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The Rape & Murder of Kelly Eckart

If you live in Indiana, you probably know the story of Kelly Eckart. If you do not, you won’t want to miss why Overstreet’s children changed their last name. Kelly Eckart was only 18 years old at the time of her murder. Eckart was a freshman student who was attending Franklin College. Along with being a full-time student at Franklin College, Eckart was also working at a local Walmart part-time as well. 

Then after work on the evening of September 27, 1997, she met up with her boyfriend for a moment before driving on home to her residence in Shelby County. This meeting would be the last time anyone saw Kelly alive. 

The very next morning on September 28, 1997, Eckart’s car would be discovered abandoned in a rural area. Eckart’s car would still have the keys in the ignition and the lights on. 

Just four days after her car was found Kelly Eckart would be found naked in a ravine located in Brown County. Eckart was strangled with her very own shoelace along with a strap cut directly from her suspenders on her overalls. 

Eckart was also shot in the forehead once as well. There was semen inside Eckart as well, which was then ultimately matched to be the semen of Michael Overstreet. 

Michael Overstreet’s brother would be the first person to contact the local police and admit that his brother, Michael called him up on September 27, 1997, to tell him to meet him at a local hotel. His brother would state that he needed to drive his van, so he can transport a girl and himself to a wooded rural area within the county.

Michael’s brother would oblige. Michael’s brother would drive them out to the wooded area where he would drop off the body and Michael. Michael would then come back to this area and transport Kelly Eckart to another area in Brown County before she was found. 

There were many fibers that were discovered on Kelly Eckart’s body that were a direct match for the fibers in Michael’s brother van. Which they had spent a long-time cleaning prior to the local authorities discovering Kelly’s nude body. 

There was even an eyewitness that could identify Michael near the site on that very day when the body was finally found. 

Mitigating Circumstances

Michael Overstreet had an abusive childhood growing up. Even as a child, Michael Overstreet would suffer from hallucinations. Most of these hallucinations would consist of demons. 

Michael Overstreet would also be diagnosed with Psychological deterioration and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. 

Michael Overstreet’s mother would not give him the mental help he needs. As Michael became of age, he would sign up for the United States Marines. 

Michael would only last 3 months in the Marines before the service would discharge him for his mental illness. 

Michael loves his children. Michael even have nieces who idolize him daily. However, Michael up until this point only had misdemeanor charges on his criminal history report. However, while he was incarcerated, he was a model prisoner as well. 

The Death of Kelly Eckart

Franklin College student, Kelly Eckart would leave her job at the local Walmart on September 26, 1997, to head home to her Boggstown residence. 

Just the next day, her car would be found abandoned in between the Walmart she worked at and her Boggstown residence and there would be no sign of Kelly Eckart. 

Kelly Eckart’s body would not be located until September 30, 1997. When she was found, she was naked, and it appeared she strangled and even raped. Eckart’s body was in a ravine in Brown County. 

It was not until November 6, 1997, when the local police started talking to Michael Dean Overstreet. Currently, Michael Overstreet was the local police main suspect in the murder of Kelly Eckart. It was not until 4 days later November 10, 1997 when charges were finally filed against Michael. 

Over the days, the local police would receive hundreds upon hundreds of tips regarding Michael Overstreet. It was not until they finally received a tip from Michael’s brother, Scott Overstreet. Scott Overstreet was the local police’s big break. 

Scott Overstreet would tell the local police how he met Michael early in the day on September 27, 1997, and Michael would tell Scott how he grabbed up this girl. Then the two would drive out to the Camp Atterbury where Scott would then leave Michael alone with the girl. 

You could see a few of Eckart’s personal belongings in this location. 

Lance Hamner, Johnson County Prosecutor wanted to seek out the death penalty in the case against Michael Overstreet when the DNA testing came back. The charges that Michael Overstreet were facing including felony murder, confinement, rape, and criminal deviate conduct. 

Then on January 5, 2000, Michael’s four children would ask the judge if they can change their last name due to not wanting to be associated with their father anymore. They wanted to change their last name legally to their mother’s maiden name. 

Originally this request would be denied since Overstreet has yet to be tried or convicted of the charges at hand. However, after their father’s trial was completely over, the judge sided with them. The judge stated that the right of their mother will outweigh the opinions of their incarcerated father and ultimately granted their name change request. 

Michael’s trial did not start until May 1, 2000. His trial was stationed in Johnson County. Michael’s defense team would ask the judge to change their venue, but this request was ultimately denied. However, the jury team was chosen in Clark county to sit in on the case. 

It was not until nearly 2 weeks later when on May 13 when the jurors found Michael guilty on all counts. Then on May 18, the jurors recommended the death penalty. 

Then on July 31 Cynthia S. Emkes, Johnson Superior Court Judge agreed with the recommendation and sentenced him to death.