Bill Conn dies in prison

By John Estridge, Editor

Bill Conn died at the Plainfield Correctional Facility Saturday, Oct. 2.

According to reports, he was found dead in his cell by his cell mate.

An autopsy was performed to determine cause of death. Results were unavailable as of press time. No foul play is suspected.

The 69-year-old was being held at the Diagnostic Center on several hundred thousand dollars bail. Had he been able to make bail, a bond hearing would have been held in Franklin Circuit Court.

In November 2009, Conn, formerly of Lower Smokey Hollow Road, was moved from the Franklin County Security Center to the Plainfield facility due to safety concerns.

Although he had pleaded guilty to just one class A misdemeanor, Conversion, Conn was charged with 67 felonies including Conspiracy to Commit Murder.

"This is the biggest case I've ever worked and I've ever heard about," Lt. Ken Murphy of the State Excise Police said.

Murphy is part of the Franklin County Drug Task Force, which was instrumental in the investigation that led to the unparalleled amount of charges against Conn and his family members.

Bill Conn's son, Lloyd Conn, was convicted in July of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, as a class B felony; and Conspiracy to Commit Murder, as a class A felony. A charge of Conspiracy to Commit Arson was dismissed.

Bill Conn's daughter, Barbara Spurlock, has been convicted of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, as a class B felony; and she awaits trial on the Conspiracy to Commit Murder charge. She pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud charges.

Darlene Conn, Bill Conn's wife, faces Welfare Fraud charges, Possession of Stolen Property charges and Maintaining a Common Nuisance charges. All but the Welfare Fraud charges are class D felonies.

Lloyd Conn still faces charges of Intimidation of a Police Officer, Intimidation with a Deadly Weapon and Interfering with a Police Officer. All are class C felony charges.

Another son, Bill Conn Jr., is in a federal penitentiary serving time on gun charges.

A son-in-law, Walter Spurlock, pleaded guilty to Manufacturing Methamphetamine and is incarcerated in state prison. A grandson, Bill Conn III, is in an Ohio prison after pleading guilty to Manufacturing Methamphetamine in Butler County.

Bill Conn was in Franklin Circuit Court Wednesday, Sept. 29. He was there for an initial hearing. Franklin County Prosecutor Mel Wilhelm refiled the Conspiracy to Commit Murder charge to include an overt act.

In that hearing, Bill Conn pleaded not guilty.

Also, after meeting behind closed doors for a long time with his court-appointed attorney, Mark Jones of Batesville, Bill Conn withdrew motions for a speedy trial he had previously filed in all of his cases.

All of his major felony cases were then set to be heard on Jan. 10. Franklin Circuit Court Judge J. Steven Cox explained during the hearing the cases would be heard over a two-week span.

Conn was then taken from the courtroom and returned to Plainfield.

For the Conn family, things began to unravel in the Spring of 2009.

According to police reports and trial testimony, Lloyd Conn's live-in girlfriend, Tiffany Hollins, purchased too much Sudafed at a local pharmacy. Sudafed is an ingredient in meth.

Franklin County Probation Officer Paul Storm and some Indiana State Police officers made a visit to Hollins last reported address which was a home belonging to Bill Conn on Smokey Hollow Road.

Police found the makings for a meth lab. Subsequent search warrants revealed 500 pills, and a large quantity of goods stored on the property. Many of the goods were purported to be stolen.

A confidential informant then went to the home and allegedly purchased prescription pills from Bill Conn. After he was arrested on those charges, Bill allegedly conspired to have the confidential informant murdered.

Indiana Revenue agents levied $800,000 in tax warrants against Bill and Darlene Conn for sales and excise taxes.

A huge auction of the truckloads of goods confiscated in the raids was held this spring at the Franklin County Park, with proceeds from the auction going against the $800,000. People who could prove the items had been stolen from them were able to retrieve the items before the sale.

"This had more impact on the community and the hard working people than any other crime I've been involved with," Murphy said. "The things were stolen from garages and pickup trucks. A huge amount of legitimate people were impacted. Just think of a person who is trying to feed his family and he has his tools stolen out of the back of his pickup or from his garage, how is he going to finish the job he was hired to do?

"That's how people make their living (working with those tools)," he continued.

Murphy is a member of the Franklin County Drug Task Force, which was instrumental in the drug charges that were filed against Bill Conn.

"I feel bad for the family, but the county deserved a chance to try him, and he should have answered to the charges," Murphy said.