JEFFERSONVILLE — In what Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden called a first for him, an inmate requested and was granted a press conference to confess to the rape and murder of a Clarksville teenager.
Richard Carley Hooten, 49, talked with area media Thursday morning from a conference room in the sheriff’s department. Hooten remained calm as he was questioned for nearly 15 minutes during the press conference.
Hooten had already admitted to Clarksville police that he entered the Cambridge Square Apartments unit of 17-year-old Tara Willenborg in the waning minutes of Friday, March 1, and raped and strangled the young woman as she pleaded with him to stop. Her body was discovered in the apartment by her fiance in the early morning hours of March 2. Hooten has been charged in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 and faces several felonies, including murder.
Rodden said in his seven years of serving as sheriff, he has never had an inmate request to speak with reporters. Hooten sat at the end of a long table, dressed in a jail-issued orange jumpsuit.
“I don’t know,” was Hooten’s response when asked why he committed the violent acts.
He was asked what message he would like to give to Willenborg’s family if given the opportunity.
“I am just sorry what happened, just wish I could take it back,” Hooten replied.
Hooten said he had left Rojos bar at America’s Best Inn near Eastern Boulevard on March 1 and walked back to Cambridge Square Apartments where he found Willenborg sitting outside on the stoop of the building, where she and Hooten were living in separate apartments.
Hooten said he “just lost it,” after returning to the apartment complex, but according to his statements to police, he never acted out of a sudden rage.
He talked his way into Willenborg’s apartment, and even watched television with the girl for several minutes before he started to forcibly kiss her, though she refused his advances. He subsequently raped and fatally strangled her. Following a medical examination, it was determined Willenborg died from asphyxiation/suffocation.