Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Murder of Jill Behrman

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Jill Behrman vanished at the age of 19 on May 31st, 2000. At the time, Jill was a student at Indiana University. On the day she vanished, Jill went for a bike ride in Bloomington and never returned home. Her family members were immediately worried and reported her missing very shortly thereafter. Just two days later, Jill's bicycle was found in a field north of town. From that point forward, it was believed that Jill had met with foul play. This sparked a extensive search for the young woman.

Unfortunately, the searches for Jill initially came up empty. Almost a year passed without any progress in the case. Then, in 2001, a woman named Wendy Owings came forward and stated she was in the car with another woman name Alisha Sowders and a man named Uriah Clouse when they hit Jill while driving around under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Wendy told authorities that Jill was not dead after she was hit, but they believed she significantly injured so the women decided to kill her. Wendy claimed they dumped Jill's body in a creek and then abandoned her bicycle on the other side of town. This confession seemed promising at first, as one of the three women lived nearby the location where Jill's bicycle was found.

Wendy's confession sparked yet another extensive search for Jill in the area where Wendy claimed she was dumped--but unfortunately nothing was found. Still, detectives continued to investigate this lead while prosecutors were considering pressing charges without a body. However, the case would soon take a few unexpected turns. 

From left to right: Wendy Owings, Alisha Sowders and Uriah Clouse
On March 9th, 2003, almost two years after Jill's disappearance, human remains were found in a remote area in Morgan County. Just days later, those remains were confirmed to be that of Jill Behrman. She was not found in the creek where Wendy claimed she had been dumped. An autopsy also revealed that Jill's injuries were not consistent with being struck by a vehicle. In fact, Jill had died of a gunshot wound to the back of her head. At that point, Wendy changed her story and denied her involvement in Jill's death. She was already incarcerated for an unrelated charge at the time she made the confession about Jill's death, so it was believed that Wendy was coerced into a false confession. She and Alisha were cleared of suspicion. However, Uriah Clouse remained a suspect. 

Clouse continuously denied his involvement in Jill's death, and eventually investigators closed in on another suspect: John Robert Myers II. Myers had reportedly made incriminating statements about the case to his friends and family members. In March 2006, a grand jury began an investigation into Jill's disappearance and death. About a month later, on April 9th, 2006, Myers was arrested and charged with Jill's murder. Little information was revealed about any direct evidence that linked Myers to the crime, and he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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John Robert Myers II
In October 2006, Myers went to trial and was ultimately found guilty of Jill's murder. He was sentenced to 65 years in prison. Myers continued to deny his guilt after his conviction. Years later, in September 2019, a District Court judge in Indianapolis took another look at the case and ultimately decided to vacate the murder conviction against Myers. The decision came after it was deemed that Myers received "ineffective assistance of counsel" during his trial, which is a violation of Sixth Amendment rights. It was also determined that Myers' attorneys made inaccurate statements to the jury during opening statements.

After years of thinking justice had been served, Jill Behrman's family is back at square one. Jill's mother still believes Myers is responsible and hopes that the State will decide to retrial him. 

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