CLARKSVILLE, IN – Police say 49-year-old Richard Hooten, a fugitive sex offender, is suspected of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Tara Willenborg over the weekend.
Willenborg’s body was found by her boyfriend early Saturday morning inside the Clarksville apartment the couple shared. She had been raped and died from asphyxiation. According to prosecutor Steven Smith, Willenborg suffered a ‘horrible death’.
Willenborg’s father said his daughter had attended Jeffersonville High School where she was a member of the cross country team. She’d recently earned her G.E.D. and had just moved into the apartment with her boyfriend in January. She would have turned 18 next Sunday.
Police would arrest Hooten on unrelated charges after seeing him wandering around outside near the apartment.
“Officers found him walking. He sort of fit the description and at that time they asked for his identity and ran a background check and noticed he had outstanding warrants,” said Darrell Rayborn with the Clarksville Police Department.
The warrant was issued because Hooten had failed to register as a sex offender. Turns out he has quite the criminal history including rape, sexual battery and sodomy charges in both Indiana and Georgia dating back to 1993. Now he has been charged with murder, rape, criminal deviant conduct, sexual confinement and strangulation.
Police do not believe Hooten and Willenborg knew each other, but that Hooten had an acquaintance who lived across the hall from the teen and had just waited for an opportunity to attack.
As he entered the courtroom on Monday to face the judge, Hooten mouthed the words “I’m sorry” when asked if he had anything to say to Willenborg’s family.
My views regarding the death penalty have changed over the years, but not in regards to people like Hooten. If they’d let me, I’d put a bullet in the son-of-a-bitch’s head myself and not lose one iota of sleep.