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Crime News

Man Gets Max Sentence For 'Horror Show' Murder In Indiana’s Okie Pinokie Woods

Ethan Cain was one of three people accused of luring Drake Smith into the woods before beating him with a pipe.

By Jax Miller
Ethan Cain Pd

An Indiana man was handed the max sentence for the 2018 murder of a man he beat to death in the woods. 

Ethan Cain, 24, was one of three people charged in connection to the death of Drake Smith, 22, according to the Kokomo Tribune. A judge sentenced him to 55 years on Feb. 1 as part of a plea deal, dismissing his previous charges of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, theft and obstruction of justice.

“We were all given life sentences that day,” prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Sinkovics read on behalf of the victim’s mother. “It’s an emptiness that will never go away.”

On the morning of May 19, 2018, mushroom hunters came upon Smith’s body in a wooded area on the Okie Pinkie Trail in the Frances Slocum State Forest, according to the Indiana State Police.

Four days later, authorities secured arrest warrants for Ethan Cain and another man, Joshua Kean, 27.

A SWAT team with the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office located Cain and Kean at a California campsite near the Mexican border, according to the Tribune. Kean evaded capture but was apprehended three days later. 

According to court documents cited by the Tribune, the two men allegedly entered into a plot with Brittany Morris, 17, who police say wanted to rob Smith because she believed he’d have illegal drugs in his possession. 

On the night of the murder, the victim, Smith, arrived at the Marion Walmart parking lot at around 11:30 p.m., as captured on security footage. Around 30 minutes later, a second car entered the parking lot; police say that Morris exited that vehicle and joined Smith in his truck. 

Approximately eight minutes later, Cain and Kean exited the second vehicle and went into Walmart to purchase a cheesecake, according to the Tribune.

Smith then drove out of the parking lot with Morris still in his vehicle and headed in the direction of the Okie Pinokie woods. Cain and Kean were not far behind. 

According to witnesses at Okie Pinokie, Morris and Smith joined a group of other people for a party in the woods, but Cain and Kean only arrived as the party winded down to only a few. One witness was left when, they told police, they saw Cain try and choke Smith from behind. Cain then took a metal pipe and beat Smith to death as he pleaded for his life.

As the beating took place, Morris and Kean allegedly robbed Smith’s truck, stealing his clothes, cash, drugs, beer and a small speaker. 

Morris was arrested while serving time at a juvenile detention center for an unrelated probation violation, according to the Kokomo Tribune. She and Kean were later charged with the same crimes as Cain, with Kean getting an additional charge for assisting a criminal.

Morris will be tried as an adult.

At Cain’s sentencing on Tuesday, Miami County Probation Officer Cathy Knight — who produced Cain’s pre-sentence investigation — detailed the brutality of Smith’s murder, citing how the witness referred to it as a “horror show.” 

The witness allegedly described the sounds of the pipe hitting Smith’s head as “crunching gravel.” Knight described Smith’s injuries, which included trauma to the eye sockets, jawbone, neck and a brain hemorrhage, as part of his report. 

“I’m sorry for my actions,” Cain said as he addressed Smith’s family in court. “Nothing I can ever say will ever be enough. I would like to deliver Drake back into your lives.”

Kean is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Feb. 10, and Morris is scheduled for hers on March 24.