It’s a cold case spanning more than two decades. A young woman sun bathing on Newburgh Beach reportedly held at gunpoint and forced into a wooded area.
Monday, August 26th, 2019 marked nearly two and a half decades since 23-year-old Heather Teague disappeared. State and federal authorities have both investigated the case but to this day they’ve never been able to track down the person responsible for her disappearance. 24 years have passed since Teague was allegedly abducted from that beach and two decades later friends and family say many of the same questions surrounding Heather’s disappearance still remain.
It was a hot summer day in August 1995. The sun was beating down and at least a handful of people were soaking up the rays. Newburgh Beach is really no beach but a sandbar in the middle of the Ohio River, a place to find a little R&R, but also where 23 year old Teague was last seen alive.
A man living on Newburgh’s riverfront happened to be scanning the beach that Saturday afternoon with his telescope. His name is Timothy Walthall and according to multiple records he is the only known eyewitness to see Teague’s alleged abduction. 44News obtained a recording of a call Mr. Walthall made to Kentucky State Police August 26th, 1995.
Dispatcher: “State Police dispatcher Davis?”
Tim Walthall: “Yes sir, I just called the Indiana State Police, I live in newburgh Indiana I mean I was sitting at the dinner table I guess we’re eating dinner and I got a telescope I live right on the river. I scanned the beach right across from the lock and dam and there was a girl on the left hand side of the trees down here and she was sun bathing and she was laying face down and she had her top undone and she was just bathing…about this time a guy come run out of the trees on the left hand side and ran down and grabbed her by the back of the head of the hair and jerked her up. She grabbed a towel and he walked her up into the trees.”
In the call Walthall went on to say it had been more than 25 minutes since he witnessed what he told police. Mr. Walthall is the last person to report seeing Teague alive, she never returned from those woods and what happened to her is a question that remains unsolved. Teague’s disappearance begs many questions especially since no one at the time nor decades later can definitively say what happened to Teague.
They say a concerned parent will do better investigating than the FBI and that is the case when you meet Heather’s mom Sarah. Since the day her first born went missing, Sarah has been trying to answer the question where is Heather? Sarah remembers getting a series on phone calls that Saturday afternoon, “I got a phone call probably about 2:30,” said Sarah. It was Henderson Police, “They were saying, “‘Do you know where Heather is?”‘ Sarah would get a second and third phone call from HPD, “Finally like the third phone call they said, “‘Well, Heather left her car abandon at Newburgh Beach.”‘
Sarah says she and her family had never Heard of Newburgh Beach but without hesitation Sarah and Holly, Heather’s younger sister got in their car headed to find Heather.
“We get there and of course there is yellow police tape and every cop in the whole, you’ve never seen so many cops, they had her car up on a tow truck being towed away and then that empty lounge chair I won’t ever forget that,” said Sarah.
Four days after the alleged abduction, police put out a suspect sketch but Teague’s mom maintains it wasn’t based off the eyewitness description, rather a Ford Bronco a farmer caught on camera leaving Newburgh Beach around the time of Heather’s disappearance.
In Walthall’s call to KSP this is how he describes who he saw hundreds of yards away through the lens of his telescope.
Dispatcher: “What did he look like?”
Tim Walthall: “He was kind of heavyset he just had like blue-jean cut off pants on and tennis shoes and it looked, I couldn’t tell if he had a full beard or if he just had real shaggy hair?”
The number one suspect police were closing in on, Marvin Ray Dill, “Marty” as people called him was from Henderson and no stranger to law enforcement but Sarah believes his Ford Bronco being caught on camera when that farmer was doing crop surveillance completely changed the course of the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance, “The sketch was drawn by his driver’s license.”
But there was a problem with Marty matching the suspect description. Teague’s long time attorney who’s been involved in the case for the better part of a decade explains, “He (Marty) had been serving time the months prior to the abduction and his physical appearance entering and leaving the jail were both bald,” said attorney Chip Adams.
As Teague pressed police it became evident investigators wanted her to go away, “You don’t tell the mother of a person that’s been abducted to stop looking for their child six weeks out. You don’t have a meeting on post and tell the mother to stop looking that the person who has died took their secrets to their grave you should stop looking,” said Adams.
Six days after Teague’s disappearance and just two days after that composite sketch was released authorities were on their way to question Dill – but as police closed in, he allegedly took his own life and police told Sraah Dill took his secrets to his grave. It’s a claim that caught Adams’ attention early on, “Why are they so interested in convincing this mother that she’s never going to find out that the person that committed suicide acted alone, did the abduction and that she’ll never find out, find out what happened.”
Dill would not be the only suspect to emerge. In 2005, Christopher Below a suspected serial killer was also loosely tied to Teague’s case. Below has never admitted to being involved in Teague’s disappearance but he is currently serving time in an Ohio prison for the disappearance of a woman with a striking resemblance to Teague.
Much of the past two decades have been a legal battle for Sarah – in her search for answers in her daughter’s disappearance. In 2016 a Franklin Court Judge – ruled Kentucky State Police “lacked plausible justification for withholding documents” – and “acted in conscious disregard” of Teague’s right to access public records in her daughter’s case. The judge furthermore sanctioned KSP to pay Sarah and Adams nearly $25,000 in fees, all at the cost of taxpayers.
Even as the two have fought hard to get records released there are still many concerns. Sarah and Adams say they’ve heard two different 9-1-1 calls.
One in 2008, “What was so remarkable about the call in 2008 it was basically the same story that they had been trying to sell Ms. Teague since about six weeks after the abduction okay? Mosquito netting and wig over his head.”
But another call in 2016, not the same call the two heard six years earlier say Sarah and Adams, “I stopped him about 3-5 seconds into the call. I stopped Sergeant Pagan and said, “‘Press pause, this is not the same call we heard.”‘
As for the 9-1-1 call Adams and Sarah heard in 2008, KSP says it’s gone. No record of it anywhere. What is on record are the FBI files. In 2007 Sarah had to declare her daughter legally dead to obtain the federal documents that outline possible public corruption, prostitution and much more surrounding Teague’s case. Adams says his next move is to get the full unredacted FBI report, “I have tried to put Heather at the front of everything that we do. Through every door that we walk through, it’s hard not to get emotional.”
Sarah has an entire room in her house filled with clothes and mementos of heather’s childhood. They’re memories she holds onto hoping one day she will be able to answer where is Heather? “The longer the time goes, some mornings I get up and almost know she’s out there,” said Teague.
44News did reach out to Kentucky State Police for comment but the agency declined citing on-going litigation.