INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis woman is asking for a new investigation into the 2010 death of her mother, Julia Henemyre.
Julia died 11 years ago this week at the age of 53, on December 18, 2010.
She was found in a snowbank near South Keystone and Werges Avenue and later died at a hospital.
Julia’s death was ruled an accident, but her daughter, Amanda Walterman, believes someone caused her death.
Walterman is hoping to take advantage of a new law, Senate Enrolled Act 177, that allows families to request Indiana State Police do a new investigation into an uncharged death.
Amanda is one of 20 families who have requested ISP’s help under SEA 177.
She describes her mom Julia as a “fun mom,” who loved to laugh but also struggled with substance abuse.
"She had her demons," said Amanda. “She had her issues. But I loved my mom."
Amanda last talked to her mom the night of December 17, 2010.
"I wasn't in a very good mood because my flight had been delayed,” said Amanda. “I didn't know that was going to be the last time I ever spoke to her."
The next day, Amanda learned her mom was found unresponsive in a snowbank and taken to the hospital as a Jane Doe where she died.
Julia’s death appeared on local news including WRTV as a death investigation.
Julia’s death was later ruled an accident, and the cause of death was listed as hypothermia.
When her mom died, Amanda was just 22 years old.
"I had it in my head that it was just a drunken accident,” said Amanda. “She had fallen down in the snow."
But as Amanda got older, she wanted to learn more about her mom including how she died.
She obtained copies of the autopsy report and photos, the death investigation report and crime scene photos.
“I just want to know what happened,” said Amanda.
After reviewing the documents, Amanda learned her mom was found topless in a pool of blood.
The autopsy report revealed multiple blunt force injuries to Julia’s face and body, including a swollen lip and hemorrhages to the head.
"She had what I would call defensive marks up and down her arms and two different head injuries,” said Amanda.
IMPD’s death investigation report says Julia’s boyfriend was found with blood on his face in the driver’s seat of a car.
Amanda says the car was her mother’s.
"From the pictures, it looks like her car was backed into a fence,” said Amanda. “So, I don’t know if that was her or if that was the boyfriend. I know the boyfriend was found sleeping in the car.”
The death investigation report says Julia was at a party when she took her top off and refused to leave.
Someone at the party told police he punched her in the face, and pushed Julia and the boyfriend out of the house.
“I think somebody followed her,” said Amanda. "I have a theory that someone hit her in the head, knocked her down and left her there."
IMPD interviewed people from the party, but no arrests were ever made.
Last month, Amanda filed a request under SEA 177, asking Indiana State Police to do a fresh investigation.
So far, Indiana State Police has received 20 requests under the new law.
"It's not lost on us, the emotion and the toll that has been taken on these families,” said ISP Captain Ron Galaviz. “That's why we are taking this so methodically and taking this step by step and objectively."
ISP has a dedicated investigator who reviews cases, as well as a six-person advisory board that makes recommendations to ISP Superintendent Doug Carter.
“We don’t want people to misconstrue that a brand-new investigation is being undertaken the minute that we receive this,” said Captain Galaviz. “We are establishing that the requirements of the statute are being met. That could include talking to the previous investigating agency, the coroner, maybe some family members.”
So far, of the 20 cases they’ve received, ISP has declined to investigate in seven of them and the rest are still under review.
"If this is a path you feel you must go down, review the law,” said Capt. Galaviz. “We know we owe it to those who are submitting these requests and we are definitely giving it our very best, regardless of what the recommendation and ultimate outcome is."
The holidays are tough for Amanda Walterman.
"She wasn't there for big moments of my life,” said Amanda. “She wasn't there when I got married. She won’t be there to meet her grandkids if I ever have kids."
But Amanda is hopeful Indiana State Police will do a fresh investigation and perhaps make an arrest.
"Maybe just her manner of death being changed from accident to inconclusive or even homicide,” said Amanda. "I want people to realize my mom had problems, but she was still a human being. Her life still mattered."
SEA 177 requires families to submit a request in writing to the superintendent of Indiana State Police explaining why they have a reasonable suspicion why the death was the result of a criminal act.
The family also has to notify local police and the prosecutor that they’re requesting an ISP investigation.
The new law applies only to uncharged deaths and does not apply if the loved one was under the care of a doctor or the death was the result of medical malpractice.
Indiana State Senator Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, said he drafted the legislation for SEA 177 after a Southern Indiana family contacted him because they felt the local sheriff mishandled the investigation into their loved one’s death.
"The family felt like they just did not have any options,” said Messmer. “They came to me last year and said ‘we just feel like we’ve exhausted all of our avenues.’”
Indiana State Police created this form you can use to request an investigation under SEA 177.