Tera Lewandowski Murder: Where are Daniel “DJ” Meyer and Crystal Griffin Now?

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The episode titled ‘Six Pounds of Pressure’ of Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide Hunter: American Detective’ delves deep into the disappearance and murder case of a young woman named Tera Lewandowski. When she failed to show up for her important appointment with the doctor, her mother reported her missing from the Colorado house she recently moved into. As the investigators dug into the case, they suspected that there might be multiple suspects in the case. Thanks to the exclusive interviews with the officials and the loved ones of the victim, the viewers are able to gain insightful information about the case.

Tera Lewandowski’s Body Was Found Several Months After Her Disappearance

In the early 80s, Vonda Holt’s life transformed dramatically and positively after the birth of her daughter, whom she named Tera Lewandowski. Under the love and care of her family, including her sister Morgan Carlone, Tera grew up to be a compassionate and free-spirited individual with a warm personality. During her teenage years, she met with two serious car accidents, which forced her to undergo back and hip surgeries. Given her love for animals, she aspired to become a veterinarian. However, the two accidents proved to be life-changing for her.

Image Credit: The Denver Post

At the age of 34, with renewed hopes, she and her chihuahua named Diablo relocated to the small town of Pierce. Unfortunately, the fresh start did not last long for her, as in September 2015, she did not show up for her doctor’s appointment. Immediately, her mother reported her missing. However, despite the best efforts of the police, they could not find any sign of the individual. About seven months after she went missing, her body finally surfaced in Laramie County, Wyoming, about 100 miles away from the town of Pierce, in April 2016. The cause of her death was declared to be stabbing.

Tera Lewandowski Had an Altercation With a Gang Member

Between the time Tera Lewandowski went missing and the day her body was found, the police launched an extensive investigation into the case, conducting interrogations with potential suspects, witnesses, and the loved ones of the victim. They learned that while Tera was at a drug rehabilitation center, where she met Daniel “DJ” Meyer and his girlfriend, Crystal Griffin, she was invited by the couple to stay with them at the former’s house at 205 Third Street in September 2015 after checking out of the rehab center. So, she accepted their generous offer and rented their upstairs room with her furry little friend.

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A week or so into her move, Tera’s mother visited her new rented place, where everything seemed to be alright. However, below the surface, tensions had arisen between Tera and the couple as she found it disrespectful when their friends, including Michael Vassil, Chad Iler, and Karly Hanchett, used to frequently hang out as they pleased. In one instance, while Tera was in the middle of watching a TV program, Michael Vassil’s girlfriend, Karly, interrupted her and played her music, which led to the former storming off upstairs into her bedroom. Reports also suggested that the two women also got into a heated argument over stolen prescription drugs, leading to them hatching an elaborate plan to murder her.

Confessions From Crystal and Scott Hanchett Helped the Police Solve the Case

According to Crystal Griffin, Daniel, Michael, Karly, and Chad were members of a little gang called “The Unforgiven” or “The 21 Gang.” She claimed that on the night of September 29, 2015, they went upstairs to Tera’s room and stabbed her to death in her sleep before wrapping her body in the caret and disposing of her body in the neighboring state of Wyoming. After that, they decided to burn all of the victim’s belongings in an outdoor fire pit at Michael Vassil’s house. However, Crystal claimed her only involvement was in the disposing of her body. When the police interrogated the members of the gang, all of them, except Daniel, denied knowing anything about her disappearance. But Daniel ended up putting the blame on his girlfriend and claimed that she had killed Tera and disposed of her body single-handedly.

Crystal Griffin

He also claimed that he had dropped off Tera in Greeley, Colorado, where she was hoping to score some drugs. When his house was searched by the authorities, nothing related to the crime, except for bleach and cleaning products, could be found. Soon, the detectives obtained a search warrant for the house of Michael Vassil and Karly Hanchett to look for any evidence of Tera’s burned belongings. During the inspection, they discovered a burnt iPad in the backyard, after which they collected the suspects’ phones as well. In the second round of questioning, Crystal also mentioned Karly’s brother, Scott Hanchett. She testified that he landed the fatal blow to Tera during the ambush. The detectives had also found traces of blood in Daniel’s pickup track.

Scott Hanchett

There came a big crack in the case when Scott Hanchett was brought in for questioning and made a confession. According to him, Karly beat Tera with a bat while DJ stabbed her in the chest. Meanwhile, the victim pleaded with them not to harm her dog, Diablo. In order to end her suffering, Scott stabbed her in the back. Moreover, the authorities were able to find the murder weapons in a pond near the town of Pierce, Colorado. In late October 2015, Daniel and other suspects, including Chad Iler, Michael Vassil, Scott Hanchett, and Karly Hanchett, were arrested and charged with being involved in the first-degree murder of Tera Lewandowski. Meanwhile, Crystal Griffin faced an accessory charge.

While Daniel is Serving a Life Sentence, Crystal Griffin is Held up at a Half-House in Colorado

In May 2017, Daniel “DJ” Meyer stood on trial for the murder of Tera Lewandowski. After listening to the arguments of the prosecution and the defense, the jury returned with a guilty verdict and convicted him of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the case of Tera Lewandowski’s murder. Almost immediately, he was sentenced to life in prison in addition to 18 years. The victim’s mother stated after the sentencing, “It took going through all of this to get the answer I already knew. We got justice for Tera, and she can finally rest.” At present, Daniel is incarcerated at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Ordway, Colorado.

Daniel “DJ” Meyer

As for Crystal Griffin, she accepted a plea deal and received a 12-year imprisonment sentence in a halfway house for being an accessory to the murder. The rest of the defendants, including Michael Vassil, Karly Hanchett, Scott Hanchett, and Chad Iler, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and received different terms of sentences, from 12 to 50 years of imprisonment. Currently, Crystal is possibly spending her sentence at a halfway house in Colorado.

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