Newswatch Exclusive Update on Heather Teague Case
Reporter: Shannon Samson
An Ohio detective may have stumbled on a break in the disappearance of a Tri-state woman.
Heather Teague was last seen nine years ago, sunbathing along an Ohio River beach. An eyewitness says he saw a man drag her off at gunpoint. Now, the Ohio detective's wondering if that man or one of his accomplices was Chris Below, a Henderson Kentucky native who's already behind bars for the murder of a young woman in Ohio.
We've known about Heather Teague for nearly a decade. Folks in Ohio are just finding out about her now. Front page news this past weekend in the Akron Beacon Journal asks if Heather is the second of Chris Below's murder victims. A detective says it's possible based on what he was able to uncover about this man.
Detective Scott Thomas of the Medina, Ohio Police Department says, "Mr. Below is the type of person that if you give him avenues of lying, he will always take them...He sold himself as a southern gentleman....When you looked into Chris Below's eyes, you saw nothing but darkness....He's an extreme manipulator."
Detective Thomas took over the eleven year old Kathern Fetzer missing persons case in 2002. The retiring detective had always suspected she was murdered by her lover, but could never prove it. So, Detective Thomas started digging up everything he could on this prime suspect, Chris Below. "The more I dug, the more it was... Strange, to be quite honest."
The investigation took him to western Kentucky, where Below graduated from Union County High School in 1985. He liked reading true crime books, his favorite: "Abandoned Prayers", which chronicles the story of Eli Stutzman, a former Amish farmer in Ohio who was suspected of killing five homosexual lovers, not to mention his wife and young son.
Detective Thomas says Below would never admit to it, but he too had a secret sex life that involved multiple partners of both genders. Women especially were drawn to him, though his feelings for them appear to be contemptuous, based on the tattoo on his chest. Thomas says, "You can't see it very well, but it's a picture of two women and you know what it represents? It represents, this is what women look like, and it's a dark-haired woman, pretty, when you need them, and then the other one has fangs and he says they turn into blood-sucking whores."
Pictures recovered from one of Below's five ex-wives also show him wearing a ring Detective Thomas thinks is too small for him. He says investigators always look for items killers may take from their victims as trophies. "I have yet to find the owners of the jewelry."
He never did find the ring Kathern Fetzer used to wear. But by the time he confronted Below in November of 2003, he didn't need it. Below was living in Evansville, when officers brought him downtown to question him about an accusation that he had molested his niece.
When they were done, Detective Thomas walked into the interrogation room. "He didn't know I was a detective from Medina, and when I told him and that I was there to charge him with the aggravated murder of Kathern Fetzer, that the game was over, he almost fell out of his chair."
Without a body, Detective Thomas knew he would need a confession, but Below was not about to just hand over one. Because he did so much homework on Below before that interrogation, Thomas was able to close off all those avenues where Below could potentially lie. It took four hours, but Detective Thomas did finally get Below to tell him he shot Fetzer in his apartment in Medina County, Ohio. "His quote was he's screwed in the head, but he's really a good guy. So, in his mind, he believed that, but I believe he wouldn't have confessed unless he knew he had no way out."
Detective Thomas's main objective was to get Below to reveal where he had disposed of Fetzer's body. He said he had thrown it in a dumpster, but the detective didn't buy it.
A friend of Below's said he once bragged about knowing how "to get rid of bodies" by burying them in a shallow grave and putting lime on top, or feeding them to hogs, which will eat everything, including clothing and bone. Thomas says, "That's pretty horrendous to think about throwing a body in a hog pen and most people don't want to think that people are capable of doing that, but unfortunately they are." He says it's possible that's what happened to Fetzer.
Four hundred fifty miles away in western Kentucky, it's also a possibility that's come up in the Heather Teague case. Detective Thomas says Below is a "person of interest" in the Teague case because he's from the area and was there when she disappeared. Shortly after, he moved away.
Fetzer and Teague also bear a strong resemblance to each other, both around five feet tall and weighing a hundred pounds. Thomas says, "We believe that the victims, there was something about his victimization, people that he chose to control and dominate and that is a domination and a control. Are there similar ones out there? We want to look to see if he was ever in those areas."
Thomas wouldn't say how many other missing persons cases he's looking into, and he can say little else about the Teague case because he doesn't want to step on the toes of the Kentucky State Police. What he does want is information from the people of Kentucky, anyone who may have known Below. "If he was involved, we certainly want to get to the bottom of it. I can guarantee you I won't stop. That won't happen. It's not in me. It's not in me and I can't."
The only motive that Detective Thomas could get out of Below for killing Kathern Fetzer was that she played "head games" and he didn't like it. And since he suspects Below is involved in the Heather Teague case, I asked him to speculate on a possible motive.
He answered me with one word: sex. He didn't really elaborate on that other than to say much of what Below did was motivated by his strong sex drive.
So about these other missing person cases, does the detective think we have a serial killer on our hands? Detective Thomas would not go that far, but he did say FBI profilers believe he has many of the traits of a serial killer.