Friends mourn musician killed in Woodruff Place murder

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Indianapolis - The man found dead in his home last week on Woodruff Place was a local musical director, Eyewitness News has learned. His murder last Thursday is seen as a major loss for the Indianapolis theater community.

John Austin Butsch's Facebook page is full of loving messages about his talents as a musician and as a friend.

"As a human being, John was extremely warm, kind friend. He'd give you the shirt off his back. A wonderful sense of humor. We'll miss him terribly," said Ellie Sellars, theatrical director.

Butsch, 59, was found dead in his home Friday. The coroner said he was hit in the head and asphyxiated. Police believe his former tenant, Allen Parker, committed the crime. Police say Parker confessed to the murder. Parker was arrested Saturday.

Butsch owned two homes along Woodruff Place. His niece tells Eyewitness news Parker was a troublesome tenant and had been evicted. Police believe Parker wanted revenge. They say he climbed in an upstairs window, attacked Butsch, then stole money and clothes.

The murder leaves friends and family stunned. Ellie Sellars worked with Butsch at a theater group in Lebanon.

"As an artist, he was one of the finest musicians I've ever known. Vocally, musically and certainly as a pianist, he was nothing short of genius. So his loss will be felt not only in the theatrical community, but certainly in the entire community," said Sellars.

Butsch directed shows at Theatre on the Square and American Cabaret Theatre. Some friends posted videos wanting to remember not how their friend died but how he lived his life and his legacy as an artist.

"I don't think there's a theater in town that he didn't help in some fashion," said Sellars. "This was a senseless, horrible, awful thing and we will miss him terribly."

Friends are still working on a memorial service.