Former Marine Charged in Killing of Indiana Professor After Alleged Sex Encounter

Police: Michael Griffin murdered Prof. Belton after Christmas Day sex encounter.

ByABC News
December 31, 2009, 12:43 PM

Dec. 31, 2009— -- Was a sexual encounter between a well-respected professor and an ex-Marine the start of a new relationship or an assault?

The answer could be behind the brutal stabbing death of Indiana University professor Don Belton. A former Marine and Iraq veteran, 25-year-old Michael J. Griffin, has confessed to killing the 53-year-old man in retaliation for what he said were two sexual assaults on Christmas Day that Belton refused to apologize for.

But according to court documents, a journal found at Belton's house contained notes he wrote in the week prior to Christmas that "he is very happy that an individual by the name of Michael has come into his life."

Griffin has been charged with murder in the Dec. 27 attack that shocked Belton's colleagues at IU Bloomington where he taught English as an assistant professor.

"He was a generous and talented professor who had much potential," Provost Karen Hanson said in a statement on the school's Web site. "We were shocked and saddened by his death."

A candle-light vigil in Belton's honor is planned for Friday on the university's Bloomington campus.

Bloomington Police Lt. David Drake told today that police "really don't know" if the incident on Christmas Day was consensual or not.

When Griffin was arrested as his house the next day, Drake said, he was in possession of a 9mm gun and had his 2-year-old son with him. Drake said police had received a report that Griffin had made comments about wanting just one more night with his son and authorities were concerned he may try to harm himself or the little boy.

Griffin pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Wednesday. He is being held without bond. Drake said Griffin does not have a known record.

According to the probable cause affidavit, police were called to Belton's home on Monday after a colleague found his body. He had been stabbed multiple times in the back and side.

Because it appeared nothing had been taken from the home, officers believed it "to be a crime of anger or passion."

Along with the diary that spoke of Belton's happiness with "Michael," police said they also found a 4 x 6 card by the computer with a phone number, e-mail and directions for someone with the name "Griffin." The address later led investigators to Griffin's home, where he was taken into custody.

Shortly after Belton's body was discovered, police in Batesville, Ind., called Bloomington detectives to tell them a woman, later identified to be Griffin's girlfriend, had called to report that her boyfriend may have been involved with Belton's murder.