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DOC Seeks Home For Man Convicted Of Murder In Bloomington

The man convicted in the 1986 murder of a Bloomington woman is set to be released from prison Saturday morning, but he does not have a place to live.

Robert E. Lee was supposed to be released from the Branchville Correctional Facility Thursday morning. According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Robert Lee must serve his parole in Bloomington. The DOC expected to place Lee at Backstreet Missions, a shelter that accepts criminals who have served their time in prison.

But Director of Backstreet Missions Linda Kelley recently informed the Indiana Department of Correction that Lee would not be allowed at her shelter. Kelley says the DOC’s parole division had recently contacted her and inquired as to whether the Backstreet Missions accepts convicted murderers but had no idea they were referring to Lee.

“They did not contact us letting us know they had a specific gentleman in mind, who he was or what was his offense,” she says. “And normally they do that for us.”

A jury convicted Lee in 1987 for the murder and dismemberment of Bloomington resident Ellen Marks. A judge sentenced him to 60 years in prison but after serving 25 years, Lee is being paroled after receiving credit for good behavior and for earning college degrees.

Kelley says the violent nature of Lee’s offense and the publicity that has surrounded his imminent release factored into her decision to not house him.

“We want to be able to find a place where people feel comfortable coming,” she says.

Indiana Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Garrison says Kelley’s decision has prompted the DOC to move back the release date to Saturday. However, Lee still falls into Bloomington’s parole jurisdiction and will still be required to live there. Garrison says that leaves the Department of Corrections reviewing its options.

“There are any number of halfway houses,” Garrison says. “There are also hotels that may take transient people that stay for a short period of time. We are looking at all of those potentials.”

Garrison says moving the release date to Saturday is the maximum extension the DOC can make.

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  • Bob Eckert

    “We want to be able to a place where people feel comfortable coming,” she says.

    Say what? Doesn’t the author of this important article care enough about accurate
    reporting to PROOFREAD the article before posting it?????
    The price you pay as a journalist is credibility not only for yourself
    but for the organization for which you write. Disgusting.

  • Lynn Long

    So if no one takes him, he will just be free to roam the streets, and hang out at the library, because thats’ where homeless people seem to come to.

  • Guest

    Well, I don’t feel comfortable in my place of residence because there is now a murderer on the lose. Can’t the mayor refuse him? if another country can refuse to get back it’s own person (like Mexico) when a citizen commits a crime, why can’t a city, our city?

  • Disgusted

    His sentence was 60 years! What I dont get is why he is getting out after serving less than half of his time!! What is wrong with our justice system? People like this should NEVER be released from prison. Who cares if you received college degrees and maintained good behavior in prison! What else is there to do? If someone like this was able to DISMEMBER a poor woman, he will for sure do it again. Why isnt the City of Bloomington denying him somehow! By allowing him to be released after barely serving his time, what kind of example is the DOC setting?

  • A.m. Harlow

    Calm down. It’s not the end of the world. Everything is going to be all right.

  • Anon

    He’s getting out because at the time, 60 years was the maximum sentence anyone could receive for murder without seeking the death penalty. Because of problems with the initial investigation, the prosecutor at the time didn’t feel comfortable seeking the death penalty. Lee is the reason why the laws were changed so that people could be sentenced to life without parole. So basically he’s getting out because life without parole didn’t exist at the time of his sentencing. His release also makes me nervous, but at least someone finally released a recent photo of him so we can all see what he looks like, unlike the HT.

  • Indy

    The Libs that live in Bloomington should take him in. They wanted him out so they should take care of him. Makes me sick knowing this guy is out of jail. The parents that have female students at I. U. should be aware that this guy is out and take precautions.

  • Indy

    Yea, it will be alright till he kills again.

  • A.m. Harlow

    The journalist who wrote this article is also a murderer? I had no idea.

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