After more than eight grueling months of searching place after place, questioning witnesses and collecting evidence, Evansville police detectives arrested the man they believe abducted and murdered Aleah Beckerle, the would-be 20-year-old severely disabled woman. Police said Terrence Roach, the half-brother of one of Aleah’s sisters, confessed that he abducted and confined Aleah in a house in the 1600-block of South Bedford. There her body lay as abandoned as the vacant home where she was found.
Roach, 24, has been preliminarily charged with murder, burglary, kidnapping, criminal confinement and abuse of a corpse. He remains in the Vanderburgh County Detention Center after being booked into jail around 5 o’clock Friday evening. Capt. Andy Chandler said Roach was initially labeled as a person of interest and voluntarily agreed to an interview with detectives. During that interview, according to police, Roach admitted to his role in Aleah’s disappearance and death.
According to the probable cause affdavit, Roach confessed to the crime, stating that after smoking K2 or synthetic marijuana, the idea of going and taking Aleah just ‘popped in his head.’ Roach allegedly admitted to breaking and entering into Aleah’s home through a side window of the bedroom belonging to Aleah. Roach told detectives that he did this to avoid waking up anyone inside the home, the affidavit stated. Roach then told detectives that he picked up Aleah, carried her and then exited the home through the same window, according to the affidavit.
Once placing Aleah in his truck, Roach then drove to the home on South Bedford, according to the affidavit.
After taking her inside the home, Roach stated that he used duct tape on Aleah but she died while in the house, the affidavit states. After Aleah had died, Roach admitted that he had sexual intercourse with her, according to the affidavit.
By no means does Roach’s arrest mean the investigation into Beckerle’s disappearance and death is over. Given the high-profile nature of the woman’s disappearance, however, authorities felt it was prudent to announce that an arrest had been made. Roach’s arrest comes roughly 48 hours after Aleah’s body was positively identified. Acting on a tip, detectives responded to the home on South Bedford Avenue and found Aleah’s badly decomposed body Monday night.
Her remains were positively identified through a medical device known as a vagus nerve stimulator, which has been likened to a pacemaker for the brain. The medical device is typically used on patients with epilepsy.
“There are only certain crimes that are available for seeking the death penalty or life without parole. That’s something that needs to be evaluated but first you have to be able to show there was an intentional murder,” said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. “That is something that we’re still in the middle of investigating this case. That’s something that will be evaluated at a later date.”
According to court records, Terrence Roach has been involved in multiple felony cases since 2013. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to criminal recklessness involving serious bodily injury. In 2014, court records show he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery resulting in bodily injury. At the time the human remains were discovered, Roach was living with his step-father right next door to the blighted home where Aleah was found.
“This [expletive] is crazy because I asked him a long time ago when she went missing,” said Glen Eastwood, Roach’s step-father. “This [expletive] is just so damn weird. It seems like a damn nightmare. I asked him if he did something to help that girl out of that house that he should let me know. His response was kind of weird like, ‘it wouldn’t matter now.'”
Eastwood later added that Roach had been missing for the past couple days and wasn’t returning his phone calls.
Police would not divulge a possible motive.
“I’m not going to pretend that I’ll be able to answer all of those questions this evening but I can assure you that [the detectives] have done everything that they can to chase down any lead that they’ve had,” Hermann said. “This case moved really quickly this week once the body was discovered and once the person of interest was located.”
Detective Brent Melton, the lead investigator assigned to the Aleah case is a longtime, veteran law enforcement officer. He has likely investigated hundreds of cases throughout his 20 plus year career. During the police department’s press conference on Wednesday announcing that Aleah’s remains had been identified, Det. Melton said Aleah Beckerle’s name is one that will never leave him.
To say he and his fellow detectives become emotionally invested would be an understatement.
“This has been eight months of emotions,” Det. Melton said as he choked back tears. “I can’t word it any other way to say that I’m just happy that this poor innocent child — or adult that is a child — has finally gotten justice coming. She’s at rest. It’s an emotional day. That’s all I can really say.”