INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis metro police call them evil and predatory: A group of young men who targeted an elderly and mentally disabled man and extorted tens of thousands of dollars from him.
Police say it began three years ago, when some of the suspects offered to shovel snow from the victim's driveway and realized that he was different and vulnerable.
"They would call him at all hours of the day and night, telling him, asking for money. He would out of fear, out of being scared; he would go and get the money," said IMPD Detective Kevin Lauerman.
Police said the victim has a college degree in business administration, but that a series of health setbacks have left him with mental disabilities.
Over one three-day period, Lauerman said one of the suspects, 23-year-old Andre Turner, extorted $1,000 from the victim to buy diapers and fund his daughter's birthday party at an Indianapolis restaurant.
"He's been doing this because he is fearful. They are relentless. They bother him. They harass him. They knock on his windows. They threaten to damage his house, his car," Lauerman said.
And no matter what time day, police said, when the suspects came knocking or calling, the victim would go to an ATM and withdraw the maximum amount possible from his life's savings.
The victim bags groceries at an Indianapolis area Kroger store where, on one day, he confided to his fellow employees that the men had forced their way into his house and robbed him.
Fearing for his safety, his fellow employees arranged to move the victim from his house to another location.
But the suspects came to his Kroger store and accosted him in the parking lot, according to police, intimidating him into moving back into his home.
In addition to Turner, IMPD has arrested 19-year-old Marquis Hathaway and 20-year-old Cameron Whorton for intimidation. Another man, 18-year-old Jeremy Whorton, used a handgun to back up threats of intimidation, according to police.
All told, investigators believe the four suspects may have extorted as much as $30,000 from their victim.
"I think it's just very evil. Instead of helping him shovel snow, they decided to pilfer his life savings," Lauerman said.
Police said the victim lacked the coping mechanisms to defend himself or to call police.
The investigation into the case remains ongoing.