Last week, a Kentucky judge imposed penalties of $14,000 against the Kentucky State Police for not releasing 911 records in the Heather Teague case.
Heather Teague was reported abducted in Henderson County in 1995. She was sunbathing on Newburgh Beach at the time of her disappearance and never found.
Heather's mother, Sarah Teague, and attorney Chip Adams tried to get the names of the investigators who handled the records. KSP had previously argued the 911 records were withheld because the investigation was ongoing. The judge also ordered KSP to pay Teague's attorney fees.
Brad Byrd talks with Sarah Teague and Chip Adams about the judge's decision for KSP to release the 911 records, and what happens next in this cold case.
Transcript of Interview:
Brad Byrd: "Welcome to In-Depth. In August 1995 Heather Teague went sunbathing on a beach on the Henderson County side of the Ohio River. She was alone -- she was reportedly abducted by a man and dragged off the beach...never to be seen again. More than 22 years have passed, Heather's mother has asked the same question ever since -- who took her, and where is she now? This month, after a long legal battle, a Kentucky county judge ruled the Kentucky State Police must pay penalties and attorney fees for witholding certain records of 9-1-1 calls, evidence. I'm joined tonight by Heather's mother -- Sarah Teague -- and her attorney Chip Adams. And Sarah, and Chip, thank you very much for joining us tonight. This is obviously an ongoing very painful story, understandably. But your first reaction to this ruling... you texted me a couple of weeks ago and said, 'We won.' What was your first gut reaction on this?"
Sarah Teague: "I was so happy because after 22 years of just fighting for just little things, we won. We have a compassionate judge. When we met Judge Shepherd it was just he knew something was wrong."
Brad Byrd: "And Chip, from a legal standpoint, your case, your argument here, basically the penalties that have been sanctioned here by this judge, what are those mean in layman’s terms?"
Chip Adams: "Going on the lines of what Sarah said, Brad. The sanctions validate some of the issues that Sarah has had from the beginning. Um, we originally heard a couple of calls ... the 911 call was listened to back in 2008. It was again listened to in 2016. There were some discrepancies between those two calls and that’s what prompted Ms. Teague and I to start down that path of an open records request. They were denied. And they shouldn’t have been. So, it’s been a major validation for Ms. Teague in what has been a consistent struggle for Ms. Teague and the family to get information on Heather."
Brad Byrd: "These calls reportedly made by one witness presumably in this case who was on the Indiana side of the river that day and, Sarah, show me these pictures right here. This particular witness basically gave an account of the man you see here. Actually we’re seeing two men. This gentleman down here is an Ohio state prison inmate and this is a gentleman by the name of Marty Dill."
Sarah Teague: "Right. Tim Walthall was watching through a telescope. And he first says a man with dark hair and a bushy beard took my daughter. Dragged her into the woods. They waited four days to do a sketch and when they did the sketch, the sketch, as you can see, is identical to Marty Dill’s ’94 drivers license. This sketch wasn’t done until Day 4 after the Kentucky State Police saw a video of a Bronco that belonged to Marty Dill. Marty Dill was actually bald. This is him the day he got out of jail. His friend took him to Holiday World. He did not have all this hair, nor a beard. And he was actually ... Tim Walthall described him as being 6 foot, 210-230 pounds. Marty Dill is 4 inches shorter and 45 pounds lighter."
Brad Byrd: "Marty Dill died, of course, as Kentucky State Police were preparing to question him in this case."
Chip Adams: "That’s correct."
Brad Byrd: "Chip, breaking this down as far as the importance, though, of this chain of evidence ... these 911 records ... after 22 years, this case is not over in your eyes."
Chip Adams: "It’s not. It’s not resolved at this point."
Brad Byrd: "Because of what we have learned here through these 911 calls, or is there other evidence you feel is out there?"
Chip Adams "That’s a good question. The 911 calls themselves, because there are discrepancies in the two calls, it opens the door for more questions. Basically, we call into question the witness. Tim Walthall is the individual who made the calls. Ms. Teague and I have heard the call in ’08 that references a mosquito netting or an actual wig that the perpetrator wore. The call that’s been released to us from KSP does not have those specific words anywhere in that call. It raises a lot of questions."
Brad Byrd: "And Kentucky State Police, we contacted a spokesperson for KSP today ... I've not heard back ... but KSP in the argument in it rendered to get their side of the story on this during the litigation was the records would not be released because this was an ongoing investigation, and no final prosecution had taken place. What was your response to that?"
Chip Adams: "Well, those are accurate statements. Obviously, the case is ongoing. If a lead were to come in right now or a call, the state police is going to pursue that, and we believe that. Under the standards when records are denied, specificity has to be provided. They have to tell you what damage it's going to cause if those records are released. The judge's decision that came out basically says their response was vague, their denial to our request was vague. He ordered them to give us the calls, and they did do that. And in addition, they sanctioned the state police from May 25, 2016, to when those records were released, and they were ordered to pay the fees associated with that."
Brad Byrd: "Does your argument that these two calls contradict each other in some ways because of the description of the individual on that beach through the lens of a telescope? With that being said, the first call to authorities ... now, we're talking about events that took place 22 years ago ... went to according to the witness Warrick County Sheriff's Office. No record of that was found of that according to your findings, and then to the Indiana State Police. But there was a time lapse there somewhat. Why is that important?"
Chip Adams: "Well, it opens the door for I guess there to be a lapse in time for when the witness reacted. It also calls into action we have not found a record of the calls the witness said he made. The record that was released to the public, the witness says 'I just got off the phone with state police.' That's not accurate."
Brad Byrd: "What is the motivation of that? What is the motivation of investigators to basically prolong this in your allegation on this?"
Chip Adams: "You've got to be careful to speculate. You've got to be careful. We don't want to start throwing mud to speak negatively. It calls into question ... and I can put my hand on the description of Marty Dill ... Marty Dill was in Webster County Jail just weeks before this abduction took place. There's no physical way for him to have the dark, bushy hair and beard. The state police, the investigators on this case, they're not interested in pursuing whether this witness ... whether this individual met this physical description. It's causing problems, or it's leading to the conclusion if we're having so many problems with these collateral issues, description of the perpetrator, whether they're going to release these 911 calls ... there not supposed to have anything to do with the crime. Heather Teague is gone. She was abducted. Why are we having so many problems with these collateral issues unless there's a problem with them all."
Brad Byrd: "Okay, Sarah, where do you take this from here then?"
Sarah Teague: "What I want to say, Brad, is when I heard this call and heard he was waiting 25 minutes, who would wait 3 seconds if they saw a girl being dragged into the woods with their hair? Now, whether she dropped her towel, whether she held on to her towel, my daughter according to him was dragged into the woods by her hair. When I hear him on this call, just say 'Ah, I've been waiting 25 minutes for her to come out of the woods', it breaks my heart. That's my child."
Brad Byrd: "And where do you take the case from here?"
Chip Adams: "Brad, we continue to try to get answers. We're still right back where we were May 2016 asking why have we heard two separate calls? We'll continue to ask those questions. We'll continue to ask the witness be questioned. There's not a clear path because the file is still closed. It's a 22 year investigation. We'd love for the file to be open."
Brad Byrd: "We lay this ribbon on the table tonight. You brought this in tonight. You finally, Sarah, speak of Heather in the present tense. How old is she?"
Sarah Teague: "Heather will be 46 years old April the 25th."
Brad Byrd: "And was legally declared dead ..."
Sarah Teague: "I had to declare Heather legally deceased to obtain the FBI files."
Brad Byrd: "Alright. Well, this discussion will undoubtedly continue. I appreciate you coming in tonight to talk with us tonight, and this case has so many layers and dynamics that eight to nine minutes is not getting the job done. But we'll continue to explore and to investigate. Thank you."
Sarah Teague and Chip Adams: "Thank you so much."
Brad Byrd: "Sarah Teague and her attorney, Chip Adams."
(This story was originally published January 16, 2018)
Three weeks after Eyewitness News first reported on the suspension of…
With about 1,593 tickets still unsold, Easterseals is holding two…
Marathon crews believe they have found the source of an oil leak in…