W. Indiana slayings leader Drollinger dies in cell

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CARLISLE, Ind. (AP) -- Roger Clay Drollinger, sentenced to four life sentences for a 1977 western Indiana home invasion that left three teenage brothers and their step-brother dead, died in his cell Wednesday, a prison spokesman said. He was 61.

Drollinger was found unresponsive in his cell, said Rich Larsen, spokesman for the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

"Custody staff found Drollinger unresponsive as breakfast was being delivered around 6:45 a.m.," the maximum security prison located about 70 miles north of Evansville said in a news release.

An autopsy was pending, Larsen said. Foul play was not suspected.

Drollinger was serving four life sentences for the Feb. 14, 1977, shotgun slayings of Gregory Brooks, 22, and his stepbrothers, Raymond Spencer, 17, Reeve Spencer, 16, and Ralph Spencer, 14.

Their mother and the lone survivor, Betty Jane Spencer, identified Drollinger as the leader among four men who broke into her rural home near Hollandsburg, about 50 miles west of Indianapolis, and ordered the five occupants to lie on the floor. After taunting and threatening them for nearly an hour, the intruders began firing shotguns in what authorities later described as thrill killings.

When the force of one blast blew Spencer's wig askew, the killers presumed her skull had shattered and left her for dead. After the intruders left, she fled the house and found help.

At Drollinger's trial, Spencer recalled the scene.

"I heard this horrible noise, and I realized it was blood rushing from our boys," she said. "I don't know how to describe it. Almost like a waterfall."

Spencer died in 2004.

Drollinger's accomplices continue to serve life sentences at the Pendleton Correction Facility northeast of Indianapolis, Larsen said.

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