Arrest made in east side taxi death

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Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The man suspected of killing a local cab driver had his driver's license suspended for life. He also had a lengthy criminal history.

Police made an arrest early Thursday morning in the death of Herbert "Chuck" Coomer. Coomer was found dead in the back seat of a cab on the city's east side  a day earlier.

IMPD Detective Sergeant Mark Prater arrested Kenneth Bartley for the murder of Herbert Coomer. IMPD identified Bartley as a person of interest in the investigation of the murder. 

Bartley, 47, was said to be driving a maroon '89 or '90 pick-up truck with a plywood sign in the back advertising firewood for sale.

A concerned taxi driver found blood on a co-worker's taxi and called police. Metro homicide detectives responded to the 6100 block of East 30th, finding a body in the backseat early Wednesday morning.

"[We] found a white male in the backseat with a great amount of trauma to the head and face," said Lt. Jeff Duhamell, IMPD.

An A and T Cab driver picked up a passenger at an East 10th Street bar around 1:30 Wednesday morning. The passenger gave a phony address near East 30th and Catherwood Avenue. The cab company never heard from the driver again.

Frank Somerville lives nearby. He says he witnessed two men wrestling in the driveway next door a few feet from the cab.

"One was holding the other one down and that's it. I was going to get cigarettes. The dude said, "Help," but he said it like they were playing and when I came back they were in the same situation, same spot," he said.

Now homicide detectives believe that same struggle may be tied to murder. Crime Lab workers put down several evidence markers. During the investigation, officers suddenly expanded the crime scene, putting up more police tape.

"Possible footprints that have blood on them and that's what we are looking at and that is why we expanded the crime scene here," said Lt. Duhammel.

Even after returning home and seeing the same to men struggling in the driveway, Frank Somerville never thought it would end with one of them dead. "I got daughters and kids who stay here," Somerville said.