New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger
Some say what's about to happen, is a crime in and of itself. Following his years on the run, Terry Avery copped a plea and got 35 years in prison. A surprising sentence for those close to the case.
Now imagine their surprise when they learned Avery will be released from prison in April after serving only a third of that sentence.
"I thought he would probably end up killing me," says Lisa Sims.
For more than 20 years Lisa has remained silent about what happened in the early hours of September 15th, 1981. "My stepdad was protecting me and Terry killed him."
Lisa says Terry Avery came to Mackey Tavern looking for trouble after she had ended their relationship. "He tried to get me to leave with him and I told him no. I went to the jukebox, and played the jukebox, and he went over there and put a gun under my chin."
Lisa says her stepfather, Jack Kendall, stepped in and took the gun away from Avery. After that, she says Kendall removed the bullets, but he made the fatal mistake of returning the gun to Avery. Hours later after the bar had closed Avery returned.
"He raised the window from the outside and Jack had a gun on him," explains Lisa. "He told Jack that his car broke down and he needed to call his dad, and so Jack said I will call him for you. And I seen Jack put the hammer down and tilt the gun back in his hand and I thought don't take your eye off him, he's crazy. And about that time a shot went off, and four more shots went off, and then I heard Terry crashing in the door."
Lisa says her stepfather was shot multiple times in the back and the head.
Mackey Tavern has changed since the 80's and so has its ownership, but retired detective Mike Sibbit remembers the case well. "There was an older wooden door and the entire bottom of that door was kicked in, and there was a hole big enough for a person like Avery to get in and get back out."
Avery took Sims at gunpoint and held her hostage for a week. She says she was raped, beaten and threatened by Avery.
"He cocked the gun twice that week and put it to my forehead," says Sims.
Detective Sibbit says it didn't take long to realize who they were looking for. "He did have a reputation of being mean and tough. He was very well known, especially to the officers in Warrick County. And I had even heard of him, even though I worked mainly in Gibson County."
Sims says she eventually talked Avery into turning himself in, but he didn't stay behind bars long. Terry Avery made the news again, escaping from the Gibson County jail while awaiting trial. Again, Terry Avery was on the run, this time for nine years.
"I searched every hunter's cabin in Warrick County," states detective Sibbit. "I'd been looking for him and the FBI had been looking for him."
It was the only case detective Sibbit says he left unfinished when he retired. "I always like to put the cuffs on them myself if possible, but this was one case where it wasn't possible."
Sibbit was relieved in 1991, when he heard the FBI was hot on Terry Avery's trail and he had turned himself in. But because so much time had passed, and witnesses had gotten older, Avery was offered a deal of 35 years.
"I think he was fortunate to get the plea agreement that he got, based on all that he was charged with," Sibbit says. "He was charged with murder, he was charged with criminal confinement, which is about the same thing as kidnapping, he was charged with being an habitual offender, and then after he escaped, there were charges filed against him for the escape. So, I think he was very, very fortunate to get the plea agreement that he got."
But Lisa Sims and the family of Jack Kendall didn't realize just how fortunate he was. In April, Terry Avery is set to leave the Plainfield Correctional Facility in Plainfield Indiana.
"He's taken away something from us, but he's going to get out of jail and have his life back," says Jack Kendall's son, Brian. "But what he's taken from us we can't replace that."
Brian Kendall was in high school when his dad was shot and killed at the tavern he managed. "He's got three grandkids he's never seen."
"Jack helped a lot of people, especially me," explains Ronnie Kendall. "I had four kids and when I needed help, he helped me, and I loved him very much."
Jack Kendall died protecting his stepdaughter, Lisa Sims. "To this day, I hate the fact that Jack died taking up for me," says Lisa.
Terry Avery came to Mackey Tavern looking for her. After he killed Kendall, he kidnapped her, holding her hostage for a week. A week Lisa says was "hell".
"He's a no-good chicken, that's the way he was, because he shot him in the back, and shot him twice in the head," exclaims Ronnie Kendall. "And then he took his foot and stomped his head."
Lisa Sims received a letter warning her about Avery's early release, but no one contacted Jack Kendall's family. "It's like there's no discussing it," states Robert Kendall. "It's the bottom line and he's going to be released."
"I knew it would happen someday. I thought it would be a few more years down the road, but I knew it would happen some day and I think if he comes back to Warrick County, it will be trouble," says Lisa Sims.
According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, Terry Avery is being released early for good time and completing educational and substance abuse programs.
"Just because a person goes and gets their high school diploma and a degree from a university, does that change really in their mind what they are?" questions Brian Kendall.
"That's a decision the state legislature made, for whatever reason, for overcrowding of prisons or whatever," says Gibson County prosecutor Robert Krieg. "My personal belief is, although I understand that they have an overcrowding problem, if they want to have incentives for prisoners to be on model behavior and improve themselves. With that being said, I think murder should be a separate issue."
But Krieg has no say, and neither does the family. "If you don't think that's the right thing, which is my personal opinion that it's not to give this type of credit for murderers, there is an avenue to take. And that's to contact your state legislators and ask them to reconsider this type of credit for people involved in these types of crimes."
"State legislators you mentioned, and one of them is his brother," says Stefanie Silvey.
"That's what I'm told," responds Krieg. "I don't personally know Mr. Avery very well, but I'm told that's the case, yes."
Dennis Avery is Terry Avery's half brother. He's also been a state lawmaker since 1974. That concerns the Kendall family regarding Terry Avery's early release.
"I think it's his brother Dennis Avery, I really do," says Ronnie Kendall. "Because you shoot a man four times in the back and then go and shoot him in the head, they'd probably give us life, and Dennis Avery he's been a representative for years, and he has a lot of pull."
Both Indiana State Police investigators and Lisa Sims say when Terry Avery turned himself in after shooting Jack Kendall, he turned to his half brother.
"While we were sitting in Dennis' driveway, waiting for the cop to get there and take us to Boonville, Dennis stuck his head in the car and said don't let them find the gun," says Lisa Sims.
Stefanie Silvey contacted Dennis Avery, and he adamantly denies Sims allegations. Initially telling Silvey he never mentioned a gun, but later he called Silvey back saying because it was so long ago he had forgotten a conversation he had with Terry asking him if he was armed. Avery says he was concerned for everyone's safety, nothing more.
And there's nothing to indicate Representative Avery did anything out of the ordinary like writing letters of recommendation or making phone calls on Terry Avery's behalf. However, he is among Indiana lawmakers who voted in favor and passed programs that now benefit his half brother.
Terry Avery seems to know that legislation well, using it to his advantage. In August he wrote to the Gibson County Court Clerk requesting documentation and citing the legislation recently passed to support that request.
"And then they are going to bring him back to the area and rub salt in the wound, by bringing him back here," says Brian Kendall. "And they say the reason they are bringing him back here is to let him rehabilitate with his family."