Santrina Echols, 42, charged in the 2013 death of Clester Sims of Gary.
Updated: September 2, 2014 6:28AM
GARY — More than a year after Clester Sims was found dead at his Tolleston home, his live-in girlfriend, Santrina Echols, 42, has been charged with murder.
Sims, 37, was found face down on his bed with a phone cord nearby July 13, 2013. Echols admitted to police she choked him with the cord during an argument because he was involved with another woman, court records state.
The couple had a long history of domestic violence, police said.
Police arrested Echols at the scene, but charges were delayed because the Lake County coroner initially ruled Sims’ manner of death was undetermined. After a second pathologist reviewed the case, it was ruled a homicide on July 24, the probable cause affidavit states.
Echols is not in custody and is believed to have left the state, police said.
When the first officers arrived at 1418 W. 16th Ave. that Saturday morning, Chief Wade Ingram was there with Echols, her father and her pastor, the affidavit states.
Sims was lifeless on his bed and investigators found no signs of forced entry.
Upon questioning, Echols said, “She just couldn’t take it any more,” and “grabbed the phone cord that was lying on the bed and wrapped it around his neck and pulled with all her strength until she couldn’t feel any more life in his body,” the probable cause affidavit states.
Later that morning, Echols sent texts to her sister saying, “I killed him!” and claimed she and a cousin were going to dump the body. But her sister called their father, who arrived at the scene and called police.
Echols’ sister told Detective Cpl. Michael Barnes that when they were at their mother’s house, Echols said, “I can’t believe it took that (expletive) 20 minutes to die! I was getting blood clots on my hands,” and noted Echols showed no remorse, the affidavit states.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Echols.
She will be held without bail when she is apprehended.