Some unsolved mysteries center around the perpetrator of a grisly crime. Unsolved murders, bizarre disappearances, and the like populate true crime blogs. One unsolved case, though, is something of an outlier. Teresita Basa was murdered in 1977 by Allan Showery. How, exactly, police came to know this is another mystery entirely.
An age-old question faces the human race: what happens to us after we die? Religions purport to know the answers, and mystics and psychics of all stripes offer comforting words that they claim originate from beyond the grave. Realists and scientists counter that there is no verifiable evidence of an afterlife or anything more than the material world. In truth, metaphysical questions and science are just incompatible: by definition, you can’t measure the ineffable, whether or not it exists.
But, strangely enough, investigators looking into Teresita’s murder in 1977 were supposedly aided by a voice from beyond the grave. A woman who claimed to be haunted by Teresita’s ghost helped police identify a suspect. The resulting investigation and trial led to a guilty plea and jail time for the killer. So, what really happened during the investigation?
Teresita Basa was a respiratory technician who worked for a hospital in Chicago in the 1970s. She was originally from the Philippines and had been living in the US for about a decade at the time of her death. She worked at Edgewater Hospital and lived a quiet life, according to her friends. She was described as a music-loving and soft-spoken woman.
Teresita was well-educated and kept to herself, investigators later learned. However, in February 1977, she met with a terrible fate. Police responded to a call from her apartment complex. A neighbor smelled a fire and saw smoke coming from Teresita’s apartment. First responders broke down the door and rushed in to help, finding her mattress ablaze. The fire was only the beginning of their worries, though.
After dousing the blazing bedsheets, investigators made a gruesome discovery. Teresita was under the mattress with a knife plunged deep into her chest. She’d been undressed, and all of her jewelry had been removed. Police swiftly swept her apartment for any clues. The murder weapon was still at the scene, and the perpetrator tried to cover their tracks by burning the apartment down. The search was on.
Case Goes Cold
Sadly, even with the murder weapon on hand, police had few leads to go on. None of Teresita’s neighbors reported seeing anything suspicious on the day of the murder. Teresita left only one cryptic piece of evidence: her final journal entry included a short to-do list with the phrase “get tickets for A.S.”
Police asked Teresita’s friends if she had any enemies, outstanding loans, or connections to organized crime. Unsurprisingly, the answer was no: she was a middle-aged hospital worker who kept to herself and liked listening to music in her apartment. She wasn’t a gambler who needed to borrow money from criminal organizations. After a thorough investigation, the police were at a loss. Teresita’s case could have ended the way half of all murder cases in the US do: unsolved.
In the pre-internet era, it was notably harder for law enforcement to track leads. Without CCTV footage, cell phone location data, and advanced forensics techniques, the amount of evidence required to bring in a murder suspect was simply much higher. Thankfully for the police, they were about to get a massive break in Teresita’s case: a psychic connection from beyond the grave.
A Small Medium at Large
Six months passed after Teresita’s murder, but in August 1977, a couple came forward with a bizarre story. Dr. Jose Chua contacted Chicago police to tell them about his wife’s recent visions. Remy Chau worked at the same hospital as Teresita and had been recently plagued with nightmares about Teresita’s death. She reported seeing a menacing face in dreams that showed Teresita in a locker room.
What’s more, Remy knew the face from her visions. It was Allan Showery, a coworker of hers and Teresita’s at the Edgewater Hospital. Jose told police that Remy had started “channeling” Teresita and conversing with him as though she was the murdered woman. While speaking Tagalog, Teresita’s first language, Remy explained that “her” killer was still at large and that she wanted him brought to justice. Remy claimed that Allan Showery, who worked as an orderly and struggled to make ends meet, had killed Teresita after coming to her apartment to help fix her TV.
The police were initially hesitant to act on advice from a psychic. However, Remy was convinced that she saw visions from beyond the grave and that her advice would help the police bring justice to the victim. She was even able to tell the police what happened to the missing jewelry: she saw that Showery had given the jewelry to his wife, Yanka Kalmuk.
The Word of a Ghost?
Lead investigators Joseph Stachula and Lee Epplen surprised the public when they acted on the tip from Remy Chau. “I talk to pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts in the Belmont area,” Detective Stachula would later say in an interview. “Dr. and Mrs. Chua are educated, intelligent people who live in a $90,000 house – a distinct change for me. I wanted information on this murder. I listened and acted on what they told me.”
The police searched Allan Showery’s home and were astonished to find that Yanka was, indeed, wearing a distinctive pearl ring and jade pendant that friends of Teresita’s had confirmed were missing. When pressed, Yanka told the police that Allan had given her the jewelry as “late Christmas presents.” Teresita was murdered in February. This was enough to convince the detectives to arrest Showery, and, to the public’s surprise, he quickly gave a statement confirming that he had killed Teresita.
Showery was struggling financially at the time of the murder. He did odd jobs for Teresita from time to time, and she overpaid him generously as a way to help him out. He apparently grew resentful that she wore such lovely jewelry while his wife had none to speak of, and killed her in a fit of rage before lighting her mattress ablaze to cover up the crime.
Mistrial and Confusion
The highly bizarre investigation made national headlines. Showery later recanted his confession, saying the police threatened his wife and coerced him into admitting to the crime. After the jury couldn’t come to a definitive conclusion, the trial was thrown out and declared a mistrial.
Stranger still, Showery later fully admitted to the crime and pleaded guilty in a follow-up trial. He was sentenced to fourteen years in prison for the murder and never again denied his role in the crime. By all accounts, Allan Showery murdered Teresita Basa, whether or not Remy Chau actually spoke to a ghost. But what really happened in the investigation?
In no uncertain terms, most people don’t believe that Remy could have spoken to a dead woman, something no one else has ever done. Still, Remy knew things she couldn’t have possibly known without using psychic powers, right? Well, let’s look into a few theories as to how this could have happened.
Remy and Allan worked together at the Edgewater Hospital, and some sources suggest that they might not have been the best of friends. Allan reportedly complained about the quality of Remy’s work, and Remy bizarrely didn’t tell the police about her “visions” until after she lost her job at the hospital. This has led some internet investigators to surmise that she might have had a grudge against Showery.
As for the jewelry, which Remy correctly divined was being worn by Yanka, some investigators also have a theory on that front. Remy could have simply noticed that Yanka wore the distinctive jade and pearl jewels her late friend Teresita once wore. Then, she might have started forming a theory about what really happened to Teresita by inferring from the context she already knew.
After all, Remy knew that Allan did odd jobs for Teresita and that he wasn’t the wealthiest man in the world. It’s not a stretch that she could have put this circumstantial evidence together and realized what must have happened. But why would she present these findings to the police as a vision from a ghost instead of just a friend’s intuition?
There’s a chance that Remy Chau believed that she was conversing with a ghost. She lost her close friend and her job in a matter of six months, which would be stressful for anyone. Perhaps after noticing Yanka wearing her friend’s jewelry, she subconsciously solved the mystery and came to terms with the fact that Allan had killed Teresita by interpreting the revelation as a dream.
Whatever the case may be, the headlines wrote themselves. The media attention surrounding the case was immense, and Remy unlikely made things any easier for the prosecution by claiming that a ghost told her who had committed the murder. Still, it makes for a compelling story.