The Disappearance of Heather Teague

I was born in Evansville Indiana and although I always had family in the area I only lived there until I was about four years.  In 2014 when I was, shall we say, older than 40, I moved back to the area but to a small town to the east of Evansville called Newburgh.  One of the first things that I learned once moving here was that when they call this the "Tri-State" area, they really mean it.  I have literally shopped in three states in one day without issue.  Although I visited the area often, admittedly I am still getting used to where things are as well as how things seem around here.  It seems that there are several fairly notorious cases that have at least ties to the area.  I will say however, this may just appear this way as first they are "new" cases to me but also because for thirteen years prior to moving back I lived in very small town in which not only was crime not a huge thing it was not super close to any major inner city.  I lived in White County Indiana which is close to half way between Indianapolis and Chicago.  The closest "big town" was Lafayette Indiana which in fairness is really only popular, and likely as big as it is, because it is where Purdue University is located. Although I spent most of my childhood and about ten years, post high school graduation, in Indianapolis, it has been a while since I have been close to a large city and the crime that it incurs. In fact, this is part of the reason I decided to move where I have now, in Newburgh. It still has the very small town feel but instead of having to drive 45 minutes to get to a big town I just go a few miles down the road. For the record, Evansville is considered to be the third largest city in the state.

At any rate, last year after moving back I had seen a story on the news about the anniversary of the disappearance of a girl from "Newburgh Beach."  I did not think much of it but again this year there was talk of it and it being the 20th anniversary of her disappearance.  So as I sat down today, knowing little more than this, and in fact believing that it took place in my town, thinking that if for no other reason I would post about this case in hopes that maybe someone, somewhere would read it and generate some leads.  Boy, was I surprised when I sat down to research and discovered more about the story.  It suddenly became more than a simple disappearance case and I quickly determined that to blog about would not be the easy task I had imagined.  Keep in mind that not only is this case officially unsolved, this is a case in which you have a small town rumor mill, an area known to have corruption involving law enforcement, and the official and the unofficial stories.  As usual when something like this arises I will attempt to make it as least confusing as possible.  Note that I will likely not include all the theories and rumors in which circulate but I will include some. Living in a small town for many years I know how things like this work, rumors get wide spread and become lore and often times are not anywhere close to the truth but in the same respect it is often the local lore that is closer to solving things than law enforcement.

On the afternoon of August 26, 1995 Heather Danyelle Teague was twenty-three years old and went to Newburgh Beach, located in Henderson County Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Newburgh Indiana (Yeah... do not ask, because I do not know!). By most accounts this was a rather popular area and seeing as this was a Saturday afternoon it seems odd to me that the only person who claims to have seen anything was a man across the river looking into a telescope.  The "telescope man" has a name but at this point I am choosing not to publish it despite the fact that I have asked myself today what a man was doing looking through a telescope in the middle of the afternoon at a beach, but as they say, to each his own.  Throughout all of my research, reading articles and websites curiously I was unable to completely determine just how it was discovered that Heather was missing.  The "telescope man" at some point allegedly informed the authorities that at the exact time that a large, bearded, shirtless man confronted Heather at gun point and drug her by her hair into the surrounding woods he was in fact looking in his telescope. But, research indicated that the man did not immediately report this saying he thought it was "a joke."  Yeah, I am confused with that too.  According to a court filing that Heather's mother, Sarah filed in 2013 she received a call from the local police asking her if she knew where her daughter was.  She did not specify in her court filing what time of day this occurred.  She stated that the police said that her car was parked illegally on some farm property and they were preparing to tow the vehicle.  She went on to claim that when she arrived at the location (a location people parked, although apparently not legally, to go to Newburgh Beach) Heather's car was on a the back end of a tow truck and she was approached by officers who showed her part of Heather's bathing suit asking if it was in deed Heather's.  It was then that the officer informed Heather's mother what "telescope man" had claimed to have seen.  Although Sarah has been extremely critical of the police and very vocal about her issues with them I will give them the benefit of the doubt at this time in saying that when they called her they probably already knew all of this information but did not want to inform her on the telephone and preferred to do so in person and did not want her more alarmed than she needed to be as she traveled to the location.  But again, I could find no real concrete information as to when or how the authorities were officially informed of anything.

It did not take long before the authorities had a suspect in mind.  Two things pointed to this person but at least one of them have been brought into question. First, obviously they had the allegations of the "telescope man."  He described the man he allegedly saw abduct Heather and the official report, as well as what he continues to claim, is that a sketch was made from his description. Also it was soon discovered that a farmer in the area was out either with a video camera or still camera taking pictures of some recently damaged crops on the day and likely it seems the time of the alleged abduction.  There were two vehicles in the area.... Heather's vehicle and a truck that looked like one driven by a Marvin "Marty" Dill of Henderson Kentucky.  Dill also looked to match the police sketch, or maybe he did at some point.  This information apparently led them to the home of Marvin Dill.  The official story reads that officers went to the Dill home to question him about Heather and that just as they arrived (or just prior) he told his wife to leave, supposedly telling her "the less you know the better" and that as officers began to enter his home he shot himself and died.  Officially Heather's case remains open twenty years later but apparently unofficially, at least at that time they considered the case technically to be solved and that Dill was responsible despite not searching the home or ever finding Heather's body.

This obviously is not the end of the story but it is a good time to stop and clarify a few things as well as tell the other side to this story.  One reason that I am struggling a bit doing this case is that while I cannot say for sure that Sarah Teague does not have some valid points in many of her arguments, and I cannot say how I would react put in the same situation, I feel as if she is "reaching" in many areas.  This was intensified after reading her court filing from 2013 that I will get more into later. I do sympathize with Mrs. Teague and have to assume that many of the things that she states she has seen or proven are valid. With that said Sarah claims that she had not seen the sketch made by a police artist based on the eye witness for several days, or weeks after the disappearance and after Marvin Dill had died.  She has gone on to claim that not only has she seen pictures provided by Dill's mother, but has seen police reports where Dill was arrested in the few months prior, as well as claims that at the time of his death Dill's head was clean shaven. She goes on to claim that the sketch that was supposedly made by the information from the eye witness looks much like Dill's driver's license and a look he no longer, nor had he in the time leading up to August 26th, maintained.  To be fair, I never saw a picture posted of Dill that did not have hair and even by their own assessment law enforcement claims that Dill was arrested in February of 1995 in Evansville, Indiana, just across the river from Henderson.  Sarah indicates that this was one of the arrests in which she has information on and that his physical description claims that he was "bald." Pertaining to the arrest in February, it was claimed that Dill was pulled over and that inside his truck (the same one that supposedly matched the one seen at the Beach) they all but found a "rape kit" containing guns, knives, rubber gloves, rope and duct tape. Once again I have to be fair in saying I am unsure when this information was released to the public.  If Sarah Teague is right in her criticism of the police handling the case then there is reason to believe that this information could have been fabricated in hopes of making the case seem clear cut, despite there not being a body found. If Marvin Dill really did not have hair at the time of the disappearance why have we not seen it and why would the police say it was him if clearly it was not.  

This then leads us to the Dill home.  Now, as I said the official story seems to indicate as if a band of officers went to his home and in a blaze of glory Dill committed suicide as they were coming in the door.  The other story circulating is that there was only one officer at the home, and considering this officer was related to Marvin Dill I was unable to determine if he was sent in official capacity.  One large thing to keep in mind here is that while I had not heard the stories until I moved down this way, it appears that Western Kentucky had issues with corruption when it came to law enforcement.  I know, I know, we hear it all over, especially today in 2015, but by the sounds of it, this corruption was severe and widespread.  A few months ago I blogged about a Kentucky officer from Central City that was involved in a murder and because he was the first responding officer and the one in charge of the case in the beginning he was able to hide it.  While the corruption was going on in the area (although I must stress I am in no way accusing anyone of anything specific) around the time of Heather's disappearance, it was more than a decade later before much of it came out. I am not saying that there was specifically any corruption in this case, or any proof it any as I could find for certain but the fact that it was known and widespread can also taint the reputation of good officers who are doing their jobs properly whether we like the outcomes or not. At any rate some stories say that this officer that went to the scene had been there for hours before Dill killed himself and that there was no official investigation. Apparently Sarah Teague all but has expressed it was much like they had a suspect, they went to the home, he died, case solved, let's move on. 

So, after Dill dies in his home there was apparently a grand jury session conducted.  I was unable to officially determine just what the prosecutors planned to get out of the session or what it was that they hoped for. My gut tells me that basically they were seeing if what they had appeared to be enough for the grand jury to feel that presumably Dill had been responsible.  Just like so many other things involved in this case I was unable to determine the official outcome of their decision.  The most information that I could find pertaining to this session was that apparently Dill's widow was ordered to testify but that she repeatedly pleaded the 5th in her answers.  This caused outrage to Sarah Teague and it was not long later that Dill's widow had charges of harassment against Sarah, to which she was found not guilty of 8 counts in 1996.  

For the next several years, while it was disputed most maintained that Dill had remained their only suspect and in all likelihood was guilty of being involved and causing Heather's disappearance.  That is until nearly ten years later when someone new was named as a person of interest in Heather's case...Chris Below.
Below was a Henderson native and apparently in the area at the time Heather disappeared but over the years had moved around back and forth.  In 1991 he was living in Ohio when a co-worker, Kathern Fetzer disappeared.  Police were convinced that Below was involved as they had determined that Below and Fetzer were having an affair but apparently they had no proof. Finally in 2003 Below was living in Evansville Indiana and was taken into the police station on charges that he had molested his niece.  While he was there officers from Ohio emerged and apparently planned to charge him with Fetzer's murder.  He in turn confessed.  Eventually he received a term of 11-18 years.  I did a search for Ohio prison inmates and I did come across someone that may be him and states he is still incarcerated but I am uncertain what his official charge was and some claim he has been released.  It was said he was actually offered less time if he led authorities to Fetzer's body but he all but refused.  He told authorities that he had murdered her and put her body in a dumpster but apparently they did not believe that.  At any rate, Below's history was looked into and that is when it was discovered that he had been raised in Henderson and was there at the time of Heather's disappearance.  Some sources say that he left Henderson the day Dill died but I cannot confirm if this was a fact or a rumor.  Authorities also stated they had determined that Heather, Marvin Dill and Chris Below at least had some mutual acquaintances if not knew each other.  Some investigators went on to state that they believed there to be a second person in the video taken from the farmer on the day of the disappearance.  It was theorized that while Dill was involved he may have been sitting in his truck while another figure, unrecognized by the camera (although let's be fair, Dill was not recognized that way either) was ransacking Heather's car. And while this could have been true there seemed no way to prove it nor did all investigators agree. Some continued to maintain that Dill was the lone perpetrator.  

In October of 2009 (although I also saw the year of 2007) Sarah Teague had Heather officially declared dead. She has stated that this was in efforts to obtain a file maintained by the FBI. She claims that the file she finally received a few years later was vastly different in describing the events of August 26, 1995 than the story she had been told by The Kentucky State Police.  And while she says this I found really little that explained just what those differences were.  There was talk that Heather may have met with a FBI agent within the few days prior, or even the night before but nothing was really specific on why that would have occurred.  I am sure if this happened it should have been in the report but I cannot prove that it was.

In February 2013 Sarah filed a lawsuit naming several people as defendants.  I read this filing, that she did pro se, and while my heart goes out to this woman, the filing was just horrible.  There is simply no other way to put it.  First, and this is probably due to the fact that I am a former law student, the form itself was very inadequate for a court filing.  Secondly, reading through it it seemed as if she named anyone and everyone either associated with the case or that even knew Heather.  Aside from naming state and local law enforcement authorities she named the "telescope guy," Heather's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, a victim's advocate, individual law enforcement members, including a FBI agent among a slew of others.  A judge dismissed the law suit a few months later lacking merit. One of the major problems with it, aside from it being very random, she was not really asking for anything specific, it was like it was a rant of all the things she though had gone wrong in the investigation and the people involved.  I personally think that had she retained an attorney, and I admit that this is not always an option, she could have gotten further. She has stated on websites that she plans to refile.  I hope that an attorney helps her sort through things and make a proper filing.  It appears, or at least if you read, her court filing that she has shunned many in the law enforcement community. This is not a good thing for her, or the case for her daughter.  There were notations of people who had stopped taking her calls or returning emails. I do not mean to sound as if I am coming down on Sarah.  I totally support her need to closure and justice in her daughter's case, and good for her for keeping it in the news and spotlight. I am just unsure if it is helping or hurting her case.

I purposely left out another bit of information because I wanted to discuss it separately.  Coincidentally, or maybe not, on August 26, 2005 Heather's first cousin (although unsure of which side of her family), SueAnn Ray from Georgia disappeared.  Yes, you read that correctly.  She disappeared exactly ten years to the day that Heather did.  Her body was found in a shallow grave in February of 2006.  Her husband, Quinton was ultimately convicted of her murder. Part of me finds it very interesting that it seems that little interest seemed to be directed at Quinton and that it appears that it was fairly obvious to everyone he was involved when she disappeared as he had been abusive for many years.  In the same respect, admittedly Quinton would have only been about 17 at the time Heather disappeared and it seems as if it is likely his family was from the Georgia area, but one cannot eliminate a suspect without first looking.  With that said a few other people have been brought up when it comes so social media involving Heather's disappearance.  One of them happened to be Dill's brother in law (who I also will not name by name). Sarah seems to think this a possible viable lead and to be honest it may explain Dill's wife taking the plea of the 5th at the grand jury hearing.  

To be truthful after reading all of the information I could find including websites in which Sarah participates in, as well as her aforementioned court filing, I am unsure what Sarah for sure thinks.  It seems that in one instance she is insisting that Marvin Dill was innocent of the kidnapping and agrees with others that claim an innocent man died because of the investigation. But then it seems the next she is arguing to have property near where Dill lived at the time of his death and property owned by his father searched.  When it comes to Chris Below she tends to do the same thing.  Her court filing seemed to be against anyone that had been accused of uttering a word against Heather or about the case.  In the end I am sure the only thing that Sarah Teague wants is answers as to what happened to her daughter and sadly I am unsure she will ever get that or even if at this point she would believe it if she did.

What I do know is that in the coming week I will be headed to Henderson for some errands and while I am not a praying person, as I pass a billboard that has apparently been erected on the way of my travels, I will send good thoughts that this woman is brought peace.


Popular posts from this blog

Matthew Heikkila

Rebecca Simpson

The murder of Jarrod Davidson