A three-man crime spree on the morning of Nov. 10 ended in the murder of an Indianapolis pastor’s pregnant wife, according to a newly released legal filing.
Officials on Monday announced murder charges against two men—Larry Jo Taylor, Jr., 18, and Jalen Watson, 21—in the shooting death of Amanda Blackburn in the Indianapolis home she shared with her husband Pastor Davey Blackburn. A third man, Diano Gordon, 24, faces related burglary charges.
The Marion County prosecutor’s office announced the charges on Monday, hours after police announced Taylor’s arrest. He and Watson also face charges for felony burglary, theft, robbery and auto theft.
Before Watson’s charges were announced, Davey Blackburn said in a statement that he was “extremely relieved” by the news of Taylor’s arrest and that he hoped “that Jesus would give me and our family a heart of forgiveness.”
“Though everything inside of me wants to hate, be angry, and slip into despair I choose the route of forgiveness, grace and hope,” Blackburn said in the statement posted Monday morning on the Resonate Church’s Facebook page.
“Though it does not undo the pain we are feeling, I was extremely relieved to get the news of the arrest made last night of Amanda’s killer,” he said. Investigators told him that they have a strong case, Blackburn said, adding that he was thankful for their “compassion and professionalism.”
“If there is one thing I’ve learned from Amanda in the 10 years we were together, it’s this: Choosing to let my emotions drive my decisions is recipe for a hopeless and fruitless life,” he said.
The Blackburns moved to Indianapolis in January of 2012 “with a dream and a calling to start a life-giving church that would connect with people who normally wouldn’t connect with church,” the couple wrote on Resonate Church‘s Web site.
In the nearly three years that followed, they filled their church and their house. They had a baby boy together and, this fall, Amanda learned she was pregnant again. Even without an official test, they were “sure” it was a girl, according to NBC News.
But on the morning of Nov. 10, the couple’s seemingly perfect life shattered.
Sometime before 5:30 a.m., police say, Watson, Taylor and Gordon embarked on a small crime spree in search of money that would end at the Blackburn residence.
They allegedly broke into an apartment miles away from the Blackburns where they stole an iPhone from the sleeping occupant’s bedroom, car keys, a laptop and a wallet, according to an account provided to the police by an unnamed “cooperating individual” and outlined in a probable cause affidavit.
After discovering a security camera in the residence, Taylor wanted to kill the sleeping occupant, but Watson and Gordon talked him down, the account says. According to the affidavit, the trio then moved on to another house where they stole TV’s and a laptop, loading them into the previously stolen car.
In search of even more money, they finally arrived at the unlocked Blackburn residence, with Amanda, then 12 weeks pregnant, and her 15-month-old son inside.Authorities say Taylor hit Blackburn with his gun and stayed at the house while the other two drove off to retrieve money from an ATM using her card.
Afterwards, Taylor reportedly told Watson, Gordon and two others that he killed Blackburn, authorities say.
“Taylor stated that she charged at him and he shot her somewhere in the upper body so he would not be scratched,” the document states. “Taylor then told them that he leaned over her body and shot her in the back of the head. He leaned further, looked at her face, and watched her bleed.”
Her husband returned home from the gym around 7:30 a.m. that morning, but remained on the phone with a friend in the driveway until about 8:20 a.m., according to the affidavit. When he entered the house, he found his wife nude and face down in blood on the living room floor. At an afternoon news conference Monday, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said there was “no sufficient evidence to file sexual assault charges.”
Amanda Blackburn died two days later in the hospital. The unborn child did not survive; the couple’s toddler was unharmed.
The mysterious and seemingly random murder shocked both the city and the country.
“She loved the people who were unlovable, gave hope to people who didn’t have hope, didn’t think they had a future,” Davey told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” last week. “Amanda didn’t have an enemy in the world. … That’s why this has baffled us as much as anybody.”
Police quickly released grainy surveillance video footage of a young man spotted near the Blackburns’ house that morning.
“We know who killed her,” IMPD police Capt. Craig Converse said during a Nov. 13 news conference, according to the Associated Press. “At least we have a picture of him, but we don’t know the name.”
For more than a week, however, it appeared the case was going nowhere.
But on Sunday night, 10 days after Amanda died in the hospital, police arrested Taylor for her killing.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Rick Hite praised his officers and federal authorities for quickly solving the crime.
“All victims of criminal homicides deserve closure, and as a community we must send a collective message that violence is not an option,” he said in a statement. “Our detectives have worked tirelessly going days without sleep to solve murders in our city. With the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler and Prosecutor Terry Curry justice will be done!”
Davey Blackburn also made it clear his wife’s death has deepened, not shaken, his faith.
“I read Amanda’s journal entry just a few days before — she journaled every day of her life — just a few days before she was killed,” he told ABC. “She put something in there that just spoke volumes to us that we’re deriving strength from. She said, ‘We don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds the future and that’s Jesus.’
“We’re drawing our strength from that and we know that Jesus holds the future and we can’t see it clearly but she sees it clearly now because she’s in Heaven with Jesus and we’ll see her soon.”
This post has been updated.