Boyfriend of murdered Clarksville teenager opens up - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Boyfriend of murdered Clarksville teenager opens up about finding her

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)---"I remember staring at the wall blankly. Couldn't move. I wanted to throw up so bad," says Josh Lewis.

For several days, 21-year-old Josh Lewis says he's been in shock.

He continues to wear the necklace that he gave his fiancée, 17-year-old Tara Willenborg.

"I bought it for our six months," he says.

It's the same one she is seen wearing in a photo her family gave to WDRB.

Josh Lewis says he and Willenborg were happy, and that they never fought or had problems. Although he says he was saving up to buy her a wedding ring in July, he says they were already telling people they were engaged.

On Saturday morning, he says he returned home to his Cambridge Square Apartment in Clarksville 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," he says.

According to a probable cause affidavit released Wednesday, Tara Willenborg had been raped and murdered. There was also bruising on her neck where she was choked to death.

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

"I already knew she was gone. I couldn't stop at that point," Lewis says.

Lewis went to his neighbor's apartment across the hall for help, and says he saw 49-year-old Richard Hooten sitting inside.

Lewis says he and Willenborg had seen him earlier in the day for the first time at their apartment complex, but didn't know him. Josh recalls seeing him after finding Willenborg dead.

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

Police say Hooten raped and murdered Willenborg, then tried to cover up the crime by placing her apron around her neck to make it look like suicide. The affidavit says once Lewis knocked on his neighbor's door, Hooten took off to a nearby vacant gas station and hid out in a bathroom.

The fugitive sex offender has prior convictions dating back to the early 1980's.

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," says Richard Hooten.

Richard Hooten is also facing a charge for "abuse of a corpse", and some details released on Wednesday were too graphic for WDRB to release to the public.

Willenborg's friends and family members say she had just gotten a new job and had only been living at the apartment complex for a couple months. They say Willenborg didn't deserve what happened to her, and the family wants justice.

"We are relieved that the murderer is behind bars where he can't hurt anyone else, but nothing he can say or do will bring Tara back," says Neal Curran.

Prosecutors will decide in the next two weeks whether or not they will seek the death penalty.

LMPD also tells us that their sex crimes unit has been investigating Hooten since January for a crime in Louisville.

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