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Dad Had Insurance Policy on Son

July 3, 1999

FRANKLIN, Ind. (AP) _ Despite a report that he took out a six-figure life insurance policy on his young son, Ronald Shanabarger was still likely motivated by revenge in allegedly killing the boy, police said.

According to authorities, Shanabarger, 30, has confessed to smothering his infant son to get back at his wife, Amy, over a grudge that began before they were married.

But in a story published Saturday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported another possible motive: The suspect had taken out a policy worth $100,000 and was spending the money ``in his head″ after the death of the 7-month-old boy, Tyler. The paper quoted Wendy Heim, described as a close friend of the family.

Franklin Police Chief Harry Furrer told the newspaper that investigators know about the policy, but he declined to confirm its dollar amount.

He also said police still believe Shanabarger was motivated by revenge, not money.

Shanabarger told police several times _ including at least two tape-recorded interviews _ that he planned the crime to punish his wife for not cutting short a cruise vacation with her parents after his father died in October 1996.

Mrs. Shanabarger, 29, wouldn’t discuss the case with the newspaper. She has left the couple’s home in Franklin, an Indianapolis suburb, and is living with her parents in Martinsville.

But Heim told the Kentucky newspaper that Mrs. Shanabarger told her and family members about the insurance policy, that she put its value at $100,000, and discussed what her husband said about the money.

``He told her he already had $50,000 of it spent in his head,″ Heim said. She said the policy was valued at $100,000, but that she didn’t know when Shanabarger bought it.

Mrs. Shanabarger said her husband wanted to spend the money and asked her if they could continue their marriage without the boy, Heim said.

The newspaper also reported that Shanabarger refused to accompany his wife to the hospital when she gave birth last November and that he repeatedly complained she spent too much money on toys.

Shanabarger, through public defender Richard Tandy, declined to be interviewed.

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