Three arrested in Brittany Tate homicide

Brittany Tate
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Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Metro police have made a break in the case of a woman found dead in the White River.

Police have three suspects in custody in connection with the death of Brittany Tate, who was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

Metro police arrested 26-year-old Luther Bonds, who told police he was Tate's boyfriend, along with 24-year-olds Jerry Williams and Steven Brown.

Bonds and Williams had been arrested October 1st in an unrelated robbery case. Bonds told detectives that he, Williams, Brown and Tate were riding in a car together. According to Bonds, Jerry Williams was playing with a gun in the rear driver's side seat.

Tate, who rode in the front passenger seat, reportedly told Williams not to play with the gun. Words were exchanged and Williams pointed the gun at Tate's head and pulled the trigger.

"Made some comment to him about not playing with the gun. They exchanged some words, he pointed the gun at her head, telling her not to tell him what to do, basically, and ends up shooting her in the head," said IMPD Sgt. Matthew Mount.

According to police, the three men took the body to the White River and all three assisted in tossing her into the water. Fishermen found Tate's body north of 10th Street near the west bank of the river two weeks ago.

Brown and Bonds face charges of assisting a criminal, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of justice. Williams could be charged in the homicide and also abuse of a corpse.

Police say the ballistics of the gun found in Williams' possession when arrested on that charge on October 1st match the bullet recovered from Tate's body.

Tate's family and friends held a memorial service last week by the river near the location where her body was discovered. Tina Rethmeyer, Tate's mother, said that while her daughter had done time in prison for burglary, she was working hard to turn her life around. Rethmeyer wants those responsible for her daughter's death brought to justice.

"I just want to punish them to the fullest because they took a girl's life who didn't deserve to die," said Rethmeyer.

Accident or intentional, it's difficult for Lesa Chapman to comprehend.

"I can't absorb it. It hurts and I'm so mad. There's just so much anger coming through," Chapman said.

She says she was like a mother to Brittany and knew the men who were in the car, describing them as "friendly."

"They were all friends. That's another part of this that's so hard to absorb. I mean, they were old enough to understand and know what they were doing," Chapman said.

Chapman reported Brittany missing on October 3, the same day her body was discovered in the river.

"It's so senseless what happened. It's just senseless," she said. "There's no explanation, I'm sorry, there's not. Accident or not, that's just something you just don't do."

For those who cared about Brittany, it wasn't just the murder, but what happened afterwards that hurt them so much.

"They were so-called friends and that was so-called her boyfriend and he loved her and they cared about each other," Chapman said. "How could they just throw her away, like she was nothing?"