Lisa Marie Techel

On May 26, 2012 911 operators near the small town of Agency Iowa (the 2010 census says there were 638 people) received a call from Seth Techel.  He would report that while he was in the shower someone had come into the home he shared with his wife and shot her while she was in bed.  EMT's and investigators converged on the scene, including one, Todd Caldwell who just so happened to be Lisa Marie Techel's father who was a sheriff's deputy for the county. Not only would they find Lisa dead, but knowing she was only four and a half months pregnant, they knew her baby was too.

The town, the police and Lisa's family rallied around Seth.  He was their family!! But, even as they were all their grieving they were trying to figure out who would have done this.  Initial suspicion fell on the Techel's neighbor, Brian Tate. Deputies had been called out to the area a few times leading up to the murder. Police believed Tate to be mentally unstable.  Tate had done most of the calling to the authorities over the past several months.  He would complain that his property was being vandalized by the Techel's and their friends.  Todd Caldwell had even been out on a few of those calls.  He had encouraged his daughter and her new husband to steer clear of Tate as much as possible.  

While the area was searched, a 12 gauge Mossberg shot gun was found in the tall grass near the Techel property but more on the property belonging to Tate. My research indicated that the fact that the rifle had been found was kept a secret from most people, including even Seth Techel, but the area was under surveillance to see if anyone appeared to go looking for it.  An officer would report that the day following the murder both Seth and his father were out near that exact spot and he could hear the elder Techel chastising his son but apparently not the exact conversation.  

Lisa and Seth had been high school sweethearts and the twenty three year olds had just gotten married in October of 2011.  Lisa was a reserve deputy in the sheriff's department and worked along side her father.  Seth was working as a security guard but he too planned to go further in the field of law enforcement. From all outward appearance they seemed to be happy and were even more excited for the upcoming arrival of their first child, which had been determined to be a girl.

Everything that everyone thought they knew about the Techel's was shattered fairly quickly.  On May 30, 2012, just four days after the murder, Seth Techel was arrested in the murders of his wife and unborn child.  Some would argue that Lisa's family prestige had something to do with it, while other would claim that the Techel family was just as well known and liked in the area.  Some believe that the fact that her father worked for the sheriff's department and that it was quickly learned that Seth Techel was having an affair played a large role in his arrest.

But, it would be discovered that Seth was not the only person in the relationship that was being unfaithful.  For her part Lisa had had an affair of her own with a co-worker.  In fact, at the time of her death she was unsure if the father of her baby was her husband or her now ex lover's baby.  Subsequent testing would determine that the baby did belong to Seth Techel.  However, it was not revealed as to whether Seth even knew about Lisa's affair because he was having one of his own.

Seth's affair was also with a co-worker at his job.  Her name was Rachel McFarland.  Investigators would quickly learn that Rachel and Seth had been sending lengthy text messages and emails to each other right up until the day of Lisa's murder.  Rachel would claim, and it seems as if there was evidence of her telling the truth, that just a few weeks before the murder she had confronted Seth, who had promised to divorce Lisa for him, that she was tired of waiting and ready to move forward, with or without him.  According to Rachel he had asked her for "two more weeks" before she broke it off.  It was near the end of this two weeks that Lisa would be murdered in her bed.

Up until about a week prior to the murder, a friend of Seth's, Lucas Howell had lived with the couple.  He would identify the gun that had been found near the home, that had been identified as the murder weapon, as a gun that belonged to him but that he had left at the home.  Investigators looked into Howell but determined that he had recently had shoulder surgery and while they could find no motive for him to murder his friend's wife, he also could not have physically shot the gun.  

Seth Techel would face three trial.  The first trial was in February of 2013.  It ended in a hung jury when they could not decide on a verdict.  Their last poll was 10-2 guilty.  His second trial would be in November of 2013.  It too ended in a hung jury (although I could not find what the results were).  Each time his trial was moved from the area because of the publicity but by the third trial they decided that it needed to be held much further north in Iowa as it was hard to find someone in southern Iowa who had not heard about the case.  His third trial was held in July of 2014.  This time the jury found him guilty.  He was ultimately sentenced to life without parole plus twenty-five years.  The twenty-five years was for the charge of killing the baby.  

Defense attorney's always attempted to argue that Brian Tate was a legitimate suspect.  In my opinion he seemed to be a good patsy.  Tate had died in the fall of 2012 long before any of Seth Techel's trials even began so he was in now way available to defend himself.  However, prosecutors were able to show that it was discovered after the murder that all of those calls Tate had made to the police about the vandalism were in fact legitimate calls.  Up until that point the investigators had thought Tate to be unstable, which in fairness he may have been, but not when it came to this.  A friend of Seth's testified that he and others had dumped dog feces and thrown rocks onto the property at least twice. He would claim that on at least one of those occasions Seth had told them to "go mess with Tate."  There is no telling how many other times this was done. Some wonder if it was not Seth's plan all along to murder his wife and make it look like Brian Tate did it.  If he could have kept his own affair under wraps more he may have even gotten away with it.


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