Brian Scott Hartman Now: From Loving Son to Convicted Murderer

Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Monster: Breathe for Me Mom’ chronicles one of the most bizarre murder cases in Indiana’s history. Brian Scott Hartman called 911 to claim his mother, a cancer patient, was unresponsive inside their rural Williamsburg, Indiana, home in mid-February 2010. She was declared dead, and the police eventually also stumbled upon his father’s body around a fortnight later. It leaves the viewers wondering why and how Brian killed his parents and about his current whereabouts.

Who Is Brian Scott Hartman?

Brian Scott Hartman resided in a converted pole barn on his family property at 9703 South 425 West in rural Williamsburg, Indiana, along with his two children. His parents, Brian Ellis and Cheri Ann, occupied a separate dwelling on the same property. His mother, Cheri, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008, accompanied by COPD, emphysema, and lumbar stenosis. Despite her stabilized condition by February 3, 2010, Cheri continued to manage her pain through prescribed medications, including OxyContin and Hydrocodone.

In a distressing 911 call on the night of February 12, 2010, Brian reported her mother was foaming at the mouth and struggling to breathe. The emergency medical technicians rushed to the scene to find Cheri unresponsive and without a pulse. They rushed her to a hospital, where she was declared dead despite the medical team’s best efforts. Police sources claimed her official cause of death was documented as respiratory failure. Due to her fragile health and chronic illness, the police had no grounds to suspect foul play.

Remarkably, Brian did not accompany his mother to the hospital, instead informing his children about their grandmother’s demise. He met with a funeral home director the following morning to arrange for Cheri’s cremation, asserting it was following her wishes. However, the funeral home informed Brian that they required the deceased woman’s husband’s authorization to conduct the cremation. Urging that he was uncertain when his father would return, Brian led him to be granted authorization instead.

Court documents stated Brian had also contacted his aunt, Barbara Baumgartner, to relay Cheri’s demise, concurrently asserting that his father had left town. When Barbara and family friend Charlie Ogden inquired about Ellis’ whereabouts, he supplied them with inconsistent replies. The relatives later told the police that Stephen told them varying answers, ranging from his father leaving in a red truck to being picked up by a friend in a white vehicle or taking a taxi. Cheri was subsequently cremated on February 20.

However, suspicions thickened when neither Hartmans, including Ellis, attended the funeral services. Concerned about Ellis, Barbara arranged a welfare check with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department on February 21. A cursory search yielded no results, prompting Barbara to conduct a more thorough examination on February 22. She and other family members found Ellis’ belongings, including his boots, hat, watch, and jacket. They also located the missing man’s wallet and driver’s license inside his son’s coat pockets.

The family proceeded to the garage and found a large box in the space where Cheri’s vehicle was usually parked. They also discovered a cleaning bucket and numerous garbage bags. Meanwhile, the Hartmans’ neighbors — Matt Pearson and Sarah Golliier — spotted Brian breaking into their home during Cheri’s funeral at 2:16 pm on February 20. They asserted Brian had previously visited several times in an attempt to acquire medications from Sarah’s father. When he turned down Brian’s request, the two engaged in a heated argument and confrontation.

Brian was arrested on burglary charges stemming from the February 20 incident. When the police interviewed him regarding Ellis’ whereabouts, Brian maintained his initial story — his father had left on February 11 with a friend. However, when questioned about Ellis leaving without keys, wallet, or money, the son asserted that his father had taken $10,000 in cash and left him the checkbook and credit cards to cover Cheri’s funeral expenses. Brian lawyered up when asked why Ellis supposedly left funeral money on February 11, a day before her demise.

Where Is Brian Scott Hartman Now?

Barbara called the police on February 23 to report what she and the other family members had found inside the residence. The officers immediately obtained a search warrant for the Hartman property. The forensics team soon discovered red stains throughout the master bedroom, including headboards, walls, ceiling, and a mattress. They also noticed “drag marks” leading to the garage, which revealed a blood trail passing beer crates to gravel near a black box. When the authorities pried open the box, they found Ellis’ body tightly wrapped in a tarp.

Brian eventually confessed to the police at 1:00 am on February 24 after being informed about the various pieces of incriminating evidence inside the residence. The officers had also learned about his drug use from his minor daughter, who alleged witnessing him snorting and taking pills. They even found Brian had continued consuming Cheri’s OxyContin, even filling her prescription once on February 17, four days after her death. Records showed he had been previously convicted in Wayne County in an attempt to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.

Court documents stated he had failed to complete the court-mandated treatment. After reiterating his Miranda rights, Brian disclosed that he had shot and killed his father as he slept, further confessing to assisting his mother in committing suicide by overdosing her on prescription pain medication due to alleged financial constraints. He stated that he started to medicate Cheri around 4:15 am on February 12 before barging into his father’s bedroom at around 10:30 am and fatally shooting Ellis in his sleep. He even disclosed where to find the murder weapon.

On February 26, 2010, Brian was charged with murder and assisting a suicide, with him unsuccessfully attempting to suppress his February 24 statements to police. A jury found him guilty in early October 2013 of both charges, and he was sentenced to 60 years for each murder count, to run consecutively, for an aggregate 120-year executed sentence. Brian, 47, remains incarcerated at the Indiana State Prison. His inmate records state that he will not be eligible for parole before February 2070.

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