Dream Engagement Turned Nightmare

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A Dream Engagement Turned Nightmare

 “You think you’re in love with someone, and you want to believe her. Now I look back, and I don’t believe anything she told me.”

Don Huckstep thought he’d found true love in his small hometown of Fowler, Indiana. But when Teri Deneka mysteriously vanished from his life, the disappearance foreshadowed a bizarre—and grisly—series of discoveries that left Huckstep, police, and another man’s family with more questions than answers.

Every now and then, Don Huckstep wonders how the heck it happened. How did a normal, everyday guy from Indiana get caught up in a bizarre, made-for-TV drama? Mostly, though, he tries to forget.

Where to start? Maybe near the end, right before everything unravelled. In the summer of 2014, Don was on a roll. At age 57, he had a nice home in Lafayette, a job he loved in sales and marketing, and a fiancee he adored named Teri Deneka. The couple was planning a trip to Italy for an early honeymoon, after which they’d return home to say I do.

To Don, it seemed the getaway couldn’t come soon enough for Teri. She had been under a lot of stress for months. Her 68-year-old mother, Nena Metoyer, had leukemia, and in August she came up from Florida to stay in Teri’s home in the small town of Fowler, Indiana, so Teri could care for her. But Nena’s condition worsened. Teri told Don she was taking her mother to visit family in Chicago. On September 11, Teri texted him. “My mom past [sic] last night,” she wrote. “I don’t want to talk right now. I just wanted you to know. As soon as they release her, I’m taking her to Florida. I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

Don barely heard from his fiancee over the next several days, receiving just a few brief texts, which included a cryptic apology. “It’s just a hard time for me and I really don’t want to talk to anyone but I do love you,” Teri wrote. Don tried to give her space. They had talked about death before. Neither handled it well. He understood her need to be alone.

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