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Georgia teen with autism chokes mom to death, drags body out of camera view as dad watches on home security video

When authorities asked him where his mother was, he told them she was 'in the woods' – where he had buried her body
UPDATED AUG 24, 2020
Garett Behlau (Chattanooga Police)
Garett Behlau (Chattanooga Police)

RINGGOLD, GEORGIA: A 19-year-old autistic man whose father caught him in home security footage strangling his mother to death was arrested Wednesday. According to a news release by Chattanooga Police, authorities responded to a home in the Waterhaven subdivision located along South Chickamauga Creek at around 2.30 pm on Wednesday.

Hamilton County court records state that the 911 caller told police dispatch he was at least eight hours away from his home but had just reviewed security footage that showed his son Garrett Behlau strangle his mother Theresa Behlau "until she was lifeless." The caller said he even saw his son drag his 54-year-old mother's body out of the security camera's view, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press reported.

Upon arrival at the residence, officers found Garrett sitting on the floor in his bedroom. When they asked him where his mother was, he told them she was "in the woods," per the criminal affidavit. Authorities subsequently initiated a search in the woods and found Theresa Behlau's lifeless body with her head covered in Saran wrap.

The devastated father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sent investigators the security footage, which corroborated the claims he made during the 911 call. The videos reportedly show the suspect attempting to clean up the crime scene with paper towels, according to authorities who watched the footage.

Garrett was arrested shortly after on charges of "criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence," Chattanooga Police said. While he was given a $300,000 bond and his first court appearance slated for August 25, he was reportedly bonded out on Thursday.

Neighbors told News Channel 9 that Garrett lived with autism. “It’s hard to think about because they tried everything they could to help their son, and it didn’t work, and it’s partly because the mental health system in this country is awful,” one nearby resident told the station. “It’s awful.”

Anyone with related information about the crime is urged to call the homicide tip line at 423-643-5100 or can submit an anonymous tip via Chattanooga Police department's mobile app.

Earlier this month, we reported on another disturbing crime in Tennessee. A couple faced first-degree murder charges after luring a homeless woman into their home, physically and sexually assaulting her before strangling her to death, police revealed. 

The couple — 22-year-old Rebecca Dishman and 52-year-old Sean Finnegan — raped, beat up, and tortured a homeless woman after which they dismembered her body, cutting her nose and breasts off, Metro reported. The two were arrested on August 5 for torturing and murdering the victim, who is believed to be 36 years old. It was reported that Dishman and Finnegan had falsely lured the woman with the promise of a place to stay in December 2019. 

Once the victim moved into the couple's home, they held her against her will and beat her using a baseball bat. Court papers have revealed how the couple had restrained the woman using a dog collar, chained her to the bed, and bound her arms using zip ties. They then proceeded to rape the woman many times. 

Court documents also reveal how the victim was given no medical care, strangled with a ligature, and left to die. Investigators added that after the victim was dead, the couple "physically mistreated a corpse in such a way as to be shocking and offensive."