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Theresa Lockhart’s Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

December 14, 2020
4 min read
Image Credit: NBC News

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Til Death Do Us Part,’ according to the channel’s most recent press release, “is a series of love stories twisted by rage, of passion soured by obsession, and of joy ravaged by paranoia. Each episode, illustrated through split-screen archive and originally shot material, follows a pair of star-crossed lovers as they embark on a relationship that will end in homicide, seeing that murder like true love is written in the stars.” So, of course, its most recent episode, Season 2 Episode 5, ‘Five Months of Hell,’ chronicling the disappearance and slaying of Theresa Lockhart, is no different. And if you’re here for all the details of her case, you’ve come to the right place.

How Did Theresa Lockhart Die?

Image Credit: Facebook

Theresa Lockhart, a 44-year-old high school Spanish teacher from Portage, Michigan, was last seen alive on May 18, 2017, leaving a fitness center she frequented. Subsequently, after she failed to show up for work for two consecutive days without any prior notice, one of her colleagues, Schoolcraft Community Schools Superintendent Rusty Stitt, reported her missing. Theresa’s empty vehicle was then located at a park-and-ride lot about five miles from her Poplar Bluff Court home. And her husband, Christopher Lockhart, admittedly the last person to see her alive, told officers that Theresa had left their home at about 10 p.m. on May 18. He hadn’t reported her missing when she didn’t return by the next morning on purpose, he claimed, as she had run away before as well.

A thorough area-wide search for Theresa was conducted nonetheless as many people close to her refused to believe that she would have run away without any rhyme or reason, even if Chris claimed that she suffered from anxiety. The Portage Department of Public Safety, along with the Michigan State Police and the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, administered four searches, which included the use of cadaver dogs as well as aerial support. Ultimately, though, it was only a confession that led them to Theresa, well, to her remains. She was recovered from a shallow grave near a marsh in Allegan Game Park on October 24. Her passing was ruled as a homicide, but medical examiners could not determine a specific cause of death because of the severe decomposition.

Who Killed Theresa Lockhart?

Not even a month after the fact, on June 2, 2017, the Portage Department of Public Safety announced that it was investigating Theresa Lockhart’s disappearance as a possible homicide. They named Christopher as their primary and only person of interest. “The key elements of [the case] – the complete void of ‘proof of life’ for the duration of the time, the lack of communication input, and the lack of cooperation by the spouse, has refocused us,” Senior Deputy Chief John Blue said in a press conference. He further explained that Chris had no involvement in any efforts to find his wife, and he never even attempted to follow-up with the investigators to get the details of her case.

Then, they found out that Chris had been charged and arrested for domestic violence in November of the previous year. In his sentencing, he had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assault and battery, completed 10 hours of community service, and had ultimately had the conviction dismissed. As part of the police’s homicide investigations, in the following months, they searched the Lockharts’ house on a few occasions, served Chris with various search warrants, and even went through his space and belongings once more in early October. But their breakthrough only came on October 24, when they responded to a call to his home after Chris missed a check-in with his probation officer.

Chris had been charged with four different counts unrelated to his wife’s disappearance, avoiding a jail sentence for each one of them by pleading guilty. But once he missed his parole meeting and his electronic device revealed no movements for 30 hours, police officers went to check-in on him, only to find him dead in his basement. Chris had killed himself and left a confession to Theresa’s murder, with a hand-drawn map to the exact location of her body. In the suicide note, he had expressed remorse, asked for forgiveness, and explained that he just “snapped” and killed his wife after the two argued on the evening of May 18. His words suggested that he choked the life out of Theresa.

Read More: How Did Christopher Lockhart Die?

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