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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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