Profile and Crimes of Teresa Lewis

A Case of Deceit, Sex, Greed and Murder

Teresa Lewis, 2002 (L), Teresa Lewis, 2010 (R-Top), Matthew Shallenberger (R-Middle), Rodney Fuller (R-Bottom)
Teresa Lewis, 2002 (L), Teresa Lewis, 2010 (R-Top), Matthew Shallenberger (R-Middle), Rodney Fuller (R-Bottom). Mug Shots

Teresa and Julian Lewis

In April 2000, Teresa Bean, 33, met Julian Lewis at Dan River, Inc., where they were both employed. Julian was a widower with three adult children, Jason, Charles and Kathy. He lost his wife to a long and difficult illness in January of that year. Teresa Bean was a divorcee with a 16-year-old daughter named Christie.

Two months after they met, Teresa moved in with Julian and they soon married.

In December 2001, Julian’s son, Jason Lewis, was killed in an accident. Julian received over $200,000 from a life insurance policy, which he placed in an account that only he could access. A few months later he used the money to purchase five acres of land and a mobile home in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, where he and Teresa began to live.

In August 2002, Julian’s son, C.J., an Army reservist, was to report for active duty with the National Guard. In anticipation of his deployment to Iraq, he purchased a life insurance policy in the amount of $250,000 and named his father as the primary beneficiary and Teresa Lewis as the secondary beneficiary.

Shallenberger and Fuller

In the summer of 2002, Teresa Lewis met Matthew Shallenberger, 22, and Rodney  Fuller, 19, while shopping at WalMart. Immediately after their meeting, Teresa began a sexual relationship with  Shallenberger. She began modeling lingerie for both men and was eventually having sexual intercourse with them both.

Shallenberger wanted to be the head of an illegal drug distribution ring, but he needed money to get started. If that failed to work out for him, his next goal was to become a nationally recognized hitman for the Mafia.

Fuller, on the other hand, did not talk much about any of his future goals. He seemed content following Shallenberger around.

Teresa Lewis introduced her 16-year-old daughter to the men and, while parked at a parking lot, her daughter and Fuller had sexual intercourse in one car, while Lewis and Shallenberger had sexual intercourse in another vehicle.

The Murder Plot

In late September 2002, Teresa and Shallenberger devised a plan to kill Julian and then share the money that she would get from his estate. 

The plan was to force Julian off the road, kill him, and make it look like a robbery. On October 23, 2002, Teresa gave the men $1,200 to purchase the necessary guns and ammunition to carry through their plan. However, before they could kill Julian, a third vehicle was driving too close to Julian’s car for the boys to force him off the road.

The three conspirators manufactured a second plan to kill Julian. They also decided they would kill Julian’s son, C.J., when he returned home to attend his father's funeral. Their reward for this plan would be Teresa’s inheriting and then sharing the two life insurance policies of father and son.

When Teresa learned that C.J. was planning on visiting his father and that he staying at the Lewis home on October 29-30, 2002, the plan changed so that father and son could be killed at the same time.

The Murder

In the early morning hours of October 30, 2002, Shallenberger and Fuller entered the Lewis' mobile home through a rear door that Teresa had left unlocked for them. Both men were armed with the shotguns Teresa has purchased for them

As they entered the master bedroom, they found Teresa asleep next to Julian. Shallenberger woke her up. After Teresa has moved to the kitchen, Shallenberger shot Julian multiple times. Teresa then returned to the bedroom. As Julian struggled for his life, she grabbed his pants and wallet and returned to the kitchen.

While Shallenberger was killing Julian, Fuller went to C.J.’s bedroom and shot him several times. He then joined the other two in the kitchen as they were emptying Julian’s wallet. Concerned that C.J. might still be alive, Fuller took Shallenberger’s shotgun and shot C.J. two more times.

 

Shallenberger and Fuller then left the home, after picking up some of the shotgun shells and splitting up the $300 found in Julian's wallet.

For the next 45 minutes, Teresa stayed inside the home and called her ex-mother-in-law, Marie Bean, and her best friend, Debbie Yeatts, but did not call the authorities for help.

Call to 9.1.1.

Around 3:55 A.M., Lewis called 9.1.1. and reported that a man had broken into her home at approximately 3:15 or 3:30 A.M. He had shot and killed her husband and stepson. She went on to say that the intruder had entered the bedroom where she and her husband were sleeping. He told her to get up. She then followed her husband's instructions to go to the bathroom. Locking herself in the bathroom, she heard four or five shotgun blasts.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Lewis home at approximately 4:18 A.M.  Lewis told the deputies that her husband’s body was on the floor in the master bedroom and that her stepson’s body was in the other bedroom. When the officers entered the master bedroom, however, they found Julian severely wounded, but still alive and talking. He was moaning and uttering, “Baby, baby, baby, baby.” 

Julian told the officers his wife knew who had shot him. He died not long afterwards. When informed that Julian and C.J. were dead, Teresa did not appear to the officers to be upset.

“I Miss You When You’re Gone”

Investigators interviewed Teresa. In one interview she claimed Julian had physically assaulted her a few days before the murders. Even so, she denied killing him or having any knowledge about who might have killed him.

Teresa also told the investigators that she and Julian had talked and prayed together that night. When Julian had gone to bed, she went to the kitchen to pack his lunch for the next day. Investigators found a lunch bag in the refrigerator with an attached note that read, “I love you. I hope you have a good day.”  She had also drawn a picture of a "smiley face" on the bag and had written inside it, “I miss you when you’re gone.”

Money Was No Object

Teresa called Julian's daughter Kathy on the night of the murders and told her that she had already made the necessary arrangements with the funeral home, but that she needed the names of some of Julian’s family members. She told Kathy that it wasn't necessary for her to come to the funeral home the following day.

When on the next day Kathy showed up at the funeral home anyway, Teresa told her that she was the sole beneficiary of everything and that money was no longer an object.

Cashing In

Later that same morning, Teresa called Julian’s supervisor, Mike Campbell, and told him that Julian had been murdered. She asked if she could pick up Julian’s paycheck. He told her the check would be ready by 4 P.M., but Teresa never showed up.  

She also informed in that she was the secondary beneficiary of C.J.’s military life insurance policy. Booker told her she would be contacted within 24 hours as to when she would receive C.J.’s death benefit. money.

A Braggart’s Demise

On the day of the funerals, Teresa called Julian's daughter Kathy prior to the services.

She told Kathy she had had her hair and nails done, and she had bought a beautiful suit to wear to the funeral. During the conversation she also asked if Kathy was interested in buying Julian's mobile home.

Investigators learned that Teresa had tried to withdraw $50,000 from one of Julian's accounts. She had done a bad job of forging Julian's signature on the check, and the bank employee refused to cash it.

Detectives also learned Teresa was aware of how much money she would receive upon the deaths of her husband and stepson. Months before their deaths, she was overheard telling a friend the amounts of the cash payouts coming to her, should Julian and C.J. die. 

"...Just as Long as I get the Money"

Five days after the murder, Teresa called Lt. Booker to request she been given C.J.’s personal effects. Lt. Booker told her that the personal effects would be given to C.J.’s sister Kathy Clifton, his immediate next of kin. This angered Teresa and she continued to press the issue with Booker.

When Lt. Booker refused to budge, she again asked about the life insurance money, reminding him again that she was the secondary beneficiary. When Lt. Booker told her that she would still be entitled to the life insurance, Lewis responded, “That’s fine. Kathy can have all of his effects as long as I get the money.”

Confession

On November 7, 2002, investigators again met with Teresa Lewis and presented all the evidence that they had against her. She then confessed she had offered Shallenberger money to kill Julian. She falsely claimed that Shallenberger had both Julian and C.J. before Julian’s money and leaving the mobile home.

She said that Shallenberger had expected to receive half of the insurance money, but that she had changed her mind and decided that she wanted to keep all of it for herself. She accompanied investigators to Shallenberger’s home, where she identified him as her co-conspirator.

The following day, Teresa admitted that she had not been totally honest: she confessed to Fuller’s involvement in the murders and that her 16-year-old daughter had assisted with planning the murder.

Teresa Lewis Pleads Guilty

When a lawyer is handed a murder case as heinous as Lewis' case was, the goal switches from trying to find the client innocent, to trying to avoid the death penalty.

Under Virginia law, if a defendant pleads guilty to capital murder, the judge conducts the sentencing proceeding without a jury. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the trial court may determine the case only with the consent of the defendant and concurrence of the Commonwealth.

Lewis' appointed lawyers, David Furrow and Thomas Blaylock, had a lot of experience in capital murder cases and knew that the appointed trial judge had never imposed the death penalty on a capital defendant. They also knew that the judge would be sentencing Fuller to life imprisonment under a plea agreement he had made with the prosecution, were Lewis to testify against Shallenberger and Fuller.

Also, they hoped that the judge would show leniency since Lewis had eventually cooperated with investigators and turned over the identities of Shallenberger, Fuller, and even her daughter, as accomplices.

Based on this and the heinous facts that had surfaced in the murder-for-hire-profit crime, Lewis' lawyers felt that her best chance to avoid the death penalty was to plead guilty and invoke her statutory right to be sentenced by the judge. Lewis agreed.

Lewis' IQ

Prior to Lewis' plea, she went through a competency assessment by Barbara G. Haskins, a board-certified forensic psychiatrist. She also took an IQ test.

According to Dr. Haskins, the testing showed that Lewis had a Full Scale IQ of 72. This placed her in the borderline range of intellectual functioning (71-84), but not at or below the level of mental retardation.

The psychiatrist reported that Lewis was competent to enter the pleas and that she was able to understand and appreciate the possible outcome.

The judge questioned Lewis, making sure that she understood that she was waiving her right to a jury and that she would be sentenced by the judge to either life imprisonment or death. Satisfied that she understood, he scheduled the sentencing proceedings.

Sentencing

Based upon the vileness of the crimes, the judge sentenced Lewis to death.

The judge said that his decision was made more difficult by the fact that Lewis cooperated with the investigation and that she had pleaded guilty, but as the wife and stepmother to the victims, she had engaged in the "cold blooded, pitiless slaying of two men, horrible and inhumane" for profit, which "fits the definition of an outrageous or wantonly vile, horrible, act."

He said that she had "lured men and her juvenile daughter into her web of deceit and sex and greed and murder, and within an incredibly short period of time from meeting the men, she had recruited them, been involved in planning and completing these murders, and within one week before the actual murders she had already made a failed attempt on Julian’s life."

Calling her the "head of this serpent," he said he was convinced that Lewis waited until she thought Julian was dead before she called the police and "that she allowed him to suffer...without any feelings at all, with absolute coldness."

Execution

Teresa Lewis was executed on September 23, 2010, at 9 P.M by lethal injection, at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia.

Asked if she had last words, Lewis said, "I just want Kathy to know I love her. And I am very sorry." 

Kathy Clifton, the daughter of Julian Lewis and the sister of C.J. Lewis, attended the execution.

Teresa Lewis was the first female to be executed in the state of Virginia since 1912, and the first female in the state to die by lethal injection

The gunmen, Shallenberger and Fuller, were sentenced to life imprisonment. Shallenberger committed suicide in prison in 2006.

Christie Lynn Bean, Lewis' daughter, served five years in prison because she had knowledge of the murder plot, but failed to report it.

Source: Teresa Wilson Lewis v. Barbara J. Wheeler, Warden, Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women