Greenwood Police: Good instincts lead to Indy murder arrest

A Greenwood police officer’s “good instincts” led to the arrest of a man wanted for murder in Marion County, police say.

Christopher Rawlings, 26, of Indianapolis, was arrested for refusal to identify, giving a false identity statement and an out-of-county warrant for murder, on Tuesday.

Greenwood police responded to a report of a disturbance at a towing company on the 1700 block of U.S. 31 South around 4:47 p.m. Tuesday. When Officer Patrick Hersman arrived, he saw officers speaking with a female driver of a vehicle. A man who was sitting in the passenger seat, later identified as Rawlings, was hunched over and kept looking back at officers, according to a Greenwood Police Department report.

Hersman spoke with the man and asked for his name. Rawlings allegedly said his name was “Jose Garscea,” before allegedly reentering the car and smoking a cigarette, according to the report.

After a short while, the man allegedly threw the cigarette onto the ground. The officer then called the man over and told him he needed more information in order to write a ticket for littering. When the man gave the officer his last name, he allegedly spelled it multiple times, appearing to hesitate and think between each letter, the report says.

Hersman attempted to search for the name through the state’s databases, but no results appeared. The man then allegedly told the officer he had an ID card from Nebraska, not Indiana. A second search by Johnson County dispatchers using a Nebraska ID card also found no results, the report says.

The officer spoke with the man again and warned him about the consequences of lying about his identity before asking for his name again. The man allegedly said he had already gave the officer his name, which was “Jose Garscea,” according to the report.

Hersman contacted the Nebraska State Patrol and asked them to search the man’s name in their system. Nebraska officials said they had not issued an ID card with the name and date of birth the man provided, and had no ID cards with the spelling of “Garscea,” the report says.

The officer then told the man he was being arrested as a John Doe. During a search of the man, Hersman found two .410 gauge shotgun shells and five full metal jacket bullets, 9 mm bullets, according to the report.

The man was then taken to the Johnson County jail. Hersman was later told by jail staff that the man had allegedly told them his real name, which was Christopher Rawlings. This was later confirmed through fingerprints, the report says.

A criminal records search was also completed which showed Rawlings was wanted for murder in Marion County, the report says. Additional information on the Marion County case was not immediately available, he was wanted in connection to a murder charge.

Greenwood Police Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth credits Hersman with having good instincts when it came to handling the disturbance call and the eventual arrest of Rawlings on the warrant. Hersman, a six-year veteran of the department, was happy to be in the right place at the right time and to have the training and ability to recognize that something was off, he said.

He doesn’t think he did anything extraordinary or spectacular, but was just doing his job, Hersman said.

“I was in the right position to see something out of place and I had an opportunity to act on infraction to force the issue and get his identity,” he said.

Rawlings is being held at the jail on the out-of-county warrant in lieu of a $4,000 bond.