It is said that souls don’t get to have eternal peace unless they have resolved any unfinished business in the physical world. How would you attain the justice you deserve after being mercilessly killed? How would you avenge your own death? Would you believe that this is possible? In 1977, a Filipina was able to solve the mystery of her own death—from beyond the grave.
Teresita Basa was born in the Philippines in 1929 and had a privileged upbringing as the only child of a wealthy lawyer and his wife. Basa moved to the United States after graduating from Assumption College in Manila, where she obtained a master's degree in music from Indiana University.
Basa eventually settled in Chicago, Illinois, and worked at Edgewater Hospital as a respiratory therapist. She was regarded as a quiet and respectful woman who was extremely committed to her profession, taking pride in delivering the best possible treatment for her patients. Basa also studied music at Loyola University, where she was working on a doctoral thesis.
Basa mentioned to her friend from the hospital, Ruth Loeb, that she had a male guest coming over but never identified him. An hour later, two neighbours of Basa smelt smoke. They informed the janitor, who alerted the other residents, and then phoned the fire department. As the firefighters extinguished a fire in apartment number 15b, they were more than horrified to find a nude body hidden under a smouldering mattress. They were even more astounded to discover that the body had a butcher knife embedded in the middle of the chest.
Teresita Basa's body was discovered shortly after. Basa's clothing was stacked beside her naked body, giving the impression of a rape-murder. A medical exam, however, revealed that Basa was not raped. Basa's body was returned to the Philippines and buried on Negros Island.
In the burnt apartment, authorities discovered a mysterious note written by Basa which read: “Get tickets for A.S.” They were unable to successfully uncover who A.S. could have been and eventually, the case met a dead end.
Police in Evanston contacted Detective Stachula and asked him about a certain Allan Showery, a technician at Edgewater Hospital. Evanston police referred Detective Stachula to Dr. Juan Chua and it was here that this case took a very peculiar turn.
Dr. Juan Chua worked at Franklin Boulevard Community Hospital as a surgical assistant. Teresita Basa allegedly possessed his wife, Mrs. Remy Chua. He informed the surprised officers that his wife had slipped into a comatose condition and at times, would speak in the voice of another woman. During one of these altered states of consciousness, Mrs. Chua exclaimed, "I am Teresita Basa."
Mrs. Chua reported in Tagalog that Allan Showery stabbed her to death. Mrs. Chua had no memory of what she had just said to her husband when she came out of the trance about half an hour later. Dr. Chua and Mrs. Chua were initially reluctant to call the cops, fearing that they would look foolish. They finally decided to call the cops after hearing Basa's voice on many occasions.
The police were initially suspicious, but according to Dr. Chua, Basa's voice had reported that Showery had also taken jewellery from her apartment. Showery had gifted his common-law wife some of the jewels. He admitted to knowing Basa but dismissed ever going to her apartment. Shortly after, he retracted his statement, saying that he went to her apartment to repair her television, but that he departed right away.
While the detectives were at the apartment, Showery's common-law-wife, Yanka Kamluk, was wearing a pearl cocktail ring that was eerily similar to the one identified as stolen by the voice of Basa. They soon found more jewellery belonging to Basa, which her family described as hers.
After presented with this evidence, Showery confessed to the murder of Basa. In his confession, he declared that he had gone to Basa’s apartment to rob her so that he could pay his rent. He said that all he got was $30 and a handful of jewellery.
Showery then said that he was "just kidding" when he confessed during his trial, which was named "Voice from the Grave Trial" for its sensational nature. “Well, Allan Showery, you weren't joking when you plunged the knife into Teresita Basa's chest!” screamed prosecutor Thomas Organ. Mrs. Chua may have staged the trances because she had been discharged from the hospital, according to Showery's defense counsel, William Swano. “To my knowledge, no man has ever been imprisoned for having a vision.”
Showery had a change of heart in his prison cell and agreed to admit guilt to the murder of Basa, as well as robbery and arson. Showery's cell was visited by the spirit of Basa, according to several reports. His defense attorneys, on the other hand, are more likely to have recommended that he adjust his plea in order to obtain a lighter punishment. Showery was released from Stateville Correctional Center in July 1983, after spending just over five years in jail.
Teresita Basa's death and the subsequent intrigue following it remain one of Chicago's most peculiar criminal cases to this day. According to Detective Stachula, “To this day, I’m not quite sure whether I believe how the information was obtained. Nonetheless, everything is completely true.”
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