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Man found guilty of strangling, stabbing woman to death inside church

Crime Scene
Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

An Indianapolis man was convicted Tuesday of murdering a woman who was found strangled and stabbed inside a local Catholic church, according to a prosecutor handling the case. 

Indiana resident Robert Burks was found guilty of the homicide of Julie Morey, which occurred on Nov. 3, 2019. 

According to a statement from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Morey’s body was found on a couch with multiple stab wounds inside St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fountain Square. 

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears stated that the 58-year-old woman’s autopsy report revealed that she died from stab wounds and strangulation.

“This case was solved through a true community effort,” Mears wrote in a statement shared with The Christian Post. “Witnesses and nearby businesses played a crucial role throughout the investigation and prosecution, which ultimately led to justice for Ms. Morey and her family.”

Before her death, Morey filed a police report alleging that Burks had previously punched her in the face, giving her black eyes, detectives learned during their investigation. 

Following this discovery, witnesses identified Burks as a potential suspect. A forensics report later revealed that “Burks’ DNA was on the victim’s hands, face, neck, and underneath her fingernails,” according to the prosecutor’s office. 

A sentencing hearing will be held on March 10 at 11 a.m. in Indianapolis’ Marion Superior Court.

The Christian Post reached out to St. Patrick Catholic Church for comment on the conviction. A response was not received by press time.

Previously, church leaders said that Morey, who was homeless, wasn’t a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church but had been visiting the church for at least the last two years, The Associated Press reported.

Shortly after Morey’s death, dozens gathered at the church in freezing temperatures to celebrate her life. According to The Indianapolis Star, Morey was remembered as someone with a heart of gold who always seemed to be smiling despite her life situation. 

“She was very kindhearted. She would give anybody anything, even if it meant that she was to do without,” resident Kenneth Burcham was quoted as saying during the event. “She would literally give you whatever she had.”

When Brooks was charged with Morey’s killing, he was already detained at Monroe County Jail on felony battery charges related to a December 2018 case, court records show. 

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