Police arrest step-father for murder of S. Indiana girl


by Chase Cain


Posted on November 4, 2009 at 11:37 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 9 at 5:03 PM

WHAS11 has learned more about a how a Southern Indiana teenager died, and State Police say it was her step-father who killed her. News of his arrest came late this afternoon.

Typically at a press conferences it is just the press, but enough people have been affected by this brutal murder that a small crowd gathered outside the courthouse to hear the news.

We also talked to Alexis Oesterle's grandfather today and he said he was afraid something like this would happen.

A pack of TV cameras, police officers, and on-lookers gathered in downtown Rockport, Indiana as authorities announced an arrest in the murder of Alexis Oesterle.

Many in the crowd knew her well like her classmate Justine Hayes, "she was just one of those people you were glad to be around. And it's horrible that someone had the heart to... she was only 15. She didn't even get her driver’s license or get married or anything."

Indiana State Police charged Alexis's step-father with murder. Detectives believe 32 year-old Ryan Shelby cut the teenager's throat before leaving her body behind a shed in the family's backyard, claiming she was missing.

We were on the phone with Alexis's grandfather Jeff Spong as news broke of the arrest. He sighed when we shared the information, saying,  "That's the first I've heard."

Spong had just told us about abuse in the house of the young baby Ryan Shelby had with Alexis's mother Jessica. Jeff also says his granddaughter knew about it all. "Alexis was a beautiful person, and my daughter Jessica loved her so much. My daughter has gone through hell down there and no one wanted to help her."

Alexis's friends didn't know things were that serious with her step-father. But Sabrina Winkler saw Ryan Shelby when he and Alexis's mom stopped by her house after Alexis first went missing.

"I could tell he acted weird. Usually when I'm around him he comes up and talks to me and acts nice ,and he didn't come up to my house. He stood by the car the whole time. I just could tell he was acting weird," Sabrina told us.

Now she and a whole community don't know how to behave as they face reality. "It just seems like a nightmare I need to wake up from. She was my best friend," Sabrina remembered.

Alexis's grandfather says authorities told him Alexis had also been beaten in her face; though, her friends say they never saw any signs of previous abuse.

Prosecutors say it's too early to tell if this will be a capital murder case. Shelby will make his first court appearance Thursday morning.