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An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer is accused of deleting messages on the cellphone of an 18-year-old woman who had just committed suicide — messages he had sent her earlier that day regarding their relationship that began through a youth policing program.
Officer Francisco Olmos, 31, was charged Thursday with obstruction of justice and computer trespass. A 10-year veteran of IMPD, Olmos has been suspended from duty and is being recommended for termination. Most recently, he had been a night shift officer on the east side.
Olmos was present at the woman’s northeast-side house when her father discovered her body on Nov. 2, 2015. According to a probable cause affidavit, Olmos told investigators he had gone there after growing concerned about her following a phone conversation with the woman earlier in the day and her failure to respond to subsequent calls and text messages. The Marion County coroner’s office ruled her death a suicide, the result of a single gunshot wound to the head.
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The arrest, two years after the woman’s death, was made possible after advances in forensic technology that enabled police to unlock her cellphone and recover deleted messages. Those messages contradicted the timeline Olmos described and also pointed to the woman’s involvement with another officer, Daniel Bullman.
The focus of the forensic investigation was the final hours of the woman’s life and the moments immediately after her death, a period when Olmos and Bullman peppered her with phone calls and Snapchat and other social media messages when they couldn’t reach her and, according to court documents, before Olmos erased their electronic footprints.
With interest in a career in law enforcement, the woman entered the IMPD Explorer Program when she was a 16-year-old student at Heritage Christian Academy.
IMPD Explorers, ranging in age from 14 to 20, assist officers with routine functions, such as directing traffic or helping at neighborhood events. About 10 to 20 people are involved in the program, an IMPD spokesman told IndyStar.
Full-time officers often help the Explorers learn the basics law enforcement, including how to write reports and conduct CPR. But it’s unusual for those officers to maintain personal connections outside of the program, such as sending numerous Snapchat messages, said Sgt. Chris Wilburn, IMPD spokesman.
Bullman led the program for IMPD, and Olmos helped.
Olmos told investigators he met the woman about 10 months prior to her death, according to the probable cause affidavit. Over the ensuing months, Olmos and the woman talked, texted and exchanged Snapchat messages almost every day — hundreds of messages over several months. The woman also began doing ride-alongs in Olmos’ patrol car. Outside of police work, they would meet at Fort Harrison State Park to exercise. Olmos knew the woman well and cared about her, he told investigators.
But Olmos said they were not intimate.
Efforts by IndyStar to reach Olmos for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
On the day of her death, phone records indicate that Olmos and the woman had three phone calls, the longest lasting an hour.
Olmos told investigators he spoke with the woman by phone about 1 p.m. He said she told him what a “great officer” he was, that she couldn’t talk to him anymore, that “it’s not your fault” and that she loved him.
He told investigators she had not said that before, which further prompted his concerns. “I’m like something’s wrong,” he said, “because this is just unlike her. … I absolutely cared about her. Her death hurts.”
What she was specifically referring to regarding not his fault was unclear in the court document.
After she hung up, Olmos said, he tried to call her back several times but assumed she had gone to sleep.
Later, he told investigators, the conversation weighed on him, and he grew concerned about her welfare. He went to her house.
Olmos said he arrived about the same time as the woman’s father — around 4:30 p.m. When the father went inside to look for his daughter, he found her dead in her bedroom, music still playing on her phone. He called Olmos in for help, and he turned off the music on the phone.
Then, using the woman’s phone, Olmos called Bullman, who arrived to the scene. Why he was called, and whether he provided investigative support, is unclear.
Investigators who arrived later to pick through the scene found the woman’s cellphone not only silenced but also password protected.
“I was able to just call from it, so if there was (a password) I don’t know,” Olmos told investigators.
Family members said the phone did not use a password. Several failed attempts by investigators and the family to guess the correct password later locked the phone.
Repeated efforts by IMPD forensics experts to gain access to the phone over the course of nearly 18 months failed until this summer when technology advanced enough that investigators could gain entry. They not only gained access but were able to uncover messages that had been deleted.
What they found contradicted Olmos’ account of the afternoon.
According to court records, phone data showed the woman tried to contact Olmos at 12:51 p.m. through a Facetime video call that Olmos did not answer. But over the next 3 1/2 hours, Olmos attempted to call the woman 16 times and send her 12 other data messages, none of them returned. During that time, the data showed, Bullman sent the woman 16 Snapchat messages.
Olmos’ text messages read as plaintive, almost desperate: “Please don’t do this to me. Don’t go over there … Why are you doing this to me. Please don’t go over there.” And, “Answer me you can’t do this to me AGAIN. I’m going to your house.”
In a message sent at 1:39 p.m., three hours before the woman’s body is discovered, Olmos wrote: “I’m outside your house.”
The data recovery revealed that the woman’s phone was unlocked at 4:40 p.m., shortly after her body was discovered. In a matter of seven minutes, several messages had been deleted and a phone call had been made to Bullman. By 4:47 the phone was locked and inaccessible — until this summer.
Olmos declined to allow IMPD investigators to examine his own phone when asked, court records said.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Olmos’ arrest on the felony obstruction of justice charge means his office will have to review whether there is any evidence that Olmos tampered with in other cases. If any evidence is found, charges may need to be dismissed in those cases.
Bullman, 34, faces no charges stemming from the phone tampering that landed Olmos in trouble. But another case he was involved in bore a connection to the woman’s death.
Bullman faces 13 charges — including neglect of a dependent, kidnapping and battery resulting in bodily injury — in a criminal case that arose in May 2016, seven months after her death.
In that case, Bullman was arrested after his now ex-wife detailed a string of violent encounters, including one where he was accused of pointing his gun at the heads of his young child and ex-wife. He also is accused of punching her, pushing her and dragging her across the room by the hair.
His ex-wife told investigators Bullman was “involved with” another woman in November 2015, according to court records in that case. That woman, court records said, was the IMPD Explorer who killed herself. Following the teen’s death, Bullman’s ex-wife said he became “erratic and delusional.”
Bullman’s attorney, Ralph Staples, told IndyStar that the ex-wife’s claims about any relationship between Bullman and the IMPD Explorer are unfounded.
“There is no connection between the young lady, Bullman’s ex-wife or Bullman,” Staples said.
Bullman was suspended without pay in regards to the charges he faces and recommended for termination.
IndyStar requested the personnel files of officers Olmos and Bullman, but IMPD had not provided them by Thursday evening.
IndyStar reporter Holly Hays contributed to this article.
Call Robert King at (317) 444-6089. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Call IndyStar reporter Ryan Martin at (317) 444-6294. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @ryanmartin.
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