Dateline NBC Featuring Halee Rathgeber in Fall 2018 Season Premiere
Last April, my phone dinged with the notification from a local news outlet that the body of a young woman was found in Warrick County. My mind immediately went to my step-daughter Carley but my husband assured me she was fine. I'm an eternal worrier and it doesn't help that it's my job to report on the worst day of peoples' lives.
On this particular day, I felt relieved that Carley was okay. And I went about my day until more information was released. What I found out later was the girl who was found was one my step-daughter's best friends. At only 20-years-old, the body of Halee Denise Rathgeber, who was described as spunky and a joy to be around, was found at a soccer field in Newburgh. Her life stolen from her in a tragic way. I can't imagine the feeling of loss and level of grief that her family and friends have experienced.
This past summer, Halee's ex-boyfriend Isaiah Hagan was found guilty of her murder and agreed to a 60-year plea.
A year-and-a-half later, fresh off of the conviction of Hagan, the Rathgeber family and Halee's friends were asked to be a part of a Dateline NBC episode featuring Halee that will be featured this Friday, Sept 28. The filming took place last week at Halee's home and at key places around the area.
Carley told me that though it was emotionally wrenching, she and Halee's family thought it was important to tell her story because Halee was always willing to help others and if this is in any way can help remind other people to follow their instincts when it comes to relationships that's what she would have wanted. They also wanted to protect her legacy. "It's the last thing her friends and family can do for her. Protecting her reputation and shining a light on how amazing she is the most important thing to us," Carley said.
She went on to tell me that the last year and a half has been hard without Halee. From learning that Halee had been killed to being questioned by police, learning the ins and outs of the justice system - everything has been so drawn out and in the public eye; no one involved has had an opportunity to process because they have been so focused on making sure Isaiah paid for his crime. They haven't been able to cope.
Watching this episode and once again being in the public eye will be hard, but Halee's friends and family support each other through it all. And their wish to help remind others to follow their instincts and stay safe will reach a national audience this Friday. If you are facing domestic abuse, please seek help today. Call the Albion Fellows Bacon Center at (812) 422-9372 or talk to someone you trust.