News and Tribune

April 26, 2013

Floyd coroner: Deaths of mom, 2 kids may remain mystery

Knable says bruises on mother’s body likely came from being in a creek

The Associated Press

NEW ALBANY — The Floyd County coroner said the deaths of a woman and her two children whose nude bodies were found last month in a shallow creek are unlike any case she’s worked on and that officials may never know for certain how the trio died.

Coroner Leslie Knable said that “short of a big break,” the deaths of 35-year-old Jaime Clutter, 10-year-old Brandon and 6-month-old Katelyn may remain a mystery.

Knable made her comments Thursday, a day after Prosecutor Keith Henderson announced he would convene a grand jury to investigate the Clutters’ deaths because he had not received any updates from police since mid-March.

The Clutters’ bodies were found March 13 floating in a creek at a New Albany park. The prosecutor’s office initially said the children drowned and that their mother’s death remained under investigation.

Knable told WLKY-TV she’s still waiting for the complete autopsy reports before signing the Clutters’ death certificates. She said she expects the cause of death ruling will be consistent with drowning for all three but doubts whether investigators will ever have a definitive cause of death on any of the Clutters.

Knable said Jaime Clutter had some cuts and bruises on her body, but they weren’t life-threatening and were likely caused from being in the creek.

As for the Clutters’ manner of death — homicide, suicide, accident or something else — she said that may never be known, although investigators are still working on the case.

“Unless there’s a big break in this case, it’s going to be undetermined,” she said. “... I don’t mind saying I’m still confused on this one.”

Clutter and her two children were found nude in the creek with their clothes nearby. A Bible was in a baby harness hanging from a nearby tree limb.

Investigators initially said it was possible the Clutters’ deaths were a murder-suicide — a possibility they reiterated Wednesday.

Knable said she informally ran that scenario by a national drowning expert, who called that unlikely.

“She said, statistically, the chance this mother did this is almost zero. Of course, there’s a first time for everything,” Knable said.

Prosecutors have said that Michael Clutter, Jaime’s husband and the father of the two children, has been cooperative and there is no evidence he was present when the deaths occurred.

Michael Clutter had previously told WLKY that it wasn’t possible his wife could have killed their children and then herself.

“He has said he’ll never accept it. He said he wants to, he uses the words, ‘Clear my wife’s name. I want to clear my wife’s name,”’ Knable said.

She said she speaks nearly every day to Michael Clutter, who moved his family in December from Aberdeen, Wash., to New Albany to take a job in the area.