A local judge and prosecutor wanted a convicted killer to get a mental evaluation before the state released him on parole to live in Johnson County.
The judge’s request for a hearing triggered some moves for Michael Kloess, 51, who in 1991 pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a charge of murder. He was serving a 45-year prison sentence.
Kloess had served 22 years of his sentence after killing Thomas Gentry of New Whiteland in 1990 and pleading guilty to a murder charge in Johnson Circuit Court. He was scheduled to be released on parole in March to live in his home in Whiteland. Inmates can be released before their sentence is complete if they earn credit for good behavior or education or other programs while in prison.
The concern of the judge and other officials was that Kloess’ mental health problems would cause him to be unsafe to live in the county when he moved back, Prosecutor Brad Cooper said. He declined to elaborate on specific concerns.
Kloess was moved from prison to the Johnson County jail in February and stayed there until May. For weeks, his parole officer, William Creamean, could not locate him and thought Kloess was disobeying his parole sentence. In April, he asked the parole board to issue a warrant for his arrest.
In March, Kloess had appeared before Judge Cynthia Emkes, who ordered a mental health evaluation for him. When local jailers saw that the state had issued a warrant for his arrest, they told the parole officer he was being held in the county jail before and after a hearing regarding a mental health evaluation. Most recently, he has been under the care of Adult & Child Mental Health in Indianapolis, Creamean said.
Both Emkes and Kloess’ attorney, Carrie Miles, said they could not comment on his medical treatment or whether it was inpatient or outpatient.
On Friday, the parole board decided to withdraw the warrant because Kloess did not purposefully violate his parole. He will remain on parole until March, said Charmain Lawrence, a parole district supervisor for re-entry.
Kloess called his parole officer once in March but never met with him as required.
That’s because Kloess didn’t understand that he still had parole to serve, Creamean said. He met Kloess for the first time Thursday, more than three months after Kloess’ first scheduled parole report date.
The state parole board issued a warrant for his arrest in April but canceled it when the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office told the parole office that Kloess was in the county jail waiting for a court-ordered mental evaluation. The jail sent Kloess to Community Hospital North in early May, though the hospital initially refused to confirm that Kloess was there, Creamean said.
It was Kloess’ responsibility to keep the parole office updated on where he was, regardless of what the county had him doing, Creamean said. He located Kloess this week after talking with a representative of Adult & Child Mental Health, who confirmed that Kloess was getting mental health treatment through the agency.
Emkes and other officials wanted Kloess to be evaluated before releasing him into society out of concern that his mental health issues might make him unsafe, because it was determined two decades ago that Kloess’ mental health issues contributed to why he murdered Gentry, Cooper said. Kloess’ mental health court file is sealed and unavailable for public inspection. Kloess is voluntarily cooperating with mental health treatment, Cooper said.
The parole board issued a second arrest warrant May 31 after Community Hospital North wouldn’t initially confirm that he was there, Creamean said.
Kloess’ court-appointed attorney, Miles, said she could not discuss the case without first talking with her client. Phone messages left at Adult & Child Mental Health were not returned.