Vickie Harper was charged last week with murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend Jerry Etheridge, whom she claimed she had to shoot after a sexual assault

By Chris Harris
April 19, 2018 11:16 AM
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Credit: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Last summer, when Vickie Harper fatally shot her 53-year-old ex-boyfriend, she told police it was in self-defense following a vicious, hours-long sexual assault.

Indiana authorities now believe otherwise. On April 10, following a nine-month investigation, they charged Harper, 52, with murder, PEOPLE confirms.

Her arrest caps the multi-agency probe into the July 9, 2017, shooting death of Jerry Etheridge — a man police say she’d dated on and off for years

In a statement, Indianapolis police confirmed the murder charge against Harper was filed after “enough probable cause was established” to refute her insistence it was a self-defensive shooting.

Harper called authorities the morning Etheridge was shot and killed last year, and she told them she was the one who pulled the trigger. Etheridge was found on his couch, with a gunshot wound to the chest.

According to a probable cause affidavit against Harper, obtained by the Indianapolis Star, Harper allegedly told responding officers that she killed him after he sexually assaulted her over several hours.

She told detectives the sexual assault began the night before around 9:15 p.m., when Etheridge ripped her clothes off, the affidavit alleges, according to the Star. The purported attack continued well into the next morning and included death threats from Etheridge, she said.

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The affidavit reportedly states that, according to Harper’s alleged version of events, she retrieved a loaded shotgun after 4 a.m. on July 9, 2017, and confronted Etheridge. He reacted by sitting on his couch, placing his hands behind his head, and smiling defiantly, she claimed.

However, she allegedly said, she didn’t mean to fire the weapon but it had a “hair trigger,” causing it to go off.

Authorities said their subsequent investigation showed that Harper’s claims did not have corroborating evidence, according to the Star.

Among the reported discrepancies, according to police, are that it appeared Harper’s clothing was cut, not torn, and that Etheridge may have been sleeping when he was shot as his eyes were closed when police arrived and his body looked relaxed.

Text messages recovered from both cell phones allegedly further contradicted Harper’s account, the Star reports.

It was unclear Thursday if Harper had entered a plea. Her trial is set for June 11.

PEOPLE could not reach her attorney for comment. She remains in custody without bond.