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May 17, 2013

POLICE: New Albany mother killed two children, then herself

NEW ALBANY — New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight said severe mental illness is what led to New Albany resident Jaime Clutter to drown her two children, then herself, in Falling Run Creek on March 13. The bodies were found where the creek runs through Binford Park.

In a press conference on Friday, Knight said her department hired independent mental health professionals to review the circumstances surrounding the deaths. After receiving autopsy results from the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, the department concluded that “the deaths of Mrs. Clutter and her children were consistent with drowning.” Knight said all toxicology reports were negative. She also said hypothermia played a role in the deaths and that marks found on Jaime Clutter’s body were consistent with being in moving water.

The bodies of 35-year-old Jaime Clutter and her two children, 10-year-old Brandon Clutter and 6-month-old Katelyn Clutter, were found in the creek around 5 p.m. on March 13. While authorities had previously confirmed the two children had drowned, they had not given specifics on how Clutter died or what led the three to the creek until Friday.

The department had been criticized recently by Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson, who said he was calling a special grand jury to investigate the case, for taking so long in its investigation. The final report from the NAPD was delivered to the prosecutor’s office Friday afternoon.

“While it is a goal of the department to solve cases in a timely manner, we will not release any information which will jeopardize the accuracy or integrity of the investigation,” Knight said. “The New Albany Police Department will continue to operate in a manner that ensures both accuracy and integrity, and any information released to the public will be held to these standards.”

Knight said based on the investigation, “mental illness was the underlying cause of these tragic events,” which included postpartum depression and that no charges will be filed.

NAPD Detective Carrie East said Clutter’s behavior “was concerning” to some witnesses leading up to March 13. She said Clutter was incoherent and delusional. East said Clutter spoke of a demonic presence.

Henderson previously said all three bodies were unclothed when found in the creek, which was several feet deep. He also said clothing was found scattered around the creek bed and a harness used to carry a baby along with a Bible were found hanging from a tree.

Mike Clutter, the husband and father of the two children, arrived home from work around 5 p.m. on March 13 and discovered his family missing from their Sheffield Square Apartment and became alarmed. That is when he went looking for them and found police at Binford Park. He told officers of his concerns.

A witness told police that she talked to Clutter and saw her two children around 7 a.m. on March 13 and said the three were not dressed properly for the cold temperatures outside — which were in the 30s.

“The expert indicated that mental disorders can be intensified when subjected to cold temperatures, thus further impairing one’s mental status and or judgment,” Knight read in her statement. “These findings all support the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s conclusion that exposure to the cold weather was a significant contributing factor in the drowning of Mrs. Clutter.”

The police department hired independent experts Diana Lynn Barnes from the Center for Postpartum Health in Sherman Oaks, Ca., and Dr. Daniel F. Danzl, from the University of Louisville Medical School, to help with the investigation.

The family moved to New Albany in December from the Seattle area. Henderson said they apparently liked the area and made several friends. Mike Clutter was not at Friday’s press conference.

 

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Theater students rehearse a scene from "Seussical the Musical," directed by Silver Creek Theater Director, Alonzo Richmond, and New Albany Theater Director Amy Harpenau at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater Thursday evening. The musical includes around 70 students from 12 local schools that will be performing Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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