Was Lisa the victim of a deadly love triangle or mentally ill neighbour?
Seth and Lisa Techel had been married for just seven months. She was five months pregnant with a daughter they’d already named Zoey Maria.
But on Saturday 26 May 2012, police received an emergency call from Seth in Agency, Iowa. Hysterical, he explained he’d been in the shower when he heard a shot. He came out to find mum-to-be Lisa, 23, bleeding in their bed.
Neither Lisa nor her unborn baby survived. Rumours spread about what had happened…
Lisa worked at the Washington County Jail and was also a reserve deputy for the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office. Meanwhile, Seth a security guard and volunteer firefighter, had recently become a prison officer. Could this have made them a target?
Then, a shotgun was found in the garden. It belonged to a former roommate of the couple. He’d left it at the house roughly a week earlier.
Another neighbour told officers about local disputes, and mentioned a couple of grumpy or mentally troubled residents.
Yet it was Seth who was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy.
It was revealed that Seth had been having an affair – that he was trapped in a love triangle.
Seth denied the charges, and in February 2013, the case came to court. But the jury failed to reach a verdict and it was declared a mistrial.
In October 2013, a second trial began. But the jury reached a deadlock again. Finally, in July 2014, Seth Techel was tried for a third time.
His lawyers said police officers had rushed to judgement after discovering Seth was exchanging sexual text messages with a colleague.
His defence claimed Lisa was most likely killed by a mentally ill neighbour, with whom they’d had a long-running feud. The neighbour had since died.
They said the night before Lisa died, the couple had used a foetal monitor to listen to their baby’s heartbeat, excited about the future.
The jury heard a recorded interview with Seth in which he said he’d got up at 5am for a shower, while his wife said she was going to doze. He’d let their dog out and got into the shower. Then he’d ‘heard the blast’ and ran to check on Lisa. She’d been still breathing.
When he later ‘ripped off the sheet’ his wife was sleeping under, he saw the bullet hole in her left side. She no longer had a pulse.
It seemed mum-to-be Lisa had been having an affair too, with a colleague. It had ended a month before her death. Maybe Lisa’s jilted lover had sought bloody revenge?
But prosecutors insisted Seth had killed his wife, then showered away the evidence. So was Seth really responsible for the cold-blooded killing of the mother of his child?