Folger said he will present evidence to a Lincoln County grand jury on Aug. 23 seeking indictments against the three women for conspiracy to commit murder.
According to the sheriff, McCoy was dispatched to Goode’s home just up the street from Hustonville Elementary School after a neighbor reported seeing four people go to the rear of the house and then two of them return to a car and leave. When McCoy arrived, he encountered Drass at the back door with a knife raised in her hand. McCoy drew his weapon and, after Drass retreated into the house, called for backup, Folger said.
When Folger and deputies Danny Gilliam and Bill Hester arrived on scene, McCoy had Drass and Horton in handcuffs. During their investigation, the officers recovered another butcher knife and another especially damning bit of evidence — Drass’s cell phone.
“The deaf can communicate very well with text messages,” Folger said. “I got a search warrant for the phone and it revealed what I was beginning to suspect.”
Folger declined to elaborate on the specific contents of the phone, but said he recovered evidence in texts and photographs that show the plan was to murder Goode that day. One of the messages, sent after Drass was in custody, was a desperate plea to delete the previous incriminating phone activity, he said.
Folger said he gained further corroboration of the murder plan after interviewing Kerry Zamara, also of Columbus. Zamara was at Goode’s home that day, but left with Callahan before police arrived. She was initially charged with complicity in the burglary and jailed, but the charge was later dismissed, court records show. Folger said he released Zamara on the condition she would cooperate in the investigation and testify against the others or risk being indicted herself.
“Kerry will be my witness,” the sheriff said.
According to Zamara’s account, she and Callahan left Hustonville and returned to Danville, leaving Horton and Drass at Goode’s home, where two windows had been broken out to gain entry. After arriving in Danville, Zamara, who also is deaf, became scared and texted a family member in Columbus to come get her.
Folger said he was able to text Zamara the next day and convince her to return to Lincoln County, where she was jailed on the complicity charge and interviewed with the help of an interpreter. Through Zamara and other sources, Folger said he was able to put the pieces of the plot together and determine a motive.
Callahan had previously been in a long-term relationship with Goode’s deaf daughter, Folger said. Callahan was not mad at the daughter over the break-up, Folger said, but resented the daughter’s interference with Callahan’s current girlfriend. The daughter had been helping Callahan’s current lover escape the abusive relationship by assisting her in getting emergency protective orders, Folger explained.
“Jessica was wanting to get back at (the daughter) by attacking her mother,” Folger said.
According to Folger, the four women became acquainted via the Internet, using computers equipped with Web cameras that allowed them to establish video contact and communicate using sign language. Callahan made a trip to Columbus to meet the women prior to going back to get them and bring them to Danville, the sheriff said.
Folger said he has not yet determined if Callahan befriended the Ohio women with the intention of enlisting them in the murder plan or “they just hatched it after they got back here.”
“Jessica is the leader of this thing,” Folger said. “I understand she’s a pretty intimidating person, very manipulative.”
Callahan, who was in custody in Boyle County on other charges before being charged in the burglary, has not yet been arraigned in Lincoln District Court, court records show. Drass and Horton have pleaded not guilty on the burglary and assault charges and their cases were handed up to the grand jury after preliminary hearings in Lincoln District Court last month.
Folger is convinced the three will be indicted on murder conspiracy charges when the grand jury convenes later this month.
“I feel like we’ve got a real strong case,” he said.