By GARY POPP
CLARKSVILLE — A 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in her Cambridge Square Apartments home in Clarksville early Saturday morning, and the man suspected of killing her is behind bars.
Clarksville Police Department Maj. Darrell Rayborn said Tara R. Willenborg was found dead in a bedroom of her home after a 911 call was made about 3:20 a.m.
Rayborn said Willenborg was initially discovered dead by her boyfriend, who shares the apartment at 720 Camden Court. The boyfriend was not at the residence at the time of the fatal act, Rayborn said, but placed the 911 call after he had returned home from work.
A description of the suspected killer was provided to police from an undisclosed source, Rayborn said, and police located Richard Carley Hooten walking along Eastern Boulevard, about a mile from the apartment complex, about 8 a.m. and made the arrest.
“There were neighbors who knew of him [Hooten] and gave us the first name, but that was all we had when we started,” Rayborn said.
Officers then canvassed the area and found Hooten walking.
“We found him on the street,” Rayborn said. “We were just looking in the area, hoping that he might still be around. We knew we had left on foot.”
Rayborn said police investigation revealed Hooten has previously resided in Clark County, Louisville and Georgia.
“Where his actual home address is now, I do not know,” Rayborn said, adding that he did not know Hooten to have recently resided in Cambridge Square Apartments.
Rayborn said Willenborg and Hooten knew one another.
“They were acquaintances,” he said. “I think they had just met recently.”
He also said there were no sign of forced entry into the home.
While police said they could not discuss if any sexual abuse occurred prior to the killing, Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart said he will issue sexual assault charges.
“We have been working closely with the Clarksville police,” Stewart said of the Office of the Clark County Prosecutor. “Obviously, this girl suffered a horrible death. In addition to a murder charge, we certainly anticipate charges of rape and/or criminal deviate conduct.”
Stewart said formal charges will be prepared Monday.
Rayborn said only Willenborg and her boyfriend lived in the home and that she had never expressed concerns about Hooten to her boyfriend.
No other arrests have been made and none are expected.
Rayborn said Willenborg is believed to originally be from Jeffersonville.
A man matching Hooten’s name on Clark County court records shows a warrant was issued in October for his arrest after failing to register as a sex offender.
Check newsandtribune.com and print editions for updates.