Monday, April 24, 2017

Mystery Monday: Heather Uffelman

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

When you love true crime, as I do, you'll find you're often asked if you have any hometown crime stories. My own hometown was relatively boring. However, I do have a crime story that comes a little too close to home. This story takes us back to the early 90s, when I was in college here:

Jeremy Rolfs managed the student TV station, complete with nightly newscasts and original programming. I won't say our broadcasts were anything you'd want to watch...they were on the amateurish side. But Jeremy was a talented supergenius who kept things running smoothly.

Jeremy Rolfs

In my senior year, Jeremy fell in love with another student who worked at the station. Her name was Heather Uffelman and she was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. They soon were engaged.

Heather Uffelman

In September of 1992, Jeremy was working for a Nashville music video company when he was asked to deliver some equipment to a man named Tom Johnson. Tom had responded to an ad and wanted Jeremy to meet him at a Knights Inn in Marietta, Georgia so that he could purchase it.

Jeremy and Heather arrived at the motel at 7:30. Tom said his partner hadn't shown up yet with the check, so Jeremy and Heather went to breakfast. When they returned at 8 a.m., the business partner still wasn't on site, so Tom suggested they load the equipment in his car. Afterward, they stood in his hotel room, chitchatting for a while, before Tom suddenly pulled out a gun.

Composite of Tom Johnson via Unsolved Mysteries

After forcing them to roll themselves in bedsheets, Tom beat the two of them with a hammer before cleaning the dresser in case there were fingerprints. He ran from the room, leaving the two for dead. 

Heather died from her injuries, but Jeremy survived. After an appearance on Unsolved Mysteries where his identity was concealed, he joined the Peace Corps. Sadly, in 1997, Jeremy died in a car accident in South Africa. The other driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Heather's murder was never solved. However, less than two years later, a couple was vacationing in Nashville when the wife was approached by a man offering to help the husband land a record deal. Kellie and Robb Phillips apparently fell for the ruse because later, when he showed up at their hotel room, they let him in. 

Robb and Kellie Phillips

He tied Robb up, beat him to death, then sexually assaulted Kellie and beat her to death, as well. His name? TOM Steeples. His occupation? He owned a computer company in Nashville. The equipment he was buying from Jeremy and Heather the day he assaulted them? A computer. 

Tom Steeples was arrested for Robb and Kellie's murder and later committed suicide in jail. I'd like to believe the police checked for connections with Heather and Jeremy's case. What do you think?