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?

31 comments:

  1. So sad. Why are people so insane? It definitely sounds like the same man. And I'd like to think that solved Heather's murderer as well.

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    1. I think (not 100% sure) that her parents still say it's unsolved...so the police probably would have told them if they even suspect that it was the same guy. Maybe I have too much faith in the police, though! Seems they'd investigate even if the guy who may have committed her murder died in jail.

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  2. Such a terribly sad story. I hope it was the same guy so that he got caught.

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    1. I do, too! The cases sound similar, but different...in the latter case, the woman was sexually assaulted, so I'm not sure...

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  3. Hi Stephanie - gosh I sincerely hope the police checked - but we'll never know will we ... what a ghastly story line - why are people so cruel - cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/t-is-for-turkey.html

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    1. There are so many ghastly stories. But fortunately, the "bad people" are outnumbered by good people!

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  4. I don't understand... so he murdered them for video recording equipment? It doesn't sound like the profile of a serial killer, so was it really for the equipment? I know that stuff was worth a lot more money in the 90s, but wouldn't it also be really traceable, especially with taking out ads in the newspaper and everything? Find it really hard to swallow that the police couldn't track this guy down, especially when it seems like he did the exact same thing again a couple of years later.

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    1. Apparently not!!! I'm not sure the second case was the same guy...but the second guy was caught and imprisoned. I'm not sure what the protocol was for placing a newspaper ad in the 90s. It's possible you could have given a fake name? But wouldn't they need a credit card #? I don't know. It's also highly possible the police just didn't pursue it as they should have. If he did kill them for the high-end equipment and he's not the same guy as the other Tom, I'm going to assume he did it again and was caught.

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    2. I know this family well although I never met heather because she was murdered before I came along. I can tell you this is a wonderful family of educators as parents, she was the baby out 6 children. I have thought about this Johnson guy too, there was a woman and man arguing in the room prior to them coming back to hotel. This Johnson guys wife is still around and I think worth looking into.

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  5. People are just crazy. So sad. Like you, I'd like to think it was the same guy. Horrible to think of the people who get away with things like this and get to go on living their lives.

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    1. It always scares me to hear cases where the perp was never found. There are a LOT of cases like that.

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  6. That's terrible. I hope that it was the same guy. That would mean one less person who finds it acceptable to beat people to death is walking the streets.

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    1. Scary that we have to say "one less person" because we know there are still others out there who find that acceptable!

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  7. I'm with everyone else who thinks there are too many crazy folks and too many crazy crimes.

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  8. How horrible. I do think they might be linked. It sounds like a similar MO.

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  9. It does sound as if the two cases are connected.

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  10. These cases do seem to be connected. Horrifying!

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  11. Stories like this make me not want to trust anyone. What makes some people so cruel? I don't understand them. Sad stories, both of them.

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  12. I wouldn't be surprised that it is the same person and wish they would cross reference any DNA evidence if they have it. This just sounds like a ruse to kill couples and he escalated when he raped the other girl. Even if he is not the same person, I am glad he is dead. I feel so bad for the first boy who. You knew. It seemed like he almost was to have died initially but Death spared him ..only for a short while.

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  13. I suppose it could have been the same person......probably not.

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  14. Why is the world so scary and horrible sometimes? Now that I have a child, I often dwell too much on all the bad things that could happen. All I can say is my kid won't play outside by himself until he's a teenager, lol!

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  15. Wow, that's interesting. I hope it was the same guy. What a horrible crime!

    T is for the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis

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  16. So sorry this happened. Glad that evil man is gone from this world.

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  17. I do hope they resolved the earlier case with his arrest.

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  18. Could be related, but there are a lot of cases of people assaulted or killed because of transactions via everything from newspaper ads to Craig's List so not sure. The first woman wasn't sexually assaulted, either. What a world!

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  19. Such a sad tale! Two of them actually, and my guess is they are related, killer one and the same.

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  20. Oh man that is gut wrenching.
    Jeremy's life was short and sad. 'The good they die young.'

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  21. Lets hope the police pursued every avenue into his being guilty of all the murders before he died.

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  22. This is so sad!!! Jeremy went through so much and died young! And, all those other people! Terrible! Brutal!

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  23. It certainly sounds like the same M.O., so I hope it was the same guy and that his suicide ended the pattern. But what a stupid thing to commit murder for. So sad and pointless.

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