Elkhart man exonerated of 2002 murder

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:44 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - A mentally disabled Elkhart man who spent 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit has officially been exonerated of a 2002 murder.

Documents say Andrew Royer was interrogated for two days before he confessed to killing 94-year-old Helen Sailor in her downtown Elkhart apartment.

Years later, the court found that Elkhart Detective Carl Conway disregarded the man’s mental disability and fed him details of Sailor’s murder during the interview.

Royer is now the fifth person to be exonerated from Elkhart, and the second in this case alone. His lawyers are calling it unacceptable and shameful.

“The detective taking the stand withholding the fact that he fed Andy information after he coerced him into a false confession,” says Elliot Slosar, adjunct professor at the Notre Dame Law School. “The state withheld the fact that that is only a fraction of the expository evidence that led to Andy Royer’s wrongful conviction in 2004.”

Royer’s family members are also speaking out.

“I was told right after he got in by an attorney that he was innocent,” says Royer’s mother. “They could see it in his paperwork. It still took 17 years for him to be able to prove that, for him telling people, ‘I’m innocent.’ And nobody listened.”

Chief of Police Kris Seymore opened an internal investigation and also placed Conway on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

Statement from the Elkhart Police Department:

“On April 8, 2021, the Court of Appeals of Indiana issued a published opinion reference the Successive Post-Conviction Relief evidentiary hearing, which was held on in October of 2019. The release described some of Carl Conway’s testimony as contradicting, misrepresenting and false when comparing to portions of his testimony from the 2005 criminal trial.

Upon receiving the publishing, Chief of Police, Kris Seymore, opened an internal investigation, conducted by the Office of Professional Standards, regarding Carl Conway’s involvement in the Andrew Royer investigation. Furthermore, Chief Seymore placed Lieutenant Carl Conway on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Due to the internal investigation, the Elkhart Police Department cannot discuss or provide further details.

Upon completion of the internal investigation, Professional Standards will forward the investigation to the Captains Review Board for evaluation and review. After the Captains Review Board has completed their review, the investigation will be sent to the chief for review. We anticipate the process being completed in the next few weeks.”

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