Murder charges filed after death of Wabash man


WABASH COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a Wabash man in July.

Police charged Jerry Copeland, 42, of Wabash with murder on August 26. He was taken into custody on July 16, a day after the death of Richard “Alex” Watkins, on drug-related charges.

The Wabash County Coroner officially ruled the cause of death a homicide by firearm.

As WANE 15 previously reported, Wabash City Police were called to the 200 Block of East Main Street on July 15 around 11:00 p.m. They found a man lying near the street. Wabash City Police said the man was already dead.

A press release issued on July 17 indicates that Wabash City Police were actively investigating the scene, interviewing witnesses and neighbors. At the time, the identity of the man or cause of death was not released.

Don Watkins said he rushed to East Main Street after his son’s ex-girlfriend called to say that his son was lying in the road dead. When he arrived, a yellow house was cordoned off with crime scene tape. He learned his son was laying face down in the yard.

Wabash City Police Detectives and Indiana State Police Crime Scene Technician were on scene.

He and his daughter Audra Watkins said they had become frustrated with the investigation.

“I want to believe that they are working very hard on this,” she said. “But we don’t have any information we haven’t been told anything. We want closure, that’s what we’re after. That’s what my parents need.”

They said police had not confirmed if Richard Watkins’ death is being investigated criminally and the coroner had not released and official cause of death.

“You can’t get an answer from nobody on this,” He said. “When I talk to the prosecutor they say they are waiting on the police. When I talk to the police they say they are waiting on the prosecutor.”

Watkins said he obtained a copy of his son’s autopsy report and toxicology report. He shared both reports with WANE 15’s Angelica Robinson.

The report, which is dated Aug. 2, indicates that the younger Watkins died of a gunshot wound to the chest and his manner of death ruled a homicide. It said there was a possible fight in a Park. Watkins was found with a gunshot wound outside of a home and shell casings were nearby.

“They have never said a murder, they never even said a shooting. They just said loud bangs,” said Watkins. “All we want is some closure on this. The people responsible for this should answer to their crime.”

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