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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

The True Story that Inspired Dark River Inn

You can also listen to a more in-depth story of the case that inspired Dark River Inn on my True Crime Podcast, Bitter Endings. Listen to Episode 18: The Disappearance of Heather Teague.

On August twenty-sixth, 1995, twenty-three-year-old Heather Teague was sunbathing alone on the beach of the Ohio River in Kentucky. A man on the opposite side of the river, in Indiana, noticed Heather as he was gazing through a telescope. As he watched, a bearded man carrying a gun crept from the woods behind Heather and grabbed her by the hair, dragging her into the woods.

The witness who saw the abduction, contacted police; however, because he was across the Ohio River, and in a different state, there were issues when he called law enforcement. Eventually, investigators made it to the beach, but Heather and her abductor were nowhere in sight. They found the remnants of Heather’s belongings. It was clear that a struggle had occurred.

In the days following Heather’s disappearance, information came in to investigators about a red and white bronco that was spotted in the area near Heather’s car. Another tip emerged linking the Bronco to a man named Marvin “Marty” Dill who lived in the area. Not only did Marty’s driver’s license resemble the composite sketch created by the witness to Heather’s abduction he had a prior record, which included propositioning young women for sex. This on its own does not not a criminal make, but years earlier when his vehicle was searched while he was propositioning women, police found two hand guns, rope and duct tape. He was convicted for this crime, but free at the time of Heather’s disappearance. When police arrived to question him at his mobile home, they found his Bronco hidden in dense brush. Before they could speak with Dill, he committed suicide.

Though police believed they’d found the man who abducted Heather Teague this case was not cut and dry and to this day remains unsolved. Investigators found no forensics evidence linking Dill to Heather except for a single hair in his Bronco, which was not confirmed as Heather’s but resembled hers. Two spots of blood were found in the Bronco. One was not Heather’s and the other was inconclusive. Heather’s body was not found anywhere on Dill’s property.

In the years after Heather’s disappearance, Heather’s mother Sarah became an advocate seeking justice for her daughter. She would eventually sue several police agencies citing negligence in solving Heather’s case as well as to force the police to release Heather’s case file after they refused multiple of her ‘freedom of information act’ requests.

Additional suspects would emerge in Heather’s case including convicted murderer, Christopher Below.

Despite multiple police agencies including the FBI working Heather’s case, the young woman was never seen again.

Dark River Inn was inspired in part by this woman’s story. That being said, Dark River Inn is a work of fiction. The characters, locations, and circumstances are entirely fictional.

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