Sheridan Murder Victim Was Suspected Killer's Mom, Coroner Confirms

The Sheridan County coroner on Thursday said the 22-year-old suspected of killing 64-year-old Leonila Melvin is the victim’s son who was already in jail on drug charges when his mother’s body was discovered.

Clair McFarland

January 11, 20243 min read

Israel Melvin
Israel Melvin (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The man suspected of killing a 64-year-old woman over the weekend in Sheridan was the woman’s son, the Sheridan County coroner has confirmed.

Leonila Melvin, 64, was found dead in her home on Gladstone Street on Sunday evening of apparent blunt-force trauma, Coroner Dr. Robert Byrd told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

Police announced Melvin’s death Monday, but Byrd spoke with Melvin’s family before revealing her name publicly.

Byrd also confirmed that Leonila Melvin is the mother of the murder suspect in this case, 22-year-old Israel Melvin.

Israel Melvin now faces a second-degree murder charge in Sheridan Circuit Court. If he is convicted of that crime, he will face between 20 years and life in prison.

In A Cloud

But Israel Melvin was already in police custody by the time police found his mother’s body. He’d been arrested about 11 a.m. Sunday, after a concerned caller reported him that morning for lying in a road, walking in circles and stumbling around by the Burger Wagon, according to an evidentiary affidavit filed Monday in Sheridan Circuit Court.

When Sheridan Police Department Officer Aaron Bass arrived, he found Israel Melvin shoeless and shirtless in a Wendy’s bathroom, pacing in a cloud of what looked like marijuana smoke, the affidavit says.

On ‘Venom’

Melvin was reportedly narrating his own movements out loud, talking about moving his arms as he was detained. He asked if he was “in heaven,” the affidavit relates.

Officers asked him what he took.

He’d taken a lot of “venom,” Melvin reportedly answered.

The affidavit says police found several rolled joints labelled as Delta 8 or Delta 9, a cannabinoid variation that can come in legal forms.

Bass asked for emergency medical personnel to come to the scene. They did, and found Melvin’s heart rate unusually elevated and he complained that he was hot, the document says.

Medical workers told police to take Melvin to the emergency room, and they did.

Bass noticed marks on Melvin’s inner elbow joints that looked like “fresh track marks” from injecting drugs, the officer later wrote.

While at the hospital, Melvin allegedly exhibited “hypersexual” behavior along with cotton mouth symptoms. Bass took these as more signs of marijuana use. The affidavit says Melvin has a history of using methamphetamine and marijuana together.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter