ALBANY, Ore. - A woman vanished In 1997 while she was awaiting trial as a suspect in the crash-related death of a woman from Dexter, Oregon.
The suspect appeared in court for the crash on Friday, thanks to someone overhearing a woman at a Canadian bar bragging about getting away with the DUI fatal crash in the United States.
In 1997 Jewel Anderson, 65 of Dexter, was driving north on I-5 when she was sideswiped by a drunk driver near Albany.
Anderson lost control of her car. Her vehicle crossed the median into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with another vehicle.
Police said their suspect, a then 38-year-old Jean Terese Keating of Milwaukie, Ore., was set to appear on manslaughter charges for the crash when she left town without a trace.
“After she left, she dropped off the face of the earth. No matter what we did, we couldn't find her,” said Jewel’s daughter, Geneva Brown. “How could it have been so easy for someone with two kids to just vanish?”
Authorities had a major breakthrough in their case earlier this year when they said Keating was overheard bragging about getting away with the crime at a bar in Canada.
Canadian officials detained Keating on a past DUII arrest in their country’s database, and brought her back to the US. She appeared at the Linn County Courthouse on Friday for first-degree manslaughter, DUII, reckless driving and three counts of recklessly endangering another person.
“Finally, after 16 years, we’re gonna have closure,” said Brown.
The district attorney's office said Keating is held on $5 million bail, with her next court appearance scheduled for September.
The family issued this statement:
"While there is no price to be put on repayment for taking a life, and it certainly won't bring Jewel (at right) back, we are thankful that finally after 16 years of her running, hiding and torment, our families will have some closure; knowing that Teresa Jean Keating is in custody and justice will be served.
"In the past 16 years we have felt hurt, betrayed, confused and most of all a void in our lives. We have missed her not getting to be at all our happy occasions like graduations, weddings, births, birthdays and many more.
"Jewel was the sweetest woman anyone has ever known; a mother, sister, aunt, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a stranger to no one and loved holidays, family gatherings like picnics and reunions and traveling. Her home was home to anyone, and she would help anyone that needed down to her last dime or the shirt off her back. Above all, she loved her family and God.
"One single action can have a tremendous impact. What happened on April 13, 1997 was a truly devastating event; not only for our family but for the people in the second vehicle involved in the accident, and I'm sure Teresa's family as well. However to call this an accident would be an outright lie - the act of getting behind the wheel of that car by Teresa Jean Keating was very much intentional. Where she was going, what she was thinking - all that is irrelevant - too drunk to drive, is too drunk to drive. All of our families have suffered a tremendous loss."