Hooten confesses to media: 'I did a terrible thing' - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Hooten confesses to media: 'I did a terrible thing'

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Richard Hooten Richard Hooten
Tara Willenborg Tara Willenborg

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – It is rare for a person charged with rape and murder to admit to the crime and even rarer for the suspect to confess to crimes on camera. But that is exactly what Richard Hooten did. Hooten is charged with brutally killing 17-year-old Tara Willenborg of Clarksville. On Monday, Hooten faced cameras to admit his guilt and apologize to the teenager's family.

'I am sorry for what I done, first time I did that to anybody," Hooten said, referring to Willenborg's murder. But Hooten admitted it was not the first time he raped a woman.

Hooten said he "lost it" Friday night when he raped and strangled Willenborg. The teenager's fiance found her dead early Saturday morning inside their apartment at the Cambridge Square Apartments on Cambridge Boulevard in Clarksville.

Hooten said he left a nearby bar that night, walked toward his girlfriend's apartment in the same complex and saw Willenborg sitting on the stoop. He said he asked her if he could hang out with her, and she told him he could. Hooten said shortly after that, he forced himself on her. He said the last thing he remembers Tara saying is "don't" and "leave." He said he blocked out her screams and tears as he raped her.

"I was just having sex with her, and anxiety on me, I guess," said Hooten. "I had my hands around her throat and kept going and going, but I didn't know how strong I was putting pressure on her on when I was choking her. Tried to give her CPR and mouth-to-mouth trying to revive her and did that for ten to fifteen minutes trying to get her back and couldn't, and just acted like she did herself and tied up one of her aprons around her neck and left." Hooten said he didn't call 911.

Police arrested Hooten a short time after her body was found.

Hooten has spent one-third of his life behind bars for rape convictions, but he said that wasn't enough to make him stop. Hooten said he knows he needs help and failed to get it in the past. This time, he said, the only thing to keep him from raping again is to stay behind bars.

Hooten said he started raping women when he was in his 20s. He admitted raping at least four or five people.

The Louisville Metro Police Departments sex crimes unit is investigating a January 2013 case against him.

"The bar I committed the (January) crime was O'Dollys," said Hooten. O'Dollys is located off 3rd Street Road in Louisville.

Willenborg was laid to rest on Wednesday. Her family said the teenager loved animals and had dreams of owning her own cupcake bakery.

"Our hearts are broken, and our lives will never be the same," said Tara's uncle Neal Curran. "We are relieved that the murderer is behind bars where he cannot hurt anyone else."

The Clark County Prosecutor said he's exploring the possibility of seeking the death penalty in the case.

"They want to take a life for a life, that's fine," said Hooten. "I did a terrible thing." Hooten said he plans to plead guilty.

The sheriff said Hooten is being held in an isolated cell. He is being held without bail and will be appointed a public defender.

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