Teen laid to rest as disturbing details about her murder are rev - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Teen laid to rest as disturbing details about her murder are revealed

Posted: Updated:
Tara Willenborg Tara Willenborg
Richard Hooten walking out of court on March 6. Richard Hooten walking out of court on March 6.
Tara's funeral was held at St. Luke's United Church of Christ in Clarksville. Tara's funeral was held at St. Luke's United Church of Christ in Clarksville.
Tara's uncle, Neal Curran, made a statement on behalf of the family after Tara's funeral. Tara's uncle, Neal Curran, made a statement on behalf of the family after Tara's funeral.

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Disturbing details in the brutal killing of a Clarksville teenager were revealed on Wednesday as the victim was laid to rest. It happened as the suspect, a convicted sex offender, went before a judge to be formally charged with girl's rape and murder.

Richard Hooten, 49, admitted to police in a probable cause affidavit that when he saw 17-year-old Tara Willenborg on Friday night, he knew he was going to rape her.

"He should never see the light of day," said Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart. 

Willenborg was found dead early Saturday morning at the Cambridge Square Apartments where she lived with her fiance. He discovered Willenborg's body when he got home from work.

Hooten occasionally stayed at the Cambridge Square Apartments because his girlfriend lives across the hall from Willenborg's apartment.

According to court documents, Hooten told police that he went to a nearby bar called RoJo's at America's Best Inn with his girlfriend and some of her family members Friday night. Police say Hooten told them he left the bar early because he didn't feel like drinking. Police said, when Hooten arrived at the apartment complex, he saw Willenborg sitting on the stoop of her apartment and asked if he could hang out with her. Willenborg agreed and the two went inside to watch TV. Hooten told police that shortly after that, he forced himself on Willenborg and raped and choked her.

The documents state that Hooten told police once he saw Willenborg wasn't breathing, he tried to perform CPR, realized she was dead, and tried to make it look like a suicide by tying Willenborg's Subway apron around her neck. Willenborg had worked at a Clarksville Subway restaurant for a short time.

They were sad revelation for Willenborg's family on the day of her funeral.

"Our hearts are broken and our lives will never be the same," said Willenborg's uncle, Neal Curran. "We're relieved that the murderer is behind bars where it can not hurt anyone else but, nothing he could say or do will bring Tara back. Our hearts can't yet imagine a future without her. Tara was our baby and always will be."    

Hooten told the court that he only has an 8th grade education. The prosecutor is exploring the option of the death penalty. Hooten is being held without bond and will be appointed a public defender.  

LMPD's sex crimes unit is investigating a separate case from earlier this year in which Hooten is a suspect.

Prosecutors say they're not taking the death penalty off the table and fully expect a trial to start by August.

"In the history of the state of Indiana, there's only been one or two people plead guilty to a death sentence, if that is later filed," said Prosecutor Steve Stewart.

Willenborg's family says they are taking things one day at a time.

"We do not want to focus on the horrible way Tara died, but on the beautiful life she lived. She brought kindness, humor, and peace wherever she went. We are going to miss her smile, her curls, and her cupcakes," Curran said.

Copyright 2013 WAVE News. All rights reserved.