The Halee Rathgeber and Isaiah Hagan Indiana soccer field murder case airs on Investigation Discovery’s Murder Loves Company tonight. The episode titled “Friends to the End” will describe the events leading up to the Evansville resident’s death. For the murder of Halee Rathgeber, Isaiah Hagan was sentenced to 60-years in prison.
Murder Loves Company: “Friends to the End” on Investigation Discovery
A group of co-workers may not be as close as they seem after detectives eye one of them in the shooting death of a close friend near a soccer field.
The body of Halee Rathgeber, 20, was found at the Alcoa Soccer Complex in 2017. She had a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Investigators couldn’t identify the dead girl but were struck by the position of the body. One detective told Dateline, they found the corpse in a snow angel position. It told them one terrible detail—that Halee Rathgeber had suffered alone in a dark field for a while, moving her legs back and forth in agony after she was shot.
A graduate of Castle High School in 2015, Halee Rathgeber had the whole world at her fingertips. She’d done well in school, and now she was off to the University of Southern Indiana, where she’d study nursing, according to her obituary. Friends say becoming a nurse was the perfect job for Halee because she adored people and enjoyed helping them.
Sadly, police would later learn that it was her forgiving spirit and helping hand that may have played a role in her death. They had no way of knowing who the young lady was, lying dead in the dirt on her back. By morning, a local newspaper had already picked up on the story, which circulated on Facebook. That’s where Halee Rathgeber’s mother saw it. She ran across the article while surfing social media as she sipped hot coffee. A gut feeling told her to check it out. The woman was able to locate two daughters, but not the oldest, not Halee.
A sudden feeling of doom came over Halee’s mother and sisters. Something was wrong. Halee Rathgeber wasn’t answering her phone and had missed an exam at school. A friend of Halee’s went to her house to check on her and was relieved to find her car parked in the front yard. The pal’s relief turned to severe panic after she found no trace of Halee inside.
Soon the police located a photo of a woman on Facebook with tattoos that matched those of their victim. Later, they had to tell Halee Rathgeber’s mother they had found her daughter dead. The sophomore’s death was a mystery. It mystified co-workers at Texas Roadhouse, and her sisters were left feeling empty. Halee had always been everyone’s protector, a mother-figure, in a way. Who would stand up for them now?
With the kind of personality she had, she should never have been a victim of murder. As they thought back, however, a theory became clearer. Halee Rathgeber had been questioned in a suspicious death case, involving a friend’s infant. The baby’s father, Thaddeus Rice, an alleged bad boy, who liked to brandish guns on social media, said it was an accident, but Halee suspected it was not. Could Thaddeus Rice have learned of her suspicions and killed her?
Thaddeus seemed like a likely suspect. But with his airtight alibi, detectives had to cross him off the list. Surveillance video captured Halee Rathgeber leaving her house a little after 10:30 p.m. She got inside a vehicle with a twenty-two-year-old man named Isaiah Hagan. At 2 a.m., Isaiah Hagan was seen on surveillance video again at a retail store with a friend.
A Good Boy Gone Bad
Jake, the friend, told investigators that Isaiah told him he had dropped Halee Rathgeber at the park late that night because she was meeting up with someone else. The story struck Jake as strange. Police took a closer look at Isaiah, who by all accounts, seemed like a good person, though in recent weeks, he seemed to take a dark turn. Police learned that Isaiah Hagan was desperate for money. He had also forged a bank check in Halee’s name.
Hurt and disappointed, Halee forgave Isaiah for it because they had a history together. She dated him briefly while they worked at Texas Roadhouse before they decided to remain close friends. What no one knew was how much pressure Isaiah Hagan was under. He owed his father money, and his father expected the money back.
Prosecutors believe that was Isaiah Hagan’s motive. Money. They believe he got a gun possibly from his parent’s home before luring Halee Rathgeber out of the house to rob and kill her to pay his father back some of the money. Isaiah’s mother, a corrections officer, was gripped with sadness. She couldn’t believe her son, a shy good boy, who was eager to please, would ever commit such a cold act. Plus, he hated guns. All she could do was “hold him,” she said. There was nothing she could do to help him.
At trial, prosecutors had a problem. There was no physical evidence tying Isaiah Hagan to Halee Rathgeber’s death. The case was built on circumstantial evidence. Pings from the cell tower told them that Isaiah was the last person with Halee, and he had her cell phone. A blue towel from his home matched the towel found at the crime scene. But Isaiah’s DNA was not on it.
The case was so problematic the judge declared a mistrial. In a new trial, that same year, Donna Hagan, Isaiah’s mother, took the stand. Her testimony blew the case out of the water like an episode of Perry Mason. On the stand, she told the court that her son told her the killing was an accident. Isaiah Hagan’s defense attorney sat in shock. The defense believed Donna tried to help her son get a lighter sentence since he was afraid of going to prison, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.
Watch the Halee Rathgeber case unfold on Murder Loves Company: “Friends to the End,” tonight at 10 p.m. on ID.
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