Southern Indiana man speaks out about girlfriend's murder

Tara Willenborg

A man who found his fiancée murdered at their Indiana home is speaking out.

Police say 17-year-old Tara Willenborg was killed by a convicted sex offender who was a neighbor. She was found at her apartment in Clarksville, Indiana, near Kentucky.

"I remember staring at the wall blankly. Couldn't move. I wanted to throw up so bad," said Josh Lewis, 21.

For several days, Lewis says he's been in shock. On Saturday morning, he returned home to his Cambridge Square apartment to find Willenborg dead inside.

"We always kept the door locked and I thought it was weird when the door was unlocked when I came in," said Lewis.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Tara Willenborg was raped and murdered. There was also bruising on her neck where she was strangled to death.

Lewis found her work apron around her neck, and cut it off before starting CPR.

"I already knew she was gone," he said.

Ne went to his neighbor's apartment for help and saw 49-year-old Richard Hooten sitting inside.

"He didn't look like he should have. It didn't click at first. When I got to thinking back on it, he looked more worried than shocked that it happened," said Lewis.

Police say it was Hooten who raped and murdered Willenborg, before covering it up with the her apron around her neck to make it look like suicide. The fugitive sex offender has prior convictions dating back to the early 1980s.

On Wednesday as he was leaving court, he would only tell the media to talk to him in jail.

"I just told you all. I'll talk to you all when you come down. When you come down I'll talk to you," he said.

The teen's friends and family members are now hoping for justice.

"We are relieved that the murderer is behind bars where he cannot hurt anyone else. But nothing he can say or do will bring Tara back," said Lewis.

Hooten is facing several charges. Prosecutors say they will decide in the next two weeks whether to pursue the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Lewis wears the necklace that he gave to Willenborg for their six-month anniversary - the same one she is wearing in photographs that Lewis now treasures as he tries to cope with his loss.