Man charged in 25-year-old Mishawaka murder case - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Man charged in 25-year-old Mishawaka murder case

Phillip Geans (Courtesy St. Joseph County Sheriff's Dept.) Phillip Geans (Courtesy St. Joseph County Sheriff's Dept.)
Photo of Theresa Burns Photo of Theresa Burns
Theresa Burns home at the time of her death Theresa Burns home at the time of her death

Police say they have arrested a suspect in a 25-year-old murder case.  Metro Homicide says Phillip Geans is charged with the 1988 murder of Theresa Burns.

On January 11, 1988 Theresa's brother found her lying on the floor of her home with multiple gunshot wounds to the head.  Burns was a sophomore at Mishawaka High School.

Geans was 18-years-old at the time of Burns' death.  Police say Geans knew Burns and that she was a friend of his then girlfriend.

Officers interviewed hundreds of people about her death. Court documents reveal police connected Geans to Burns' death with a handgun.

According to the documents, a piece of a revolver was found at the scene of the murder. Later, police say Geans' stepfather turned in a revolver to Mishawaka Police, eventually telling police they found the gun in Geans' bed. Court documents say two experts determined the gun was the one used to kill Burns.

During an interview, court documents say Geans admitted to possessing the gun. Documents say he also told detectives he had dreams that he killed Burns.

Documents say investigators found Geans has spoken to a number of people about the murder and handgun, including telling people he had killed Burns.  The documents say at a party Geans he attempted to sell a .22 caliber handgun, telling people it had a "major crime on it."  At another party when a crime stoppers commercial about Burns' murder came on TV Geans said he killed her.  And on two other occasions Geans told people he should kill them "just like he killed Theresa Burns."

Back in 2002 FOX28 spoke to Burns' mother, Kathy Pennington, then she told us her goal was to bring news of an arrest to her daughter's gravesite.  "one day your mom's gonna come here and tell you they got em."

Unfortunately Theresa's mom passed away in 2010.  Her father died this past March.  Friday Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett said, "they weren't able to be alive to see what happened, but I'm sure they're watching now."

Geans Friday arrest is bittersweet for the investigators, like Craig Whitfield, who worked so hard to solve the case for Theresa and her family.  "They become your friends and you want the best for the case and for the families and you want to bring closure for them," said Whitfield.


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