Indiana Man Who Murdered His Parents Claimed They Had Suicide Pact

“I never would have in a million years thought that he would have ever done anything like this,” says the convicted killer’s aunt.

Scott Hartman, pictured here, was convicted of murdering both his parents.

A couple was found dead in their rural Indiana home. Why would their only child, who they both doted on, have killed them in a savage attack he later claimed was a suicide pact?

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "American Monster")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "American Monster")

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A couple was found dead in their rural Indiana home. Why would their only child, who they both doted on, have killed them in a savage attack he later claimed was a suicide pact?

Growing up, Scott Hartman could do no wrong in the eyes of his parents, Brian and Cheri Hartman. “Scott was the center of Brian and Cheri’s world,” recalls Brian’s sister, Lisa Gougill.

She explains her brother was the disciplinarian in his family, while his wife was more the loving type who didn’t want to see her son get in trouble.

As a result, family says, Scott at times didn’t see eye to eye with his father, so he joined the Army as a way for him to get out from under his thumb.

In the summer of 1996, Scott met a woman named Angel, and they married the following year. Scott then left the Army, and he and a pregnant Angel moved back to Indiana, where the couple welcomed a daughter, Carolyn, on March 26, 1998.

Angel says she began to grow concerned about how Scott would discipline their baby girl, and her worries only intensified when her husband turned to drugs.

“His personality changed on such a drastic level,” notes Scott’s paternal aunt, Barbara Baumgartner, of the substance abuse.

In June 1999, Scott and Angel welcomed a second child, a son they named Brian. “He’s a proud papa, but at the same time, I’m sure he was overwhelmed,” Baumgartner says.

While Scott may have been struggling, his parents, Brian and Cheryl, were overjoyed at becoming grandparents for the second time. But like their daughter-in-law, they were worried about Scott’s drug use.

Scott became more controlling of Angel as time passed. “I started having fear of him then, so I wanted a divorce,” she says.

After the pair split, Scott moved in with his parents, who helped him take care of his two young children, and he appeared to clean up his life while working for his father’s construction company. Scott was awarded full custody of his son and daughter in 2007.

As they grew up, Scott’s children witnessed their dad slide back into his old ways. “I seen him a couple times taking drugs,” Brian says. “His whole attitude changed after he would go snort a pill or take one. He seemed more relaxed but really easily irritated at the same time.”

According to Carolyn, her father may have started abusing prescription medicine because he had no other way to deal with the pain he suffered from his physically demanding job.

As Scott’s addiction spiraled, Carolyn says he became increasingly aggressive: “He was not the same person at that point.”

On Feb. 12, 2010, the situation came to a terrible conclusion and Brian and Cheri Hartman’s world imploded. Shortly after 11 that evening, Scott phoned police to report his mother, who had recently gone into remission from brain cancer, “was foaming at the mouth” and unable to breathe.

Responding emergency medical technicians rushed Cheri to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. According to Randolph County District Attorney David Daly, the coroner initially ruled the cause of Cheri’s death to be respiratory failure attributable to her cancer battle.

After Cheri died, Scott claimed to family that his father had told him he’d be back, and then left him with his checkbook to plan his mother’s funeral. “We knew that there’s no way,” says Gougill of her nephew’s story. “Brian was not going to leave at the time his wife passed.”

She adds she and family were shocked to learn Scott had his mother’s body cremated.

On Feb. 20, 2010, the day of Cheri’s funeral, Scott failed to show up to the service. According to District Attorney Daly, just after 2 p.m., neighbors of Brian and Cheri’s reported Scott was trying to break into their home.

Scott, who appeared under the influence, was arrested nearby and transported to the Randolph County jail, where he was booked on a burglary charge.

When investigators later interviewed Scott, they confronted him with the fact he told them during his jail intake that his father was deceased. Scott claimed he didn’t remember and “didn’t really have a good explanation for why he had said that,” Daly says.

After obtaining a search warrant for the Hartman home, investigators found blood spatter on the walls as well as blood stains and drag marks from the bedroom to the garage, where the trail stopped. In a black plastic toolbox, they found Brian’s body wrapped in tarps.

After the grisly discovery, Scott alleged his family had formed a suicide pact, and he claimed his father asked him to be killed before Cheri. “I go in and Mom is not doing good,” Scott says in a video interview recorded by police. “I sit her up and help take her to the kitchen table, get all her medicines out.”

Scott then alleges his mother told him to “go take care of your dad” and she “just begged” when he “couldn’t do it.”

Prosecutor Daly, however, believes Scott “was trying to convince the detectives that he was a reluctant participant in their plan, and that he was almost doing his mom a favor, or it was at her coercion that he killed his father.”

An autopsy showed Brian was fatally shot in the back of the head with a 12-gauge shotgun. Cheri’s death was unable to be determined due to her remains being cremated.

The investigation determined Scott had filled prescriptions belonging to his mother after her death. He also had written a check from his father to himself for $2,000. Police determined the motive for Scott killing his parents was to feed his addiction to drugs.

Scott, now 47, was convicted in 2013 of killing Brian and Cheri Hartman and sentenced to 120 years in prison.

“I never would have in a million years thought that he would have ever done anything like this,” Baumgartner says of her nephew. “He’s where he should be because he’s a danger to society.”

Scott’s son, Brian, adds: “He just messed up his mind on them drugs and it made him a monster.”

For more on this case, stream American Monster: “Breathe for Me Mom” on Max.

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