PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Portage police spent more than 29 hours at the home of teacher who has been missing for three weeks, but it’s not yet known if they found anything that will lead to a break in the case.
Theresa Lockhart was last seen on May 18. She was reported missing two days later by officials at Schoolcraft Community Schools, where she teaches Spanish. Her husband, Christopher Lockhart, has been named a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance, but he denied involvement in an interview with 24 Hour News 8 over the weekend. Portage police have said the case could become a homicide investigation.
The Portage Department of Public Safety said its officers and the Kalamazoo Metro SWAT Team arrived at the Lockhart home at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday to serve a search warrant.
Christopher Lockhart left the scene in the front seat of an unmarked police car Wednesday evening, but Portage DPS Deputy Chief John Blue told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday that he was not in police custody and no arrests had been made in the case.
“We’re still looking at this as an active investigation,” Blue said.
Investigators spent about 13 hours combing through the home overnight before leaving the scene around 5 a.m. Thursday.
The Portage Crime Scene Unit was among those that returned to the scene just before 9 a.m. Thursday. An officer could be seen sweeping a metal detector through a gap in the fence to the Lockhart’s backyard. Investigators also screened the front yard and side of the Lockhart house. Another device created 3-D images of the property.
“It’s surreal,” said neighbor Sharon Runyon. “You live in this peaceful, quiet, lovely neighborhood, and then you wake up to find out there’s policeman around the corner.”
It wasn’t until around 9:15 p.m. Thursday — some 29 hours after they arrived to serve the search warrant — that officers started to take down the police tape around the home. It’s not yet known if police were looking for anything specific in the house, what they found or how it could help their investigation.
Earlier in the day, around 1 p.m., Michigan State Police troopers were searching a wooded area south the park-and-ride off of Angling Road where Theresa Lockhart’s car was found. They were on scene for around an hour.
Troopers said they were assisting in a case led by Portage police and couldn’t comment on the search.
Christopher Lockhart was spotted out shopping at the Best Buy in Portage on Thursday. A viewer snapped pictures. He was seen wearing the same clothes from the day before when police started searching his home.
The viewer says he saw Christopher Lockhart buying a new phone and laptop. In the photo, a Sprint bag can be seen in his hand while he looks at laptops.
24 Hour News 8 was told when he checked out, he gave the name Christopher Lockhart. The viewer then watched him leave the store in a cab.
It’s unclear where he was staying, but it appears he was sticking around Portage.
Theresa Lockhart’s sister, Joan Mullowney, lives in Canada. She made a few statements this afternoon on a conference call.
“I’m choosing to believe that Chris hasn’t done anything at this point in time,” she said. “My faith is keeping me going that way.”
Anyone with information about where Theresa Lockhart may be is asked to call Portage police at 269.329.4567 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.
–24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker, Brady Gillum and Lynsey Mukomel contributed to this report.
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