Homicide defendant returned to Indiana

John Gonzalez

A Terre Haute man wanted in a Greencastle homicide investigation has been returned to Indiana and is awaiting a hearing in Putnam Superior Court.

John Hosea Gonzalez, 28, was booked into the Vigo County Jail at 5:13 p.m. Thursday on a warrant from Vigo Superior Court 6 in connection with a 2010 criminal conviction. A Monday hearing in that case has been cancelled, however, and a hearing on the murder charge is now pending in Putnam County.

Gonzalez was booked out of the Vigo County Jail about noon today, and was booked into the Putnam County at 1:12 p.m. to face charges of murder, auto theft and theft of a firearm in connection with the Jan. 28 death of 44-year-old Melissa Attkisson.

Attkisson's body was found late Feb. 28 by her son in the bedroom of a Greencastle home she shared with Gonzalez.

An autopsy conducted Jan. 29 at Terre Haute Regional Hospital by pathologist Roland Kohr showed she had a bullet wound to the abdomen and injuries to her head.

Attkisson's cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head.

Information in a probable cause affidavit filed Wednesday indicates Greencastle police saw Gonzalez as a suspect in Attkisson's death from the beginning of the investigation.

Her black 2016 Ford Escape was missing, as was her cell phone, identification cards, credit and debit cards and handgun. Gonzales could not be located by police.

On Monday, her vehicle was found abandoned in a remote field in Rock Island County, Illinois, and Gonzales was found walking down a nearby road. Illinois police took Gonzalez into custody on a Vigo County warrant for a probation violation issued Jan. 30 in connection with a 2010 sexual battery case. That warrant was recalled today, and a hearing in Vigo Superior Court 6 was cancelled.

On Feb. 4, the court document states, police questioned a Brazil woman who said she met Gonzalez for the first time on Jan. 25. She said on Jan. 29 she went with Gonzalez to the Walmart on U.S. 41 in Terre Haute in Attkisson's vehicle. At that time, Gonzalez sold Attkisson's cell phone at a kiosk.

The woman said she also saw Gonzalez in possession of a handgun matching the gun owned by Attkisson.

Police recovered the cell phone and downloaded data that included images of Gonzalez.

The phone also had a video of Attkisson, appearing to have a gunshot wound to her torso and a severely battered face. Her handgun was lying nearby on a bed.

On a video taken near the time of her death in her home, Attkisson can be heard saying “John” and pleading for help.

A photo also showed the person taking photos with the phone was wearing gray tennis shoes consistent with the shoes Gonzalez was wearing when he was arrested in Illinois.

Putnam County Prosecutor Timothy Bookwalter said a court hearing for Gonzalez will likely occur no sooner than Monday.

In addition to the 2012 conviction for sexual battery in Vigo County, Gonzalez had a robbery conviction in Fountain County. He was sentenced to four years in the Indiana Department of Correction in that case. Online DOC offender records show Gonzalez was released from DOC custody in September 2019.

He has an active case in Vigo County from a 2015 charge of battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

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

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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