According to court documents released Friday afternoon, Westfield double homicide murder suspect Christian Rene Haley, 20, was a former employee of Sundown Gardens, a lawn-care business owned by the Todd Erb, the victims’ husband and father. The investigation found that Haley worked for Sundown Gardens for about three months – from March to June – before he was fired for poor attendance.
Haley, an Indianapolis resident, was arrested Dec. 26 in connection with the death of Marylyn Erb, 52, and Kelley Erb, 23, on Dec. 20. He has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of robbery (a felony), one count of burglary (a felony) and theft. Haley is currently in the Hamilton County Jail.
Police began investigating the killing of a mother and daughter found dead in their Westfield home on Dec. 20 after being called to the home in the 15000 block of Oak Park Court at 4:42 p.m. by Todd. Once there, officers found the Marylyn and Kelley dead in the home’s basement, and the family’s Buick Enclave was missing. Todd told police several items had been stolen from the home, including jewelry, an iPhone, credit cards and up to $2,000 in cash.
Autopsies confirmed the cause of death for each woman was from blunt force trauma. The weapon used to kill them is unknown, although court documents quote an acquaintance of Haley’s who reported Haley said he’d “bashed their heads in with cement or something.”
The same acquaintance told police that Haley had talked about robbing an ex-boss because he’d gotten fired, and that Haley “is one of those guys who would go shoot the place up.” Authorities say a cell phone tower in Westfield tower placed Haley close to the crime scene at the time of the murders.
On Dec. 24, police received a break in the case when a detective got a call from a Crime Stoppers tipster who thought he recognized the “person of interest” whose picture police had released to the media. The caller reported this person talking about the murders and indicated that Haley had been involved.
“Citizens have been great with giving us different tips they think may be useful,” WPD Cpt. Charles E. Hollowell said.
Police traced fraudulent debit card use to a vehicle captured on video. That eventually led them to Haley’s acquaintance.
The bank cards stolen in the crime were used multiple times at different locations on the afternoon of Dec. 20. Records show each card had just one successful transaction with a PIN; the other attempts to use the card were declined.
Haley’s acquaintance told police that Haley gave him the cards, and that he used them at a CVS and a Crown Liquors store. He also said Haley withdrew $500 using one of the cards.
The man told police Haley admitted to him that Haley had killed Marylyn and Kelley Erb, but that Haley was laughing, so he didn’t know if “he was for real.”
This investigation has been a multiagency effort that consisted of officers from the Westfield, Noblesville, Carmel, Lawrence and Indianapolis Metropolitan police departments; Hamilton County’s sheriffs, prosecutors and coroners offices; Indiana State Police and the U.S. Marshalls.
“The City of Westfield would like to thank them for their ongoing assistance and resources dedicated to this investigation,” Hollowell said. “With state and Hamilton County agencies, mutual aid is superb. The additional resources are a benefit.”
Senior Pastor Dave Rodriguez said the Erb family has belonged to the Grace Community Church in Noblesville congregation for many years and were active members. Marylyn was a member of a small group and involved in the church’s women’s group and Kelley was part of a young adults organization and also served in Grace Kids.
“Our hearts break for the Erb family and everyone who has been impacted by this horrific act. We do not know why tragedies like this happen,” Rodriguez said.
The Erb family released a statement through the Rodriguez, after the Dec. 26 arrest of Haley.
“On behalf of the Erb family, we want to say first of all thank you to the entire community for their concern, care, and prayers over these difficult days. Also want to say thank you to law enforcement, who’ve done incredible work getting to this point. But also want to note that in the next 24 hours, they want to focus their attention on honoring and remembering the lives of MaryLyn and Kelley Erb,” he said.
Kelley was a student at Ivy Tech, where she was pursuing her degree in early childhood education. A graduate of Heritage Christian High School, she previously studied at Indiana Wesleyan University. Kelley loved animals, especially dogs and horses, and singing in her high school choir.
Marylyn was a homemaker. She grew up in Lowell and earned her nursing degree from Indiana University. Marylyn was said to have a passion for serving her family and loved spending time with her grandchildren. She and husband, Todd, celebrated their 30th anniversary in February.
Hollowell said this is the first homicide in Westfield since Nicholas Reners’ death in July 2008.