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Murder charges filed against 17-year-old accused of killing family members

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday filed charges against the juvenile accused of murdering six people, including members of his family, a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Six murder charges were filed against 17-year-old Raymond Ronald Lee Childs III, online court records show. Childs was also charged with attempted murder and carrying a handgun without a license.

Childs is accused of shooting Raymond Childs Jr., 42; Kezzie Childs, 42; Elijah Childs, 18; Rita Childs, 13; and Kiara Hawkins, 19, and her unborn son at a home in the 3500 block of Adams Street Sunday morning.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers initially responded to the 3300 block of East 36th Street on a report of a person shot. Officers found a juvenile boy, later identified as Raymond Childs’s 15-year-old brother, who had been shot. He was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears held a press conference Thursday morning to announce the charges in the case, calling it a heartbreaking situation.

“Not only did so many people lose their lives, but you think about that family and what they were anticipating,” said Mears. “The baby was due in a week…When you think about the fact that that family was preparing for the birth of a child, it was probably going to be the best day in Ms. Hawkins’s life.”

Hawkins lived at the home with her boyfriend, Elijah, and his family, according to court documents.

A probable cause affidavit released to News 8 Thursday indicates the shooting stemmed from an argument between Raymond Childs III and his father Raymond Childs Jr.

“Being outside the residence and kind of sneaking out of the house, I think that is what initiated the dispute, where it went from there I think that is what we are trying to figure out,” said Mears. 

The surviving victim, Raymond’s 15-year-old brother, told investigators he was downstairs with his parents when he heard a gunshot and then heard his sister say, “he shot Elijah!” The victim said Raymond came downstairs and shot both of his parents. Once the gunshots stopped, the victim was able to escape through a side door of the house, but he told investigators Raymond chased after him.

“He just looked at me and then he shot me on the leg. I fell. He shot me in my arm. And then he tried to shoot me in the head but missed, I guess,” the victim told investigators.

Childs’s girlfriend also spoke to investigators, according to court documents. She said the suspect was at her house the night before the shooting when he got a call from his father, telling him to come home. Early the next morning, he came back to her house, this time with two bags of clothes, and said his father had kicked him out.

About 30 minutes after Childs arrived, his girlfriend got an alert from her Citizens app saying there had been a shooting on 36th Street and a shooting on Adams Street. She told investigators she asked Childs if he knew about it, and he said “no.”

Later in the morning on Sunday, Childs’s girlfriend took Childs to the crime scene where he began to cry. She told investigators later that afternoon she found a magazine clip with Childs’s things.

Detectives found Childs on Monday at a family member’s home in Indianapolis where he was arrested without incident.

Investigators believe Childs used two firearms, a 9-mm pistol and an AK-47-style assault rifle, that were owned by the family to commit the murders. One firearm was recovered at the scene and the other was recovered later after a family member of Childs told investigators Childs gave him the gun. Shell casings from both firearms were found at the crime scenes.

Mears thanked IMPD, detectives and the crime lab for their work in gathering evidence and helping the prosecution file charges quickly.

“Our community has suffered another trauma with the tragic loss of this family. Gun violence continues to take and damage too many lives,” he said. “We intend to seek justice for the victims, and to do so in a way that respects the process and all of the circumstances present in this case.”

Under Indiana law, prosecutors do not have an option to file murder charges in juvenile court since the suspect is 17 years old. Because Childs is not yet 18, prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty.

Childs did appear virtually in front of a judge Thursday afternoon. He answered all the judge’s questions and kept his head down for most of the hearing. He will remain in jail without bond. A trial date has tentatively been set for April. 

If convicted, Childs faces a minimum sentence of 45 years for each count of murder, and life in prison without parole.