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Cold Cases

Re: Cold Cases

Postby Buck Wheat » Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:37 pm

BobbyBeetleMishawaka wrote:Does anyone have more background info on Geans? Is he a "bad apple" local kid?

If Buck remembers correctly, Geans was shot in the chest 5 or 6 years ago while visiting a "house of ill repute" on South St. Joseph Street (near Calvert). A skilled ER trauma surgeon saved his pathetic life.

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Re: Cold Cases

Postby Happy Mom » Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:15 am

Geans has left a trail of arrests

Accused of Mishawaka teen's 1988 death


Phillip Geans

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2013 6:06 am | Updated: 7:37 am, Sun Dec 22, 2013.

By Madeline Buckley South Bend Tribune |

MISHAWAKA -- Phillip Geans and his girlfriend stepped into a Burton's Laundry almost weekly, washing clothes and often fighting until the manager told them she would kick them out if they didn't stop.

Besides his contentious relationship with his girlfriend, Geans seemed normal to Janet Brock, manager of the Lincoln Way West laundromat. He was another regular she knew only by first name.

But Brock's cousin was Theresa Burns, the Mishawaka High sophomore Geans is accused of shooting to death 25 years ago.

Burns' death on Jan. 11, 1988, scarred Brock, like it did the rest of her family, and puzzled her for decades.

Unbeknownst to her, the man police would accuse has been coming to her laundromat regularly.

"This whole time (the suspect) was the guy I kept telling to be nicer to his girlfriend," Brock said. "It was a big shock but a great relief."

Before his arrest last week, Geans lived in a multitenant building around the corner from the Burton's Laundry, on Strathmoore Avenue, a quiet street in Mishawaka.

Neighbors mostly shrugged when asked about him, saying they know nothing about him.

While the 16-year-old's shooting death remained a mystery in the community, Geans, 43, lived a life peppered with arrests, both in the South Bend and Mishawaka area and in Florida.

Police allege Geans, 18 at the time, shot Burns when she came home from school in the middle of the day. He was an acquaintance of hers, charging documents say.

Filled with relief at the arrest, friends of Burns' say they vaguely recall Geans as someone known around Mishawaka High School.

In and out of jail

In the 25 years since Burns' death, if Geans worked for a living, police couldn't say what he did. Geans' family declined to be interviewed.

St. Joseph County Jail records show police arrested Geans at least 15 times, including the murder arrest, since 1990.

Throughout the years, he listed a handful of addresses on police reports related to his arrests, mostly for battery, domestic violence and public intoxication. On some of the reports, though, he was listed as homeless.

Court records show prosecutors charged Geans in 10 misdemeanor cases and three felony cases since 1990. He has one pending operating while intoxicated case.

The misdemeanor cases, ranging from theft, battery, several instances of domestic violence and public intoxication, ended with a mixed bag of results, some cases resulted with probation, others dismissed or resolved with not guilty findings.

As for felonies, a battery charge in 2003 was dismissed, but a judge in 2008 sentenced Geans to two years in prison after a jury convicted him of spitting in the face of a police officer.

Geans also faced a jury in 2010 after prosecutors charged him with battery with a deadly weapon, a felony, as well as an intimidation charge. The jury, however, found him not guilty.

In that case, a 79-year-old man accused Geans of pistol-whipping him in the face several times, and pointing the gun at his head and threatening to kill him. A police report said Geans was a live-in caretaker for the man.

Geans apparently spent time in Ocala, Fla., where he also has a criminal history.

Records show arrests throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, for robbery, battery, trespassing at a school and driving under the influence. Most of Geans' arrests in St. Joseph County occurred throughout the 2000s.

No prison plea

After St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller sentenced Geans to two years in prison, he launched in 2009 several appeals, seeking to be held in Madison Center instead.

In the petition, denied by Woodward Miller, Geans said he needed hospital treatment instead of prison, referencing a host of problems.

He wrote that he suffered a brain injury at one point, resulting in a disability. He also said he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as bipolar disorder and dementia. He wrote that he has no support from his family.

He references a "random shooting" that seriously injured him in 2007. Tribune archives indicate Geans was shot in South Bend. Police never made an arrest.

Westville Correctional Facility noted as he neared release that he is medicated for ADHD and bipolar disorder.

The review said he drank alcohol frequently and used marijuana and cocaine before his incarceration.

He completed only 10th grade and has trouble controlling his temper, according to the review. It recommended anger management classes, and workshops like "coping with stress."

Geans was released from prison to the supervision of the elderly man who would later accuse him of pistol-whipping him.

'A face to it'

After police arrested Geans, Carrie Jones, a childhood friend of Burns', stopped by her grave.

"I could touch her stone and say, 'There's a face to it now,'" Jones said.

The unsolved slaying has nagged at Jones for years.

Burns was a friend to her at a time when Jones had just come to Mishawaka schools and had no friends there. Her life at home was plagued with hostility, Jones said.

But Burns sat with her every day at lunch and played with her at recess.

"She took me under her wing, and she made me feel safe again," Jones said. "She taught me how to laugh even when life was beating me up."

Jones said she has always wondered whose face Burns saw on her last day.

The arrest of Geans came as a surprise to Jones. She considered him a distant acquaintance.

"When I realized (the suspect) was one of our peers in our age group, that shocked me," Jones said. "I never pictured a kid our age."

Stefanie Scott, Burns' biology lab partner, said the terror students felt at not knowing the identity of the killer resulted in a rash of accusations. Students were wary on the bus. They were fearful traveling home.

Burns was a beloved, happy student, Scott said, the type of girl everyone wanted as a lab partner.

Heidi Shanafelt was a family friend who as a teenager lived near the Burns' home on Dittman Street and was a baby sitter for Burns.

She called Burns a shy, big-hearted child who loved unicorns.

Now, Shanafelt said, she feels closure that someone is charged with murder.

"My whole body just wanted to collapse," she said.

574-235-6337 ... f6878.html
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Re: Cold Cases

Postby st michael jr » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:27 pm

He's nothing but the scum at the bottom on the toilet. Hope he is convicted and rots in hell
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Re: Cold Cases

Postby Happy Mom » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:03 pm

CRIMESTOPPERS Investigators seek help on 1988 cold case murder

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013 6:49 am

Seventy-year-old Phyllis Eckert left her home at Village Green in Mishawaka about 2 a.m. Feb. 1, 1988, to walk her dog. A witness in the area heard a shot fired, and soon afterward found Eckert's body lying on 12th Street near Byrkit.

Homicide investigators are working on this cold case and believe it can be solved. Ideally, investigators want to hear directly from people with information about this murder. If you are reluctant to come forward and want to stay anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers.

Some tipsters choose later to waive their anonymity and speak with investigators. Crime Stoppers will still pay a cash reward if the information leads to a felony arrest.

If you have information on the murder of Eckert, Crime Stoppers wants to hear from you. Also, if you have information on any felony crime or fugitive and contact Crime Stoppers, you could earn a cash reward if your information leads to an arrest.

Crime Stoppers is a donor-funded program that serves 12 counties in Michiana. You can contact Crime Stoppers about any felony crime or fugitive.

Submit an anonymous tip by clicking on the link at, or the same link on the Facebook page. Crime Stoppers has no way of knowing where the link was accessed. You also can use the free Tip Submit Mobile app on your smartphone, which also is completely anonymous.

Of course, you can still call Crime Stoppers at 800-342-STOP or 574-288-STOP. Crime Stoppers does not have caller ID and will not ask your name. All tips will be assigned a code number, which serves as your only identification with Crime Stoppers.

You also can follow Crime Stoppers on Twitter @Michiana CrimeX. ... f6878.html
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Re: Cold Cases

Postby Happy Mom » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:58 am

Police describe shooting scene in Geans murder trial

Photo provided

Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 6:00 am | Updated: 6:01 am, Wed Sep 23, 2015.
By Landa Bagley South Bend Tribune

Steve Burns seemed slightly shaken as he testified Tuesday at the trial of Phillip Geans — the man accused of fatally shooting Burns’ 16-year-old sister in their Mishawaka home 27 years ago.
Burns was the one who discovered the body of his sister, Theresa Burns, when he came home from work shortly after 5 p.m. on Jan. 11, 1988.
Though he noticed his sister was lying face down on the dark-colored carpet in the living room, he first answered the phone that was ringing. He assumed his sister was just pranking him — just pretending to be passed out.
But after a 20- or 30-second phone conversation with his little brother, he went back to his sister.
“I nudged her leg and said, ‘Game’s over. Quit playing. Get up,' and she didn’t move,” Steve Burns said, noting that he then knelt down near her body.
“As I rolled her over, there was a big bubble of blood coming from her face. I had seen that her face was smashed, messed up,” Steve Burns said, pausing then grimacing and looking down for a moment. “I started to panic.”

Though it took a long time, authorities charged Geans, 45, of Mishawaka, in December 2013 with the murder of Theresa Burns. Before Geans’ arrest, the case had gone cold.
Steve Burns’ testimony Tuesday afternoon differed somewhat from the testimony of Mishawaka police officer Matt Weber, who interviewed Burns at the crime scene.
“He said he thought maybe she had been drinking or doing drugs because she was hanging out with some shady characters at school,” said Weber, citing his interview with Steve Burns at the crime scene.
In charging documents, prosecutors claimed that Geans, 18 at the time of the fatal shooting, rang the doorbell at Burns’ home around 11:30 a.m. Jan. 11 and was permitted to enter by Theresa. While inside the home, Geans allegedly shot Burns with a .22 caliber revolver.
Theresa Burns, a Mishawaka sophomore, reportedly left school mid-morning that day, and went home from school to change her clothes. Her best friend, Susan Rathwick testified Monday that her friend was planning to return to school that day. Rathwick also testified that she had previously dated Geans so Theresa knew who he was.
Under a coffee table, not too far from Burns’ body inside the house, police found an ejector rod from a low-caliber revolver during the initial investigation.
Two police investigators testified about how they found the rod and secured the evidence.
Through cross-examinations of these two witnesses, defense attorney Mari Duerring pointed out that the ejector rod was not included in police crime scene photos or scene diagrams.
Officer Mike Thompson, a detective sergeant with Mishawaka police in 1988, took photographs and video at the scene. Thompson testified that he wasn’t alerted about the ejector rod until he was on his way out and after his imaging gear was packed away. The ejector rod was collected and processed as evidence from the scene.
On Feb. 9, 1988, Geans’ stepfather, Lester Snider, gave police a .22 caliber revolver he said Geans' mother found in their home, according to the charging documents. The revolver was missing an ejector rod.
Lynda Snider, Geans’ mother, testified Tuesday that she found the revolver under a mattress in one of the bedrooms at her home and gave it to her husband to take to police. “I don’t like guns in the house,” she said.
But she was unable to recall whether she found it in the bedroom in which the defendant slept.
Additional testimony is expected to be heard Wednesday in the courtroom of St. Joseph County Superior Court Judge Jerome Freese. ... ae8a8.html
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Re: Cold Cases

Postby Happy Mom » Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:37 pm ... s/36806210
Crosses given to family of Theresa Burns and investigators
Author: James Fillmore

Many are calling it a find gesture. It happened during sentencing for Philip Geans. The convicted murderer's stepfather gave out crosses to honor Theresa Burns.

Many are calling it a find gesture. It happened during sentencing for Philip Geans. The convicted murderer's stepfather gave out crosses to honor Theresa Burns.

Theresa's grave is in the Fairview Cemetery in Mishawaka. You can usually find flowers or other decorations near her headstone. Now, there's a cross with Theresa's name on it.

Steven Burns is Theresa's brother and he says, "It was meant to be here. It was meant for here and for us to bring it out here so that other people can see."

They're all different too.

Burns says, "As bad as I feel as well for his parents knowing they have to go through this they're feeling the same thing for us."

Craig Whitfield was the lead detective in the case. He got to know Geans' family as well as he did Theresa's.

In response to the crosses he says, 'It's just one more interesting thing about this case and it is appreciated a lot."
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Re: Cold Cases

Postby Happy Mom » Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:43 pm

Phillip Geans: 'Sure hope they get the person who shot that girl'
Author: Kelli Stopczynski
Published On: Dec 04 2015 07:41:51 AM CST

Phillip Geans testified Friday he "loved Theresa Burns" and the person who shot the Mishawaka High School teenager in 1988 is "still roaming the streets." But that didn't stop a judge from giving Geans the maximum 60 year sentence for Burns' death.

During the sentencing hearing, Theresa Burns' stepmother, Bernadette Burns, testified about a mental breakdown Theresa's father had after the murder.

Theresa's brother Steve - who found Theresa dead in their home - said he still has "a trust issue" with everyone he meets.

Geans' father, Lester Snider, told the Burns family he's sorry and hopes they can forgive.

"I just want the family to cherish their memory and have closure," Snider said after court.

To help with that closure, Snider made wooden crosses for lead detective Craig Whitfield, Homicide commander Tim Corbett and Theresa Burns' family. He presented the crosses to them in court.

When asked about Geans' continued effort to maintain his innocence and if Snider thinks his stepson is innocent, he replied, "I don't know. I'm not so sure Phillip knows. We have prayed about it and we decided that when the jury came back with a decision that it would be God's decision. So I'll stand on that, I guess."

"That's one of the things I wanted to ask [Geans,]" said Theresa's brother Steve Burns to reporters after court. "I wanted him to be a man for once in his life. Once in his life I wanted him to look at us and tell us he did it because he knows he did."

"It's hard to forgive someone who won't admit to what they've done," Bernadette said after the hearing. "I'm OK with the fact that he can't do it to anybody else."

In court, St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jerome Frese said Theresa's murder was, "...a crime of extreme anger, hostility and an attack on the very personhood of the victim."

It's also a crime that changed the fabric of Mishawaka.

"After Theresa was killed, the first thing my dad did was change the locks and actually get the keys," Cotter said, remembering he was in law school when Theresa was brutally shot six times in the head and face on January 11, 1988. "[Before that,] we would go on vacation and leave the house unlocked. Everybody took a step back. And it's not Mayberry anymore after Theresa's death."

"It was truly justified that he got the max of 60 years," Steve Burns said. "When you hear about his history, all the trouble that Phil Geans has gotten in, it only made sense and the judge got it right."

Cotter said it's still not enough.

"Taking someone's life, you can't put a number on it," he added.

On his way out of the courtroom, Geans said, "Sure hope they get the person who shot that girl."

Corbett responded, "We did."

The Metro Homicide Commander later said, "Enjoy your 60 years. Merry Christmas."

The judge ordered a full psychological evaluation on Geans once he's in the Indiana Department of Corrections. Geans claimed he has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, head traumas from car accidents and other health issues.

Geans is 45 years old. He'll likely be out of prison by the time he's 71, if not sooner, because of day for day credit and time served awaiting trial - making his actual time in prison closer to 26 years. ... r/36793684
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