Man charged in '88 killing of Mishawaka H.S. student


St. Joseph Co., Ind. St. Joseph County Metro Homicide announced Friday afternoon that Phillip Geans has been charged in the 1988 killing of Theresa Burns.

Burns was a Mishawaka High School student who left school in Jan. 1988 to change clothes. She was supposed to return, but never did.

Hours later, Burns' family found her dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Police found the ejector rod of a .22 caliber gun a few feet from Burns' body.

Some time after that, Geans' parents came into the Mishawaka Police Department with a .22 gun. They said they found it in Phillip's bed and didn't want him to have it because it would only cause trouble.

Police discovered the gun had no ejector rod.

Two experts tested the weapon and determined it was the gun used to kill Burns.

Police also interviewed Geans' step sister, who told them Geans burned her with a hot curling iron because he thought she took the gun. He threatened to kill her if she didn't return it. She didn't know why Geans was so upset about the missing weapon.

Charging documents indicate Geans also spoke of the murder and the gun with several people. At one point, he tried to sell it, but told people the gun had a "major crime on it." At another party, a CrimeStoppers commercial about Burns' murder came on and Geans stated he killed her.

All of the evidence against Geans recently came together, leading police to charge and arrest him Friday afternoon. They say Geans was arrested while walking near the intersection of Ironwood and Lincolnway, not far from where he lives.

Geans is being held in the St. Joseph County jail without bond on a charge of murder.

It's not his first run-in with the law. Geans has been arrested four times in Florida since 2000. Those charges ranged from domestic battery, to carrying a concealed weapon and DUI charges.

His first court appearance is Monday.


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