kids?‘ “

Frazier started sobbing.

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Jasper Frazier, 36, is walked to walked to court on Jan. 23, 2008. (Photo: Matt Detrich/IndyStar file photo)

More than 80 officers were looking for the killers, and Frazier thought he was in their sights.

At the same time, Frazier said, his partners were doubting his loyalty. They had been watching him, he said, holding him prisoner in his apartment.

He snuck out and fled Indianapolis on the morning of Jan. 17. Frazier said he was ready to face justice; he just wanted to be taken alive.

“I‘m not running. I‘m turning myself in with my family.”

IndyStar published Frazier‘s story the next morning on the front page under a banner headline reading: “I ain‘t kill them kids.”

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Indianapolis Star crime reporter Vic Ryckaert covered the Hovey Street murders in 2008. Andrea Yarrell and her infant daughter Charlii Yarrell were murdered along with Gina Hunt and her toddler son Jordan Hunt, in a home invasion Jan. 14, 2008. Ryckaert received a phone call from the brother of one of the people at the murder scene. Soon he got to speak with Jasper Frazier who said, "I ain't killed them kids." The police hadn't known about Frazier's until Ryckaert called the police to confirm his story. The headline ran front page in The Star.  (Photo: INDIANAPOLIS STAR)

Frazier would become the key witness in the convictions of Davis and three other men involved in the crime. Davis was sentenced to 245 years on four counts of murder, robbery and handgun charges.

Prosecutors acknowledged in court that “we wouldn‘t be here without the cooperation of Jasper Frazier.”

In exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors did not file murder charges against Frazier. He was sentenced to 70 years in prison in connection with the attempted robbery.

On the day he turned himself in, Frazier believed that police had him in their sights. In fact, investigators had no idea he was involved.

Frazier is being held at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility with an earliest possible release date of June 22, 2036.

Call IndyStar reporter Vic Ryckaert at . Follow him on .

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