Lyme patient dead; wife accused of murder
Date: Wednesday, July 25 @ 04:00:00 UTC
Topic: Lyme In The News

Friends and family voice support for Catoosa woman accused of murder
‘I never imagined anything like this’
By Taylor Leonard

Editor's note: All friends and family members interviewed for this story asked to remain anonymous.

Teresa Kohnle sits in the Catoosa County Detention Center accused of killing her husband — but friends say there’s more to the story.

Last week dozens of Teresa Kohnle’s friends and family turned out for her bond hearing. These supporters have been collecting money to help pay for her attorney, McCracken Poston.

Teresa Kohnle is currently being held without bond. 
Teresa Kohnle is charged with killing her husband and setting fire to the family's home.
Photo: Catoosa County News

Teresa Kohnle is charged with killing her husband and setting fire to the family's home.

Despite the conflicting emotions many friends of the Kohnles have expressed, they all seem to agree on one thing — they never saw it coming.

“I never imagined anything like this,” said one Kohnle acquaintance who wished to remain anonymous, “never in my wildest dreams.”

Teresa Kohnle was arrested July 9 and charged with arson and felony murder. Her husband, James Kohnle, died of smoke inhalation on June 29 after a fire in their Boynton Drive home.

According to Catoosa Sheriff Phil Summers, Teresa Kohnle left her home with her two children and a neighbor shortly before the fire broke out. She was headed to Knoxville to visit relatives.

An anonymous source said Kohnle then dropped her daughter off at the home of an elderlywoman who frequently watched after her children. It was this woman who later sat the 6 year-old down and explained that her father had passed away.

“She understood, but I don’t think it’s really hit her,” said the source.

The family friend also explained that Kohnle’s mother lives in Kentucky, and was meeting her in Knoxville to let her borrow a car.

Both Summers and the family friend pointed to the Kohnles’ money problems as a cause of stress in their lives, and both said James Kohnle’s contraction of Lyme disease might have been the source of those problems.

According to some of the Kohnle’s friends, the family used to spend a lot of ...

time together. James took his son, 11, to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School football and baseball games. Teresa threw large birthday parties for the kids and the family would have friends over for cookouts almost every weekend.

“It seemed like they were fine until the last three years,” said an anonymous source.

Family friends noticed a change in the Kohnles. They began to seem constantly “on edge.”

James Kohnle contracted lyme disease a little less than two years ago. After that he couldn’t work as much in his chiropractic office in Dalton, where his wife worked as a masseuse. And when he did have energy, he spent it working rather than laughing, playing and throwing parties with his family, one friend said.

“Sometimes (Teresa) would just break down and cry,” they said. “She had to work overtime, keep up the bills and be a parent to her children, who had baseball and cheerleading practices to get to. I know there had to be a ton of stress on her.”

With Teresa in jail, the Kohnle children are staying with a family that was close to their parents, a family that might be asking the Department of Family and Children Services for temporary custody.

“They’re in good hands,” said the anonymous source. “She’s a good woman.”

The family the children are staying with also has two kids close in age to the Kohnles.

“But it’s going to get harder before it gets easier,” said the source.

Two of James Kohnle’s brothers have also shown support for Teresa.

“I don’t know anyone who disliked her. She is very loving, very friendly,” said an anonymous source. “Her friends feel like it’s not fair, like she won’t get a fair trial here. They want the case moved out of Catoosa County.”

In a news conference the day after Teresa Kohnle’s arrest, Summers said, "Arson definitely did occur, and she was involved in the arson.”

So while Teresa Kohnle sits in jail awaiting trial, many of her friends and family hope for the best. In the meantime authorities wait for James Kohnle’s toxicology report.


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