Sad Indy Theatre News: John Austin Butsch Killed

Update 4/18/11:  Here is a direct link to the obituary in the Indianapolis Star:

It includes the following information (at the end) about a memorial service:

A Memorial Celebration will be held on Wednesday, May 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Athenaeum Theatre, 401 E. Michigan St. Burial services will be private.

John’s sister, Kristin, emailed me to add that calling is from 6 – 8pm with a service/program from 7 – 7:30pm.

Update 4/19/11 – Unfortunately, I have a work conflict that night that I can neither reschedule nor delegate, so I will not be able to attend the celebration of John’s life.  However, I will be there in spirit, wishing John and his family and friends all comfort and peace.


(Original April 9, 2011 post below, with an update on April 13, 2011)

I am very sad to report that beloved music director John Austin Busch was killed in his home in the beautiful old Woodruff Place neighborhood on the near east side of Indianapolis on Thursday night. 

According to several mainstream media reports (see links, below), someone called the police because their neighbor’s door had been open a long time.  The investigating officers found a body.  Most of the reports do not name John but there were many shocked and grieving references to him on Facebook and Twitter last night and this morning.

I called today (Saturday) and left a message asking for more information from Sgt. Paul Thompson.  He is one of the media relations officers for the Indianapolis Police Department.  If he calls me back, I will update this post.  However, if he has to choose between finding time to call me back and working on the investigation itself, I hope he chooses the investigation!

I also talked with local theatre photographer Zach Rosing by phone.  He said that he could confirm that it was John’s body that had been found because he had spoken with John’s long-time creative partner, Bob Harbin.   Zach added that people had sung an impromptu tribute to John at the monthly “Noise!” open microphone piano cabaret at the White Rabbit last night.

So…the main reason I am posting is to say how very sorry I am for John’s family and friends, and for myself and the rest of the Indianapolis theatre community, for this loss.

I didn’t know John personally but I enjoyed the many shows that he music-directed for the former American Cabaret Theatre and the more recently-formed BobDirex company at the Athenaeum in downtown Indianapolis.  I wrote about three of John’s ACT shows here on Indy Theatre Habit:  “The Wiz,” “Swing,” and “Victor Victoria.”  I wrote about his “The Music of Motown: Let’s Get It On” on Indiana Auditions.  And I believe he music directed the hilarious “A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum” last summer for BobDirex, too.  I didn’t blog about that show because I was on sabbatical.

The Indianapolis theatre community will not be the same without John Austin Butsch.

When I find an obituary and/or learn more about a memorial service for John I will update this post. 

(Update 4/13/11:  I still have not heard or read any specifics about a memorial service yet.  However, Lou Harry wrote a tribute to John in his A&E blog for the Indianapolis Business Journal and several people have left memorial comments.  Here is a direct link:

Zach Rosing also started a memorial thread on   Here is a direct link:

Several people have also left memorial comments on John’s Facebook wall.  Here is a direct link to that:!/john.austin.butsch?sk=wall 

Sergeant Thompson from the Indianapolis Police did return my call, for which I am grateful.  They released John’s name and the name of the man they suspect of killing him.  I am continuing to follow the reports in the mainstream media but I do not plan to continue posting links to each article here.    I will, however, post any information I receive about a memorial service.

Again, I wish to convey my deepest sympathy to all of John’s family and friends.)

Hope Baugh –

Here are the links to some mainstream media reports posted today, in random order:

“Police Discover Body in Woodruff Place” – Indy Star – April 8, 2011 –

“IMPD Investigating Homicide On Near East Side,” by Alex Brown – April 8, 2011 – WIBC 93.1 –

“Woodruff Place Neighbors Shocked By Homicide,” by Ann Keil – April 8, 2011 – Fox59 –,0,334302.story 

“Police: Body Found in East Side Home” – April 7, updated April 8, 2011 – Channel 6 News –

“Police Investigating East Side Death as Homicide” – WTHR Channel 13 – April 8, 2011 –

“Woodruff Place Neighborhood On Edge As Homicide Investigation Continues” – WISH TV Channel 8 – April 8, 2011 –

9 thoughts on “Sad Indy Theatre News: John Austin Butsch Killed”

  1. Thanks for posting this,Hope. It ties together what I’ve seen on Facebook and what little has been reported in the media.

  2. Thought our brother’s lyrical words befitting of his own passing:

    All In A Moment
    –John Austin Butsch, circa 1979
    Song #234 (approx)…

    It’s all in a moment
    That one love comes to you
    And all in a moment
    It’s gone away

    It’s all in a moment
    That one life comes to be
    And all in a moment
    It passes away
    So suddenly one day

    Only one life do we receive
    To find our way
    And only one life
    To find love

    It’s all in moment
    Short as a lifetime
    That one love shines through you

    And all in a moment
    It fades away

    It’s all in moment
    Deeper than hightide
    That one mind knows the truth

    And all in a moment
    It knows no more
    No longer as before

    Only one life have we
    To believe in someone true
    And only one life to be born anew

    Only one time does the butterfly
    Know the joy the that it flew

    It’s all in a moment
    That we find love
    Love, love, love

  3. You’re welcome, Jim. Lou, thanks for the update.

    Maria, thank you for sharing the lyrics to one of John’s songs. Thank you, too, for telling me what you knew about how he died. I removed that comment today (4/13/11) because now there is enough information in the mainstream media about the brutality of his death and here on my blog I would rather focus on the many contributions of his life. But still…I can’t tell you how sorry I am that the end of his life was so violent. What a tragedy! What a loss. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

  4. Johnnie was the dearest friend I ever had. We were immediate friends and spent days on end together simply enjoying each others company. My sadness over this horrible and senseless act is overwhelming.
    I grew up in the house where he was killed and in my heart he was the fourth in it’s generation because he was as close to me as any brother I could have ever hoped for.
    I will miss him for the remainder of my time on this god forsaken planet.

  5. A Musical Loss for Indy

    I was personally shocked by this terrible murder last week. I knew John as a fellow musician, friend, and he was always kind to me and shared piano oppurtunities/gigs. I have always aimed to reach his level of musical mastery, especially with theatre/showtune music. He never ceased to amaze me with his abilities. Indy has suffered a major loss and many people might not have realized from a musical point of view, how brilliant this man really was. I agree that he will continue to make music and that monster who ended his life will never be in that place. We were all lucky to experience his talents. Best Regards.

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