On August 26, 1995, Heather Teague was sunbathing at Newburgh Beach in Kentucky. While she relaxed, a man was watching her from across the Ohio River using a telescope. At 12:45 p.m., he saw a man approach Heather through his telescope. He then saw the man grab Heather by her hair and force her into the nearby woods at gunpoint. She has never been seen again.
- About Heather Teague
- August 26, 1995
- The Investigation Begins
- Sarah Teague’s Search for Her Daughter Heather
- Bones Discovered
- Heather Teague’s Case Today
- Final Thoughts
About Heather Teague
Heather’s family and friends described her as very bright. She was a cheerleader while she was in high school, and went to college with big goals to become possibly a doctor. But at some point, things started going wrong for Heather. She dropped out of college and moved back in with her mother Sarah Teague.
Heather struggled with drug problems and often acted unpredictably. In fact, two weeks before she was abducted, she had been reported missing to the Kentucky State Police (KSP). She was found a few days later. When asked about her whereabouts, she told the officers she had simply been “running around.”
August 26, 1995
On a sun-soaked day, August 26, 1995, Heather Teague was basking in the warmth of the sun at Newburgh Beach in Henderson County, Kentucky, located on the shores of the Ohio River. It was a hot day and the sound of the waves provided the perfect backdrop for relaxation.
Her red bikini top was undone to avoid tan lines. But unknown to Heather, she was being watched while she was working on her tan.
From a distance across the Ohio River, Tim Walthall was watching the beach through the lens of a telescope. Some sources describe Tim as a bird watcher while others say he was a peeping tom. I’m not sure what the truth is, but regardless he was watching Heather that day.
At 12:45 p.m., Tim Walthall witnessed an unsettling scene. A man slowly made his way toward the unsuspecting Heather.
The stranger, without hesitation, seized Heather by her hair. He forced her at gunpoint into the dense woods flanking the shores of Newburgh Beach.
Tim Walthall, probably panicking, dialed 911, believing he was doing the right thing. But unfortunately he soon realized that the emergency number he called was specific to Indiana.
Tim ended the call and then reached out to the Kentucky State Police to report what he had seen.
Also of note is that Tim didn’t call right away. Some reports say that he waited 45 minutes. But in the FBI case file, he contacted police and was upset about the reports of the delay, and that he had called right away.
Tim was able to give a description of the man he saw through his telescope. He was roughly 6 feet tall, weighing somewhere between 210 to 230 pounds. His thick, brown hair matched the dense, bushy beard that covered most of his face.
While shorts clung to his legs, he was shirtless. He was also wearing a wig, with a mosquito net wrapped around his head, possibly to disguise his true identity during the abduction.
As the day turned to evening, local authorities scoured the beach and woods, and Heather’s bikini bottom was found at the edge of the woods. While they also stumbled upon more evidence, none of it led to new leads.
The Investigation Begins
The Search for Heather Teague
The initial hours and days after Heather’s abduction were frenzied. The local community, united in grief and shock, rallied together, offering any assistance they could to the law enforcement agencies. With every passing day, the intensity of the investigation grew.
Authorities conducted door-to-door interviews, hoping to find anyone who might have seen something or heard an unusual sound. Divers combed the depths of the nearby water bodies while search parties scoured the neighboring woods and areas of interest.
Tips flooded in, leading to numerous leads, but many turned out to be dead ends. The media too played its part, making sure that Heather’s face was in everyone’s mind, hoping that someone, somewhere, would come forward with that one crucial piece of information that could lead to finding Heather.
Tim Walthall had also told the police that 15-20 people were on the beach when Heather was dragged into the woods, which makes you wonder how no one else had seen anything. Some reports say that there may have been 500 people on that beach that day.
Three days into the search, the police used a team of search dogs to look for Heather. These dogs managed to pick up her scent and led the officers to the wooded area. But the trail stopped abruptly, and the scent vanished, suggesting to the investigators that Heather might have been forced into a car and driven off.
A Video Recording Leads to a New Clue
Around the same time, a promising lead emerged. A videographer reported to the police that he had recorded footage of Heather driving to the beach that day.
Why was he filming? Some local residents in Henderson County, a primarily rural area, were facing issues with people damaging their crops on their way to the beach. To catch these culprits, farmers hired this videographer to film the passing cars.
On the day Heather vanished, not only did he capture her arriving at the beach, but he also inadvertently recorded more. While prepping to leave, he placed his camera on his car’s dashboard without switching it off.
This resulted in capturing a red Ford Bronco with a shiny luggage rack heading toward the beach. While the footage wasn’t crystal clear and details about the driver were obscured, it was the first good lead the police had.
The Composite Sketches
Kentucky State Police released two composite sketches, each based on accounts from separate witnesses. One sketch was based on Tim Walthall’s description, and a second witness came forward a few days after Heather’s disappearance.
This witness reported seeing someone resembling Heather in the passenger seat of a red Chevette around 2:30 to 3:00 on the day she vanished. The woman in the car seemed to be resisting the male driver, indicating a struggle.
Both sketches portray the man from different perspectives-one is a close-up frontal view, and the other is from a distance from a different angle. The close-up shows a man who appears to be in his thirties with short dark hair, a pronounced round nose, and a full beard.
The second, more distant sketch, has some similarities but has subtle differences like longer hair, a fuller beard, and a slightly more defined nose.
Things began to move quickly now. After releasing the sketches, the police received numerous tips pointing toward a potential key suspect.
A Drug Ring?
I’m going to start with what I consider the least likely theory-the drug ring/prostitution theory. I would prefer to call this sex work, but I’m not sure that Heather was involved willingly, and that’s what the reporting calls it.
The FBI file in Heather’s case indicates a possibility of her involvement with the shady world of drugs and prostitution. In 2012 post surfaced on a message board. An anonymous user claimed that Heather’s body would never be discovered and that her abduction was tied to an underground network involved in pornography and drug trafficking.
Theories like this, combined with rumors of widespread public corruption, paint a picture of a young woman possibly trapped in a web much larger and more treacherous than anyone could have imagined.
Was Heather, perhaps inadvertently, a witness to something she shouldn’t have seen? Or was she just an innocent caught in others’ shady schemes?
Also adding to the mystery is the thought that Heather might have been sold off to settle debts or for sex trafficking.
I’m not outright dismissing this theory. It could very well be the truth,. But when we look at all the available evidence and information, this particular idea doesn’t stand out as the strongest. Other theories seem to have more solid evidence backing them up. So, while it’s worth considering every angle, I’m not sure about this one.
Marvin Ray “Marty” Dill
After the police released the two composite sketches of Heather’s abductor, they received tips that a man named Marvin Ray “Marty” Dill matched the sketches.
After the KSP looked into Marty, it was clear that he wasn’t new to the legal system. In fact, over the years leading up to Heather’s disappearance, he had accrued quite the criminal record.
Two years earlier, he’d been taken into custody after repeatedly calling a woman, insisting on speaking to her boyfriend, despite being fully aware that her boyfriend had passed away. These continuous calls soon took a disturbing turn and became explicitly inappropriate. Afterward, he was arrested and later admitted guilt to a charge related to phone harassment.
And there was another alarming incident from that same year. In Evansville, Indiana, he was reportedly seen cruising around, attempting to sexually solicit minors.
All of these crimes are troubling, and besides having a criminal record, Marty also owned a red Ford Bronco.
During a routine traffic check, police pulled over Marty, who was driving the red Ford Bronco. This vehicle matched the description of the vehicle a witness recalled seeing parked next to Heather’s car at Newburgh Beach on the day she vanished.
When the authorities inspected Marty’s Bronco, they found several concerning items. Among them was a strand of hair that looked like it could be Heather’s, guns, two knives, a roll of duct tape, rubber gloves, and rope.
And the inside of the truck’s tailgate revealed bloodstains. Plus when compared to the composite sketch of the suspect believed to be involved in Heather’s abduction, Marty’s features matched eerily well. I mean the similarity is uncanny.
Given all of these troubling details, the Kentucky State Police knew that they needed to interview him. They decided to pay a visit to his trailer, where he lived with his wife and son. Did I mention that Marty Dill only lived 20ish miles from Newburgh Beach? Because that seems relevant.
When the authorities arrive at Marty’s place, he’s not there. But his wife Tracy is, and she told detectives some potentially crucial information. She confirmed that Marvin does indeed drive a red Bronco, just like the one mentioned, equipped with a chrome luggage rack.
Tracy also mentioned that Marvin’s appearance matched with what Tim had described earlier. But she pointed out a difference: Marty usually keeps his hair shorter than what’s shown in the sketches the police have.
That same day, the police received another phone call, this time from Tracy’s attorney William Polk. William shared his concerns about Marty’s mental health. He said that after Marty found out that state troopers had visited his home, he was extremely upset.
Tracy told William the lawyer that Marty had told her to leave the house and said that if law enforcement ever tried to approach him, he would take his own life. William also mentioned that Marty had hidden his Bronco in the woods behind their property.
With this new information, it’s not long before the police secure a search warrant for Marty’s residence. In the early hours of September 1, 1995, the police showed up at Marty’s home to execute the warrant. But because of the suicide threats that Marty made if the police showed up, one of Marvin’s close friends volunteered to enter the home first, hoping to defuse the situation and convince Marvin to come out peacefully.
But not long after the friend goes inside, a single gunshot rang out. The friend rushed out of the house in a panic, confirming everyone’s worst fears: Marty was dead. On the surface, this might seem like an admission of guilt.
The investigators found the red Bronco and immediately brought in the FBI, hoping to extract as much evidence as possible. Given the vast expanse of Marty’s property, which was about 28 acres, they also enlisted the assistance of cadaver dogs to thoroughly comb through the land. They found nothing.
Days went by, but there was no sign of Heather. The officers, unwilling to leave any stone unturned, expanded their search to other places where Marty frequently went hunting. Unfortunately, these locations also didn’t provide any new leads or evidence.
The discovery of the Bronco had initially raised hopes, making it seem as though they were on the brink of a breakthrough. But the absence of Heather from his property left the case as puzzling as ever.
All of this seems to make this seem like an open-and-shut case. Not so fast. According to Heather’s mother’s attorney, Marty was bald leading up to the abduction. This could mean that either Marty is innocent or that he was the getaway driver for the person who snatched Heather Teague from the beach.
This all makes sense to me, but don’t forget that Tim Walthall said the attacker was wearing a wig, so isn’t it possible that it could have been Marty?
Christopher Below, A Possible Serial Killer
Years passed with no solid leads in Heather’s case, but in 2004 a new tip reached the Kentucky police, suggesting a potential connection with a suspected serial killer who had been living in Kentucky around the time of Heather’s disappearance. An investigator from Ohio reached out to the Kentucky State Police with new information.
This investigator had been watching a truck driver named Chris Below since 2000. Chris had been on their radar since 1991 as a key suspect in the murder of a woman named Kathern Fetzer in Medina, Ohio. This tip warmed this cold case back up.
Christopher Below was from Henderson, Kentucky, the same county that Heather vanished from. Not only that but he confessed guilt in relation to the 1991 death of Kathern Fetzer. Despite her body remaining undiscovered, Chris confessed to shooting her, leading to his conviction of attempted involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 11 to 18 years behind bars.
And Chris is suspected to be responsible for three other women-the disappearances of Mary Kushto, Shaylene Farrell, and Kristina Porco. Detectives believe that Chris may have targeted women who looked like Kathern Fetzer. This theory may be true, especially when you consider the striking physical similarities between Heather and Kathern. Both women had long dark hair and shared petite statures, standing around 5’0 and weighing approximately 100 pounds.
At the time Heather vanished, Chris was reported to be near Newburgh Beach when Heather was abducted. But he left Kentucky right after her disappearance on the same day Marty Dill took his own life. It’s possible that Chris and Marty worked together although it’s unclear who was the abductor and who was the getaway driver.
But the sole witness to Heather’s kidnapping, Tim Walthall, was firm that Marty was the man he saw on the beach and not Chris, law enforcement has said that they possess circumstantial evidence that might connect Chris to Heather’s case.
Unfortunately, the KSP didn’t have any conclusive evidence linking him to Heather’s abduction and he has never been charged.
Sarah Teague’s Search for Her Daughter Heather
Sarah Teague, Heather’s mom, strongly believed that Chris was a more probable suspect than Marty, and I largely agree. She believes that the Kentucky State Police, from the outset, was set on the idea that Marty Dill was Heather’s abductor, and this fixation meant other potential suspects weren’t examined as closely.
This focus can create tunnel vision and that’s a very bad thing to have in an investigation because when you’re focused on one suspect you build the evidence to fit your theory. In a good investigation, the evidence leads you to the suspect. Not the other way around.
To find her daughter, dead or alive, Sarah made numerous open record requests, including the 911 call made by Tim. But with the case still officially open, her attempts were met with resistance.
Years went by, and Sarah’s search seemed to be met with more walls than answers. But in 2007, a tiny piece of information was released: the exact time of Tim’s 911 call. But the actual call’s recording remained a secret.
This information was not satisfying for Sarah, so she kept advocating for her daughter, and rightly so. By keeping the pressure on, she hoped the investigation would gain momentum.
Later in 2007, Sarah took a heart-wrenching step: she had Heather legally declared dead. Her hope was that this move would provide access to more information about the case.
In 2008, a search dog group sent a bloodhound and handler to search areas connected to Heather, including the road leading to Marty’s property. The dogs hit 13 times on the road leading to the Dill house.
For obvious reasons, Sarah tried to get a search warrant for Marty and Tracy’s property. But Tracy, Marty’s wife, was still living there. She said over and over that she wanted no involvement with the investigation or with Sarah, so the warrant was denied.
In 2012, Heather received a copy of Heather’s FBI file, heavily redacted of course, via the Freedom of Information Act.
The next year, Sarah took legal action, filing a civil lawsuit against both the Kentucky State Police and the Henderson Police Department. She believed that there were inconsistencies in their investigation.
Sarah alleged misconduct by the police during the 1995 investigation. She questioned many things in the investigation, like the initial 911 call, the sketch of the suspect, and the DNA results from two blood spots.
One of her major points of contention was the suspect’s sketch. According to Sarah, it bore a striking resemblance to Marty Dill’s driver’s license photo. She suggested it was an almost exact match, right down to certain details like shading. This led her to believe that the police might have intentionally tailored the sketch to resemble Marvin, possibly to pin the crime on him from the beginning.
I tried to find a copy of Marty’s ID but was unsuccessful. It’s in the FBI file, but it’s so grainy, you can’t make out Marty’s face. It looks like a copy of a copy of a copy.
In the end, a judge dismissed Sarah’s lawsuit, saying that it lacked merit. Despite the lawsuit, the Kentucky state police emphasized their continued dedication to the case, re-examining old leads and diligently assessing any new information they received.
In October 2021, a woman out hunting for arrowheads stumbled upon skeletal remains. She quickly informed the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. These remains were unearthed at the point where the Green River flows into the Ohio River.
However, for those holding onto hope that these remains might shed light on the disappearance of Heather Teague, this turned out to be a major disappointment. The remains weren’t Heather’s. After comparing dental records, the coroner confirmed that the bones weren’t connected to Heather.
It must be so difficult to be in her family and friends’ positions. Do you want the remains to be Heather and finally have closure, or do you hope that it’s not Heather and that she’s alive somewhere?
Heather Teague’s Case Today
As of this writing, Heather Teague’s case is still unsolved, and most people and authorities suspect foul play based on the circumstances surrounding her abduction.
It’s been nearly three decades since Heather Teague mysteriously vanished, and her loved ones are still searching for answers. Despite the years that have passed, Sarah is determined to uncover the truth about her daughter’s fate.
No mother should have to endure the agony of losing a child without knowing why or how. Sarah is committed to seeking out the truth, holding onto hope that one day, justice will be achieved for Heather.
If you have any clues or details regarding Heather’s case, please reach out to the Kentucky State Police at 270-826-3312. Or you can contact Heather’s mother, Sarah Teague, at 270-824-8343.
This is one of the most difficult cases to research that I’ve covered so far. There’s so much evidence and moving pieces, and the information isn’t that easy to find. I’m sure that I’ve left some things out.
But what do I think? I personally believe that Chris Below and Marty Dill worked together. I’m not sure how exactly but there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence linking both of them to the crime.
One thing that I do know is that Sarah Teague deserves the truth about what happened to her daughter. And I hope that one day she will get that.