Tara Sue Huffman and Christopher Meyer were murdered over a decade apart by Timothy Buss – Shattered retells their tragic story.
May 21, 1981, in Kankakee County, Illinois, and 5-year-old Tara Sue Huffman walked down to the neighbor’s house to play with her friend. But when her brother went looking for her, she was nowhere to be found. The family began calling round the local area and neighbors soon arranged a search party, though they initially suspected she’d just gotten lost.
Sadly the searchers soon discovered Tara’s body and an examination revealed she’d been brutally beaten to death and sexually assaulted with a wooden rod.
It turned out the boy who’d found her was actually her killer, and even more shockingly, he was just 13-year-old. Timothy Buss was tried as an adult and found guilty of murdering Tara, with the court sentencing him to 25 years in prison.
14 years later, in the same area, and 10-year-old Christopher Meyer was late home and his mother really began to worry when he’d not shown up by dinner time. She began a search and spoke with some children he was fishing with, who told her Christopher had left an hour before.
She returned home and tried not to panic, but as time passed she knew that something wasn’t right. When the sun started to go down, she called the police and reported her son missing.
There was no sign of Christopher overnight and the search intensified as family and police became increasingly concerned for his welfare.
The next day police discovered Christopher’s bike in some undergrowth and asked his mother to come down to examine it and some other items they had found. She was able to identify his shoe, which had been found in the river and the search took a much darker turn.
However, it was not until a week later that police found the body of a child in the woods that they soon identified as Christopher. He’d been sexually mutilated and stabbed over 50 times.
A break in the case came when a composite sketch of the man last seen with Christopher was prepared with the help of witnesses. The sketch was widely circulated in the media and remarkably Tara’s brother, Richard Huffman, recognised the face of Timothy Buss. He contacted police right away and they began to investigate whether he could be in the area.
It turned out that Buss had been released two years before and police immediately identified him as a person of interest. They found him fishing down by the river and brought him in for questioning. A search of his vehicle revealed blood stains and hairs that were later identified as belonging to Christopher.
However, in 2003 as part of a change in policy the state commuted his death sentence to life in prison.
The murders prompted a re-examination of the way convicted sex offenders have to register when moving into new areas.
Shattered – River of Sorrow airs at 10:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.