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Teresita Basa: The victim who spoke from her grave
There always comes a time when we question the existence of ghosts, spirits and life after death. The questions have remained long since anyone can remember, and they are still unsolved with supporters from both sides having their piece to say. But what if solving a murder depends on whether or not you believe in the existence of life after death. How easy would solving crimes become if the murdered victims could talk back from their grave and point a finger at those who killed them. But is it possible? Would you believe in something like this? But this is exactly how the murderer of Teresita Basa, a 47-year-old respiratory therapist of Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, was found. Now, how much of this story is true and how much is made up depends on what parts of the incident you actually believe.
This is how the story goes… Teresita Basa, a native of Philippines, was found stabbed in her apartment on 21st of February, 1977. Her apartment was later set on fire. The firefighters who went to her house found her body beneath the mattress of her bed with a butcher knife stuck to her abdomen. This was one of the cruellest homicides the city had ever seen and the responsibility of solving this case went to detective Joe Stachula. But due to a lack of evidence and resources in the police department, the case joined hundreds of others in the shelves of cold cases, and soon people started to move on.
But this period of silence was short-lived. After a few months, Remy Chua, a friend and co-worker of Teresita Basa who was also from Philippines started having visions and dreams, and also suffered from blackouts. Her husband who was with her during these blackouts described these episodes as possession where his wife seemed not to be herself anymore. She claimed to be the spirit of her dead friend, Teresita Basa. And during these episodes, the friend of the victim, possessed by the spirit of said victim went on to reveal the details of that fateful night.
She told the story exactly as she saw in her vision. In this vision, Teresita Basa revealed the murderer to be Allan Showery, who was later found out to be a hospital orderly who worked in the same hospital as her. She begged her friend to go to the police and tell them about her story. She then revealed that Showery came to her house on that night under the guise of a television repairman. As soon as she let him inside, he turned around and stabbed her with a butcher knife, and left her there to die setting the apartment on fire to get rid of any evidence.
The account and its source itself was nothing to go on by, but the detective in charge of the investigation followed on with the details provided by Remy Chou and met up with the person she was referring to. He was able to retrieve the jewellery that Allan Showery had stolen from Basa and gave to his girlfriend. On seeing the jewellery Showery broke down and confessed. Even though the source of the information was questionable, the details were spot on. The perpetrator had been found, but something really important was still missing – conviction in court.
While it was true that Showery had confessed to the murder, he changed his plea to not guilty when he found out that the source of information was the ghost of the victim. The case with only her account couldn’t have stood in court, but the stolen jewellery recovered from his girlfriend and the confession given by Showery himself cemented the conviction. Allan Showery was sentenced to a prison term of 14 years on 23rd of February, 1979, of which he only served five years. While one couldn’t always agree that it was enough for such a horrible crime as this, it was at the very least, something compared to the murderer walking free and the case being buried among other dusty cold cases.
This was the first and the only time that the account of a ghost was taken as a witness account. This is interesting since this was the only time that the witness account in a homicide includes an account by the victim of the crime. This story of this case was developed into several books and documentaries, and has also been featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
While sceptics claim that the friend knew all along who the murderer was and the possession was only her acting, we can never be sure. As long as there is no proof of the existence or the non-existence of spirits and ghosts, one has to choose what they believe.