An Indiana teenager is accused of shooting his own father to death and then letting his friend take the fall for the murder.
James Jason Burkhart, 51, was shot to death at a home in Centerville on Dec. 19, local outlet WXIN reported earlier this month.
Following the grim discovery of Burkhart’s body, investigators were alerted that a murder suspect may have been fleeing the state, en route to Ohio. That night, the Ohio State Highway Patrol spotted a vehicle matching the description provided, driven by a friend of Burkhart's 16-year-old son, WIXN reported. The teen, 15, didn’t stop when approached by law enforcement, leading to a pursuit, according to authorities. The chase ended after the car crashed into a ditch in Columbus, local outlet WCMH reports.
The teenage driver was taken to a hospital in serious but stable condition. He allegedly claimed responsibility for killing his friend’s father.
However, investigators got a hold of security footage, which allegedly painted a different story. They say footage showed that it was Burkhart’s son who shot his father, WXIN reports. Investigators believe the pair lured Burkhart into the friend's home, where his own son shot him in the head. The son then allegedly shot his dad again, with a different gun.
Audio from the footage allegedly reveals that the friend said he would take the fall for the killing. His reason for doing so is unclear.
The friend then fled to Ohio with both guns in Burkhart's car, the probable cause statement alleges.
Burkhart’s son was arrested in Indiana and he faces one count of murder, a press release from the Indiana State Police states. He is expected to be charged as an adult. His friend faces murder and vehicular theft charges. He is currently in the juvenile court system.
Burkhart held both psychology and art degrees and had retired from working as a safety director for the state, according to his obituary.
"My dad was a really funny guy who loved life and loved to joke," Jason Burkhart, another son of the slain man, told Oxygen.com.
His obituary said that he was a friend to all.
“He was quick to tell a good joke that allowed you to experience his contagious laughter, and debate for hours proving his point," it reads. "He was lovingly known as Grumpy Paws to his grandchildren, and Uncle Meanie Head to his nieces and nephews, who loved and favored him.”
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.