Terris Stahl: What Happened to Erin Kreup’s Ex-Husband?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Home Alone: Bullets in the Basement’ chronicles the tragic events leading to a shootout in an Illinois home in April 2009. The perpetrator, Terris Stahl, held four people as hostages, including his former wife and infant son, hostages for a few hours before turning the gun on himself. Now, if you want to know more about the case, including why Terris did it, we’ve your back. 

Who is Terris E. Stahl?

Terris E. Stahl and Erin L. Kreup had been high school sweethearts and were married in 2005, roughly ten months after their only son, Owen, was born. According to local news reports, Terris belonged to a family of bureaucrats, with his father, Terry Stahl, and grandfather, Walter Stahl, serving as former highway commissioners for Prairie du Long Township in St. Clair County, Illinois. The show stated how Terris was the class clown, carried out pranks, and went the extra mile to make everyone laugh.

Erin’s mother, Linda, recounted on the show how her daughter worshipped Terris and loved him very much in the initial stages of the relationship. Terris also reciprocated the sentiment, showering Erin with gifts to express his affection for her. The former young couple seemed very happy, and their happiness increased manifold when Owen was born, leading to their marriage about a year later.

According to Erin and Linda, Terris changed as Owen grew up. He allegedly was an attention-seeker who loved to be the center of affection, but it seemed to change with his son’s birth. With the infant getting all the undivided attention, Terris started acting weirdly and even was caught going through his wife’s phone. The show stated how Terris always wanted things to go his way, and when they did not, he started to behave strangely and throw frequent bouts of fits.

As Terris grew increasingly unstable, Erin separated and moved away with her son in early 2009. When she filed for divorce, he threatened to shoot her, leading her to seek and obtain an order of protection in March 2009. According to the show, it did not deter Terris, as he continued to stalk her and send her creepy texts. On one occasion, she even suspected he had broken into her home. She changed the locks and installed an alarm system weeks before the tragic incident occurred.

In April 2009, Erin was a single parent, separated from Terris, raising the 4-year-old Owen on her own. She had help from Chuck Smith, a mutual friend of the former couple, and Alyssa Schmitt, a young high school student who used to babysit Owen. Chuck had introduced Alyssa to Erin, and the two women got very close. Alyssa recounted on the show how the single mother was like an elder sister to her.

On April 5, 2009, Erin hosted a party at her home, on 4806 Rockledge Trail in Smithton, with Chuck, Alyssa, and William Marshall, Alyssa’s boyfriend, as her guests. Around 1:00 am, the party broke, with William returning home sometime after, but Alyssa and Chuck stayed over. While the former slept on the couch, Chuck retired to the upstairs bedroom, and Erin slept with Owens in the other bedroom.

Terris E. Stahl is Leading a Quiet Life Today

According to court documents, Terris broke into the home by forcing his way through the glass door with a hammer amidst the blaring siren of the home alarm system. He took the three people in the house to the basement at gunpoint and held them as hostages there. He threatened to shoot them and even told them they all were going to die that night. Terris sent Alyssa to check on a sleeping Owen upstairs when they heard a noise, only for the young babysitter to flee with the child on seeing a police officer outside.

The episode showed how the police brought in a tactical team and tried to establish contact with Terris, who sent Chuck upstairs to check if a familiar officer was present. However, the officers also rescued Chuck through the front door, leaving Erin alone with Terris. Court documents stated how Terris got nervous when Chuck did not return and let Erin head out, as he did not wish to go to prison. It was around 7:30 am when Erin walked out of her home, and a gunshot was heard almost immediately after.

The police focussed on getting Terris to surrender himself. They tried several methods, even introducing gas into the home, but to no avail. Officers sent a robotic camera into the house at noon to find Terris lying on the top of the basement stairs in a pool of blood. Court documents state he shot himself in the face and was airlifted to the St. Louis University Hospital in critical condition. The officers found two fully-loaded firearms, a .22–caliber revolver and a .32–caliber revolver, beside him.

In February 2010, Erin and Chuck sued Terris through his guardians, Terry E. Stahl and Aletha I. Stahl, accusing him of assault and false imprisonment and seeking $200,000 plus legal costs in damages. However, Terry was never prosecuted for the charges after the court deemed him unfit to stand for trial. According to official court records, Terris suffered from failure to form new short-term memories and an inability to recall the shootout or the immediate incidents preceding it.

Since these disabilities hampered his ability to testify or understand the legal proceedings, the court ruled him unfit, and all subsequent appeals against the ruling were dismissed. Very little information is available regarding his current whereabouts and is presumed to be living with his parents at 5921 Robinson School Road near Smithton.

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