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Man charged in son's death succumbs to injuries

By Joseph Slacian

The father charged with killing his 10-year-old son has died from injuries received following an exchange of gunfire with Wabash Police officers.

The father, William Sendelbach, 32, died Saturday at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, where he had been since the Oct. 8 incident, Wabash County Prosecutor William Hartley Jr. said during a press conference Monday morning, Oct. 26, in front of the Wabash County Judicial Annex.

Sendelbach had been charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in relation to the incident at 429 E. Maple St. Hartley also asked the court to consider a sentence of life without parole against Sendelbach. Since he has died, the criminal case will come to an end.

“Because the criminal case is over, that’s one thing,” Hartley said. “The pain and the torment that Sarah Sendelbach is going through is not going to cease. She’s going to continue to suffer from this, so we’re asking the community to really support her and her family. We’re hoping the community comes and really helps her through this process.”

Hartley, who was joined by officials from the Indiana State Police, the Wabash Police Department and his staff, also discussed several matters related to the case.

According to Hartley, Sendelbach’s wife, Sarah, had just started a job in Marion and was getting ready to go to work.

“William didn’t want her to go to work,” Hartley said. “He wanted her to stay home. Sarah had just started that job in Marion and needed to go to work. She didn’t want to miss work.

“William was a little upset about that, but not overly upset.”

Ten-year-old Kayden and his two younger siblings were asleep upstairs while his mother went downstairs preparing to go to work, Hartley continued, when she heard her husband yell that he had just killed Kayden.

The mother ran upstairs and found her son lying in bed with a stab wound to the head.

“At that time, William, we believe the allegations are, that William went to retrieve a 12-gauge shotgun, started to load it up,” Hartley said. “Sarah, the wife, in fear for her life and the two other kids’ lives, gathered the kids up and fled the apartment.

“They went to the neighboring duplex to escape.”

William Sendelbech went outside and shot at that passenger side window of a Wabash Valley Refuse trash truck that happened to be passing by, the prosecutor said. He also shot at the neighbor’s vehicle that was parked outside.

“During this time, officers from the Wabash Police Department – Sgt. Nick Brubaker and a couple of other officers, Dan Henderson and Phil Mickelson – were responding to this call,” Hartley said. “At this point they arrive at the scene and are trying to figure out what is going on. They know there’s some type of issue with a child. So, they’re arriving at the scene and making their way up to the door.”

As Brubaker was making his way toward the door, William Sendelbach rounds the corner of the house and fires at him, striking the officer in the right leg, along with a squad car.

“At that time, Sgt. Brubaker and Dan Henderson return fire and strike William Sendelbach several times,” the prosecutor continued, adding that Sendelbach shot another round at the officers before being subdued and placed into custody.

“Officers ran inside and found, upstairs, Kayden Sendelbach upstairs … still alive, but not doing very well.”

Hartley said he didn’t know exactly how many times William Sendelbach was shot, but thought it may have been at least three or four times.

Kayden Sendelbach passed away from his injuries on Oct. 10 at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

“The mother, Sarah, had to make the tough decision as to whether or not to donate his organs, and she chose to do that,” Hartley said, “so some good did come from this.”

Hartley praised Sarah Sendelbach for the heroism she showed on the day of the incident.

“She had the state of mind after seeing her son … in that bedroom, and having the state of mind knowing that she had to get out of that apartment to save herself and her kids, it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “For had she not gotten out, her and her kids may have died. She had the state of mind to gather her kids up and flee the scene.

“She also, in my mind, heroic, in that she had a young child who died and she’s willing to donate his organs to help other kids.”

Hartley also praised the Wabash Police Department and its response to this case.

“We train these officers and we put them in harm’s way sometimes,” he said. “These officers responded perfectly. They’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing because it was a justified shooting. William Sendelbach initiated this by shooting Sgt. Brubaker, and he responded as we expect.”

This is believed to be the first officer involved shooting in the City of Wabash since the 1950s.

Hartley said the frustrating thing about the entire situation is the fact that the motive for William Sendelbach stabbing his son is unknown.

“A couple things about this case that is very odd,” the prosecutor said, “is in the house (Williams Sendelbach) drew these pentagrams, is what I called them; he called them devil traps. He had this fascination with the devil and that type of thing.”

During interviews with the father, Hartley said he admitted that it was a senseless thing to do and could offer no reason as to why he did it. However, Hartley continued, the father showed no remorse over the matter.

“He kept bringing up the devil and that type of thing,” Hartley said. “Whether his fascination with the devil drove him to do it, we don’t know. There’s really no good explanation.

“I’ve been an elected prosecutor here 18 years and I’ve never had this type of murder case. It just breaks your heart. … It’s horrific.”

He said that while toxicology reports on William Sendelbach have yet to be received, but investigators found “no obvious evidence of drug use in the house.”

Posted on 2020 Oct 27