from the Warrick Superior Court Cause No. 87D01-1709-MI-1498
The Honorable J. Zach Winsett, Judge
Attorney for Appellant April L. Edwards Boonville, Indiana
Attorney for Appellee Craig M. McKee Wilkinson, Goeller,
Modesitt Wilkinson & Drummy, LLP Terre Haute, Indiana
Kenneth Scales filed a petition for access to public records,
seeking documents from the Warrick County Sheriff's
Department (the Department) related to the disappearance and
death of his daughter, Kristy Kelley. The Department moved
for summary judgment, arguing that the records to which
Scales sought access were investigatory records that the
Department could withhold at its discretion. The trial court
ruled in favor of the Department, and Scales now appeals.
Finding that the documents are not investigatory records as
described by our General Assembly, and consequently, that
they may not be withheld from public disclosure at the
Department's discretion, we reverse and remand with
The following represents the publicly known facts accumulated
by the Department in its missing person's investigation.
On or about August 15, 2014, Kelley went missing. Kelley
lived with her parents and two children in Boonville and
worked at the local CVS. Three years before her
disappearance, Kelley had divorced her daughter's father,
Clay Kelley, because of finances and Clay's alleged
drinking problem. Clay's father worked as a deputy for
the Department, and Scales worked as a jailer for the
Department. A few weeks before Kelley's disappearance,
Clay vandalized Kelley's car and called her a bad mother.
The two frequently argued, usually via text message. One text
message that Kelley sent to Clay on August 9, 2014, shortly
before her disappearance, said that "you would probably
kill me and hide my body." Appellant's App. Vol III
The night before she disappeared, Kelley went out to dinner
with friends. At around 11 p.m., Kelley went to the VFW in
Boonville because her friend, Terra Ellis, was bartending.
When the bar started closing procedures, Kelley went to use
the restroom and then left the VFW. Dennis Hill, the bar
janitor, was present at the facility and was the last person
who saw Kelley. At 3:30 a.m., Hill found Kelley's cell
phone in the restroom. The last text message Kelley sent was
time-stamped at 1:38 a.m. The police later interviewed Clay,
who admitted that he and Kelley had been arguing over her
current boyfriend just before she went missing. The police
reviewed Kelley's phone for her last text messages, which
revealed that Clay had been trying to meet with Kelley that
night, but Kelley did not want to. Those very text messages
had been deleted from Clay's phone. Surveillance video
footage from a nearby restaurant shows a vehicle that appears
to be Kelley's driving westward.
The next day, after Kelley did not report to work, Scales
became concerned and contacted the police. Local law
enforcement opened a missing person's investigation.
Shortly thereafter, the FBI, the Indiana State Police, and
the Boonville Police Department became involved.
Additionally, Scales requested that a sonar search group
assist with the search at different locales. At all times,
law enforcement referred to and classified Kelley's case
as a missing person's investigation and not as a criminal
investigation. The agencies worked together to acquire
evidence, conduct interviews with potential witnesses, and
gather documents. Sheriff Brett Kruse represented the
Department throughout the entirety of the investigation. No
criminal charges were ever filed.
More than one month later, on September 16, 2014, law
enforcement discovered Kelley's vehicle at the bottom of
a lake, with her body in the backseat. The vehicle had
significant damage to the front end, the keys were found on
Kelley's person and not in the ignition, and there were
no signs of foul play. Less than twenty-four hours after
Kelley's body was found, the coroner issued a report
declaring that Kelley's death was the result of
accidental asphyxiation caused by drowning. The Department
closed its investigation.
On September 26, 2017, Scales filed a petition for access to
records pursuant to the Indiana Access to Public Records Act
(APRA). Specifically, Scales sought information related to
the missing person's investigation surrounding
Kelley's disappearance, discovery, and accidental death.
Additionally, on October 11, 2017, Scales served a subpoena
duces tecum on the Department, requesting the following
1.A copy of the video surveillance footage evidencing Kristy
Kelley's vehicle after leaving the VFW on August 15,
2.Copies of any and all police reports, and supplements
generated in the investigation of the missing person case
involving Kristy Kelley, including any reports generated
after she was subsequently located on September 16, 2014.
2.[sic] Copies of any and all interview statements.
3.Copies of all evidence logs.
4.Copies of any and all documents received by you from either
the Indiana State Police and/or the FBI with respect to their