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CPD: Father watches wife's murder on home security camera; Son charged in death

Images: Hamilton Co. Jail / WTVC
Images: Hamilton Co. Jail / WTVC
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UPDATE (Wednesday, August 26th)

For the first time, we are hearing from Garrett Behlau's attorney, Dan Ripper, who spoke to NewsChannel 9's Abby Kirk on the phone Wednesday afternoon.

"At the end of the day here, you have a family that potentially has lost both a son and a mother. That's horrible. no family should ever have to deal with a circumstance like this," Ripper told us.

Ripper added, "The family knows that Garrett has needed help and has taken steps to try and find him that help and was continuing to do so right up until the moment this happened."

Ripper says Garrett Behlau is not out on bond, and plans to remain in custody in the Hamilton County Jail right now, unless he leaves to get medical treatment for his mental health issue.

"I'm looking for what provides Garrett the best opportunity to get the help he needs in the place that he needs to be," Ripper says.

Depend on us to bring you updates on this developing story as we get them.


Chattanooga Police say a 19-year-old Chattanooga man is charged in the strangling death of his mother, and an affidavit obtained by NewsChannel 9 says the man's father watched it all on a security camera from about eight hours away.

Chattanooga Police identify the victim as 54-year-old Theresa (Traci) Behlau. The affidavit says her son, Garrett Behlau, now faces charges in her death. He was taken to Hamilton County Jail.

But neighbors say there’s more to the story than just the police report.

“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. It’s awful,” said neighbor Lissa Dearing.

The affidavit says Garrett Behlau's father reached out to Chattanooga Police at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, telling officers that he saw Garrett strangle his mother on a home security camera, "until she was lifeless."

Then, the father saw Garrett drag his mother's body out of his vision, according to the affidavit. At the time, the father was eight hours away from Chattanooga.

The affidavit says when officers arrived on the scene, they found Garrett sitting on his bedroom floor. Police asked him where his mother was, and he replied she was in the nearby woods, according to the affidavit.

Officers searched the woods, and found Theresa Behlau's body. The affidavit says her head was covered with plastic wrap.

The father told investigators he had recorded clips of his wife's murder. The affidavit says investigators viewed the video, which showed Garrett Behlau strangling his mother until she "appeared lifeless," then dragging her body away, then returning to the scene with paper towels to clean it up.

The affidavit says investigators later found those paper towels in a trash can inside the home.

Garrett Behlau now faces several charges, including criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Tennessee has a statewide mobile crisis team available to anyone. The service is free, available every day of the year, and is provided by Youth Villages in our area. If you know a young person experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471).

We are working to learn more details on this story. Depend on us to bring you updates as we get them.

PREVIOUSLY (Wednesday):

Chattanooga Police tell us their homicide investigators were called to a home Wednesday afternoon.

Police responded to a gated community on the 2600 block of Waterhaven Drive.

CPD spokeswoman Elisa Myzal told us that no one was shot, and that an investigation is underway.

We sent our crew to the scene to learn more, but as of Wednesday night details remain limited.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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