Evansville Police arrested 51 year old DEBRA WOLLNER today for her role in the beating of a man who falsely told police he was involved in the disappearance of Aleah Beckerle.
The victim, 41 year old James Martin, reportedly told police he was held against his will by at least two people for several hours on July 21st. During his confinement at an address in the 1100 block of N 3rd, Martin said WOLLNER repeatedly hit him with a metal pipe and that an unknown woman assaulted him with her hands and feet. Martin was told to “tell the truth” about Aleah’s disappearance. Martin agreed to lie to police in order to get the beating to stop. Martin was then driven to 403 E Iowa.
According to EPD, someone in the home called 911 and said Martin was ready to confess his involvement in Aleah’s disappearance. Police arrived and heard WOLLNER, who is in a relationship with a family member of Aleah Beckerle , say “now tell them what you told me”. Police took Martin to headquarters to be interviewed.
During the interview, Police report Martin made statements implicating himself, but the investigators quickly believed he was not giving the statement of his own free will. Police then learned of the beating and observed several injuries constant with his version of events. Investigators do not believed Martin had any involvement in the disappearance of Aleah Beckerle and that his statements were being made out of fear of further violence against him.
On July 30th, police say they were contacted by a person who had knowledge of the incident and also provided police with a video of the victim. In the video, the victim is seen bleeding from the head. A female voice is heard demanding information about Aleah. Later in the video, an unknown male voice is off camera talking to Martin about lying about who beat him.
Martin reportedly identified WOLLNER as the woman who was involved in the confinement and beating. She is being held in the Vanderburgh County Jail on the following charges:
Battery with a Deadly Weapon L3 Felony
Co! nspiracy to Commit Battery with a Deadly Weapon L5 Felony
Criminal Confinement L3 Felony (3 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Confinement L3 Felony (3 counts)
The time and resources required to investigate this series of events took away from the efforts to find Aleah. Anyone who has any reason to believe someone they know may be involved in Aleah’s disappearance is asked to call police. Do not attempt to gather information on your own. Police are still investigating the beating and working to identify additional suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call EPD at 1-812-436-7979 or WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME.