Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Friends believe jealousy behind New Albany murder-suicide

Victim’s car, house recently vandalized, roommate ‘stalked’


NEW ALBANY — Just hours before being fatally shot on Friday, 27-year-old Clayton Wrege, of New Albany, posted a message on Facebook that he intended to seek a restraining order against the man who investigators believe later killed him in an apparent murder-suicide.
Wrege believed Hugh Bellis-Jones, 25, of Louisville, had vandalized his vehicle and home and had been stalking his roommate.
The bodies of Wrege and Bellis-Jones were found just before 5 p.m. in the front yard of 108 Greendale Dr. in New Albany, where Wrege lived with Bellis-Jones’ ex-girlfriend. According to Floyd County Coroner Dr. Leslie Knable, Wrege was shot multiple times before Bellis-Jones turned the gun on himself.
New Albany Police Department officers were called to the scene originally for a domestic dispute but then learned shots were fired.
Police are still not releasing many details of the investigation, but several messages posted by Wrege on the popular social networking website Facebook offer clues as to a possible motive.
Wrege wrote on May 17 that someone slit his tire and keyed his Jeep while it was in his driveway. He then wrote on May 25 that someone keyed and slit all the tires to the car belonging to his roommate, Bellis-Jones’ ex-girlfriend. He said his house was also covered in paint.
Wrege, still not knowing who was the culprit, asked if anyone had information about the crime. By Friday, the day of the shooting, Wrege believed he knew who was responsible.
“I just had the police called on me because someone can't get over my roomate not wanting him anymore! GROW UP DUDE LEAVE ME AND MY THINGS ALONE!!” he wrote shortly after 2 p.m.
He wrote that Bellis-Jones was “border line stalking” her and asked if anyone had seen the film “Fatal Attraction” in which a man and his family are stalked by an ex-lover.
A friend commented that Wrege should request a restraining order, and Wrege responds that he believes that will be the next step.
Kirk Sowders, 30, of New Albany, said he was part of a tight group of friends that included Wrege.
“He’s a stand-up guy, very nice, very outgoing, will do anything for anybody,” said Kirk Sowders. “He was the life of the party all the time, always cool with everybody.”
Sowders said Wrege and his friends did not even really know Bellis-Jones. They are still in shock.
The group of friends went on a snowboarding trip in January. After that trip, Wrege offered to let Bellis-Jones’ ex-girlfriend move into his house.
“All this stuff just started escalating,” Sowders said.
He said, that just a day or two before the shooting, Bellis-Jones called his ex-girlfriend’s parents in Texas and told them lies about Wrege so that they would travel to New Albany to check on their daughter. He said they were at Wrege’s house when Bellis-Jones showed up and started waiving a gun.
“He was just jealous. Clay and (his roommate) weren’t even dating or anything,” Sowders said. “I think (Bellis-Jones) was on Facebook probably seeing pictures of them hanging out and probably took it the wrong way. People can put things together in their head and make believe whatever they want.”
NAPD Capt. Keith Whitlow said detectives are aware of the Facebook postings. He said that only the May 17 incident was reported to police.
“I don’t know how many times his property was vandalized,” Whitlow said. “There were multiple incidents they attributed to Jones, but the only one reported (to police) was a car vandalism on May 17.”
Whitlow said they are not seeking any other suspects in the shooting, but he said the investigation is ongoing. He says a report will be released, but it may not be for a while.
The funeral for Wrege was held on Tuesday at St. Mark’s Church of Christ, and a benefit concert was held at MYbar in New Albany following the service. Half the proceeds went to Locks of Love, Sowders said.
“It’s still hard to believe it’s even real,” Sowders said. “If you knew him, you were friends for life.”

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