On May 18th, 2017, Spanish teacher Theresa Lockhart failed to show up for work. Her husband reported her missing that day and told authorities that he’s last seen his wife at 10 pm the night before. For the next five months, police and family would search for the woman. The truth about her disappearance would take months to come to light and end in tragedy.
Theresa Joan Huyge was born March 8th, 1973, in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Theresa was a dedicated student and eventually received a double master’s degree from Western Michigan University in both education and Spanish. She was working towards her doctorate degree in Spanish when she disappeared. She enjoyed running, hiking, teaching Zumba, volunteering at the Humane Society, and teaching her students.
Theresa married Christopher Lockhart in 2007 after meeting online. Christopher Lockhart was born in South Carolina on May 21st, 1970. He was the father of two children from a previous relationship. He and Theresa had no children together. Chris worked as Pfizer Pharmaceutical company in Portage, Michigan. The couple lived in Portage and enjoyed an active lifestyle. Although there had been some rough patches in the Lockhart marriage, everyone was shocked when Theresa disappeared.
Three weeks after Theresa disappeared, police finally searched the woman’s home. Police had, at this point, identified that Christopher Lockhart was a person of interest. They learned he had been drinking excessively in the months prior to her disappearance and had been arrested for DUI. After three weeks of being missing, no phone activity or credit card transactions indicated where Theresa might be. Police were beginning to suspect that she was no longer alive.
Despite the search, police found nothing to indicate where Theresa was or evidence of a struggle in the couple’s home. Police had learned that in 2016 Chris lost his mother and began drinking heavily and battling severe depression. He had pushed Theresa away as his mental and physical health spiraled out of control. Theresa, who had her own anxiety and mental health issues, eventually admitted herself into a mental health facility.
After returning home, Theresa was ready to make their marriage work. Chris, however, was still severely depressed and dependent on alcohol at this point. Theresa suspected he was having an affair and found evidence of such on his phone. Chris moved out of the couple’s home for a while, but eventually moved back. The two began to work on their marriage once again. Many family members and friends suspected Chris although Theresa had kept their personal and marriage problems very private.
Once police announced that Chris Lockhart was a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, he went on the defensive. “For police to say I’m a person of interest – there’s nothing. I feel like I’m being victimized” he told a local news station (People, 2017). Chris indicated that his wife had mental health issues and that her recent admission to the psychiatric unit indicated she may have had a mental breakdown and took off. Chris told authorities that Theresa was planning to resign from her teaching position and told him the night before she disappeared that she “needed to get help” (People, 2017).
Police told a different story. They said Christopher was reluctant to talk to them and uncooperative with the investigation. He refused to allow police to search the home until a search warrant was obtained three weeks after the disappearance. Chris’s problems continued after Theresa disappeared as he was arrested four more times in the following months. He was arrested for cutting the internet and air conditioning cables in his neighbor’s yard and DUI. He then was arrested for tampering with his electronic monitoring device that he was required to wear after he tampered with his neighbor’s lines. Despite their suspicions, police could not prove anything bad had happened to Theresa or that Chris was responsible for her disappearance.
On October 24th, 2017, officers decided to do a wellness check on Chris Lockhart. His monitoring device has failed to show any movement for thirty hours. Police were suspicious that he may have tampered with it once again. However, they found Christopher Lockhart dead in his basement from an apparent suicide by hanging. Then they found his suicide note.
In the note, Christopher Lockhart admitted to killing his wife five months earlier following a fight in their home. He said that they argued and he “just snapped”. He drew a map to where police could find his wife’s remains in a wilderness area about fifty miles away. He expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness for his crime.
Investigators located Theresa Lockharts remains in a shallow grave exactly where Chris had indicated in his suicide note. After five months, the remains were badly decomposed but were positively confirmed to be that of Theresa. She was forty-four at the time of her death. Her husband and murderer was forty-seven at the time of his death.
This is a story of tragic domestic violence, mental illness, alcohol abuse and dependence, and unmanaged personal grief. One can only guess if the outcome would have been different had Chris sought grief counseling or mental health care following the death of his mother and his own depression. While this wasn’t the outcome her family had hoped for, may they find peace in knowing what happened and being able to properly bury Theresa.
The Times Herald (2017) Body discovered as husband of missing teacher found dead. 26 Oct 2017