Friends and colleagues reflect on Zionsville suspect’s motive, path to murder
By Ann Marie Shambaugh
He was known as a philanthropist, an advocate for the wellbeing of animals and a kind and caring person, but on Feb. 17 Lucius “Lu” Hamilton added double homicide suspect, man on the run and suicide victim to his resume.
Hamilton, 61, who lived on a Carmel estate along 116th Street, became a wanted man after police said he shot his niece, Katherine Hamilton Giehll, 31, and her four-year-old son, Raymond Peter Giehll IV, the morning of Feb. 17 in their Zionsville home on Old Hunt Club Road. After a manhunt that included local law enforcement agencies, the FBI and others, Hamilton was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a downtown Indianapolis hotel.
Those who knew Hamilton watched the news in horror throughout the day, wondering what could have caused such a tragic change in their friend.
“You wouldn’t ever, ever in a million years have thought this individual to be a murderer, and that is just what has got us so dumbfounded. He was very kind and generous to me, and very thoughtful,” said Tom Santelli, a Boone County councilor and member of the Traders Point Hunt Club, an organization that Hamilton “abruptly” left in 2012.
“That was a signal to me that something wasn’t quite right, because it was an important part of his life,” Santelli, adding that he didn’t read much into it at the time.
Santelli said Hamilton’s departure from the club – whose members do not use guns or kill animals during their hunts — came around the same time he had surgery for back problems, and he wonders if Hamilton may have become addicted to painkillers. He can think of few other ways to explain how his good friend transformed into a “hideous monster.” Police did find alcohol and prescription drugs in Hamilton’s hotel room.
Hamilton worked as a senior major gifts officer at Wabash College – which went into lockdown during the manhunt. Santelli said Hamilton had helped organize various charitable fundraisers over the years, and he served as chair of the board for the Humane Society of Indianapolis in 2002.
“I had talked to him once or twice on the phone, but that has been several years. I had invited him to come and see the place. When he left, the place was nearly $3 million in debt,” said John Aleshire, CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis. “All of that (debt) is gone, the organization is very much on track and even more, but I could never get a time with him to come and see us.”
Police said after his death that they believe financial gain was the motive in the killings. Santelli said he had heard rumblings of disagreements between family members regarding their inherited fortune, but he never got the impression it could escalate to murder.
Santelli last saw Hamilton a couple of months ago at a funeral, where Hamilton and his wife, Liz, seemed completely normal, he said. He didn’t try to contact Hamilton during the search, but he wishes he could have given his longtime friend one final message.
“I would’ve liked to have had the opportunity to go down to the hotel and talk to him and try and convince him to give himself up,” he said. “He needed to be served justice from the standpoint that he took a cowardly way out.”