News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 18, 2014

Police detail hunt for suspect in Lutes’ killing

T.H. native found dead from gunshot in Florida on Feb. 8

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute man whose body was found Feb. 8 in Florida had been reported missing by his mother almost two weeks earlier.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained from the Palm Beach County Clerk, 24-year-old Kyle Lutes died of a gunshot wound to the back of his head. The bullet recovered from Lutes’ skull was a .22-caliber class consistent with a firearm talked about by suspect Jay-Von Avery, 21, who now faces a charge of first-degree murder.

Detective Michael Bianchi reported that Lutes, a 2008 graduate of Terre Haute South Vigo High School, had attended several rehabilitation centers in recent months after he went to south Florida to get help with a drug addiction. Lutes left his last rehab in January, Bianchi reported, and he then lost contact with his parents.

His mother reported him mising Jan. 26, and a description of his 2007 auto was put into a database.

The Lutes car was located in a traffic stop on Feb. 6. Police said the woman driving the car was Jay-Von Avery’s sister. She told police that her brother had borrowed the car from Lutes. Police noticed that the car had three bullet holes in it.

Police contacted Avery, who stated that he paid Lutes $150 to let him borrow the car for eight days. He said he had not been in contact with Lutes since then, but in the past they had communicated often. Avery also told police that Lutes had stayed at the home of Avery’s mother for a while. Lutes’ body was found Feb. 8 in a wooded area near a lake less than a mile from the Avery residence by a man walking his dog near The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens.

On Feb. 9, the day after police recovered Lutes’ body, police were called to the Avery residence for a domestic disturbance. A woman at the house told police that her brother had battered her and that he had said he had “shot some boy.” The woman said her brother had become agitated on the day before when she drove him to work and he noticed that police were searching the area where the body of Lutes was found.

Avery was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery on Feb. 10. He was questioned by police on Feb. 11 about the disappearance of Lutes, the report states, and at that time, Avery told police he was the last person to see Lutes alive.

On Feb. 12, the sheriff’s forensic biology unit confirmed that the body was Lutes.

Avery appeared in Palm Beach County court Sunday where he was ordered held without bail. A speedy trial date was set for Aug. 9.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.