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Murder of Theresa Burns by Phillip Geans featured on The Last 24

Theresa Burns photo
Theresa Burns was murdered by Phillip Geans at her home in Mishawaka, Indiana. Pic credit: Family

The murder of 16-year-old Theresa Burns by Phillip Geans is featured on The Last 24 on Investigation Discovery.

On January 11, 1988, Burns’ brother found her dead inside their home in Mishawaka, Indiana. She was partially nude and had been raped and then shot in the head and face six times with a .22 caliber revolver.

The clothes that Burns was wearing at the time she was murdered were sent to the lab for testing, but there were no traces of skin cells or seminal fluids, which led to her murder case turning cold.

Twenty-five years later, in December 2013, St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit reopened the case and conducted an investigation that led to Geans’ arrest.

Several of his former friends were interviewed and subpoenaed to testify in court, including his ex-girlfriend who testified that when she was dating him, he would constantly talk about Burns, including the murder. He confessed to killing the Mishawaka High School student, and that he used a stolen gun to shoot her.

His friend, Thomas Doty, told detectives that Geans became angry with Burns because he thought she was cheating on him, even though they weren’t a couple.

James Lewis, who was Geans best friend, stated that Geans was at a party playing Russian Roulette when he admitted to killing her. He said, “Yeah, I killed her. What the f*** does it matter?”

Before that, Lewis told police that Geans said he was going to be a suspect in Burns’ murder because he had a .22 revolver, which was found in Geans’ bedroom by his mother. His stepfather turned it over to the police.

Gun experts said the bullets found in Burns’ body were from the gun Geans had stolen from his friend’s grandmother.

In 2015, Geans was sentenced to 60 years in prison for murdering Burns when he was 17. With good behavior, he could be released in 26 years.

The Last 24 — Mayhem On His Mind, airs at 11 pm on Investigation Discovery.

Angelica N. Sumter is a freelance journalist who has covered true crime for more than 10 years. In addition to Monsters and Critics, her work... read more
Angelica N. Sumter


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