WHITLEY COUNTY — An Indiana man accused of being involved in the September 2017 deaths of a Williamsburg woman, her husband and her son continued to represent himself in court on Wednesday.
Darnel Chivers, 34, appeared in Whitley Circuit Court Wednesday for a hearing and although council was presented alongside him, Chivers insisted on representing himself and allowed council to only take on an advisory role. Chivers first refused an attorney earlier this year, during his arraignment, where Judge Paul Winchester attempted to appoint him a public defender for the purposes of those proceedings.
Wednesday’s hearing was to determine whether or not police would be permitted to use any reasonable force necessary to collect a DNA sample from Chivers through means of either blood, hair, skin or saliva.
Chivers with his hands and feet in cuffs told the court that officials had already stolen his DNA off of a water bottle during questioning.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling said he had no knowledge of that and prepared a written order to obtain a DNA sample Wednesday. Chivers was taken to the Whitley County Detention Center where a blood draw was pending. While the blood draw was pending Bowling said he consented to a buccal (a cheek) swab.
Chivers is due back in court at 9 a.m. on September 17.
Emogene Gardner Bittner, 36; Christopher Bittner, 24; and Robert Kennedy III, 16, were found dead in their Deep Branch Road home Sept. 13, 2017. All three had died from strangulation, according to autopsies performed by the state medical examiner.
Emogene Bittner’s mother, Kathy Faulkner, entered the home that day to find her daughter’s body and called 911, indicating it was a possible suicide.
Faulkner said in the call: “I walked in and there was a plastic bag wrapped around her [Emogene Bittner’s] head, and she was laying in the floor.”
The dispatcher questioned Faulkner about the bag later in the conversation.
“A garbage bag,” said Faulkner, in the recording. “I have been having some problems out of some guys in Indiana, but I think that they put them in jail or something. I don’t know.”
The bodies of Christopher Bittner and Kennedy were later found in the back yard in a similar state to that of Emogene Bittner’s body. At that time, the sheriff’s department ruled out suicide and began investigating the scene as a triple homicide.
For more than a year, little information concerning the deaths were released by the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, who initially was the chief investigating agency in the matter. Law enforcement officials only maintained that they believed the suspects to be from out of state.
The investigation that led to the arrests of Chivers and his two co-defendants, Anthony Hester, 39, and Jeremy Hatfield, 35, was launched in July 2018 after a family member requested a second investigation be performed into the deaths. The trio was arrested in December 2018 after a warrant was secured for their arrests.
Hester and Hatfield are also due back in court on at 9 a.m. on September 17.