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What happened to Tera Chavez? Dateline Unforgettable to revisit cop's wife's mysterious death by gunshot

Tera Chavez's husband, Levi, was found not guilty in the murder trial (Image via NBC, ABC)
Tera Chavez's husband, Levi, was found not guilty in the murder trial (Image via NBC, ABC)
Nikita Mahato

Josh Mankiewicz is scheduled to revisit the 2007 death by gunshot story of Tera Chavez in an upcoming Season 2 episode of Dateline Unforgettable this Tuesday, June 14, at 8.00 pm ET on Oxygen.

The case, which first aired on a Dateline episode titled The Officer's Wife in 2013, will be rebroadcast with Mankiewicz looking back at the case that had everyone baffled.

The official synopsis states:

"When a police officer's wife is shot to death in her bed, her parents' certainty that investigators have it wrong and their determination to untangle the mystery, makes the case unforgettable for Josh Mankiewicz."
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Levi Chavez claimed he returned to their Los Lunas, New Mexico, home on Oct. 22, 2007, to find his wife's dead body in bed after taking a bullet right into the 26-year-old's mouth. At first, authorities assumed that Tera Chavez shot herself with a bullet to the mouth, ruling it out as a suicide case.

After suspicions and an incisive investigation the husband, Levi Chavez, was ultimately charged with murdering his wife.


Did Levi Chavez kill Tera Chavez? 2007 murder case explored ahead of Dateline: Unforgettable episode

In 2007, Tera Chavez was found dead by her husband in their New Mexico home (Image via NBC)
In 2007, Tera Chavez was found dead by her husband in their New Mexico home (Image via NBC)

The already collapsing marriage of high-school sweethearts Levi and Tera Chavez took an unexpected and shocking turn on an October morning in 2007 when Levi, an Albuquerque police officer, called 911. Reportedly, he reached home to discover his wife dead from a gunshot to the mouth fired with an issued service gun.

According to the husband's description, 26-year-old Tera was found in their bed. He stated that her mouth was wide open, blood was gushing down her body and into the sheets, with a gun, shell casing, and suicide note placed next to the body.

In 2013, Levi Chavez stood trial after being accused of murdering her wife, Tera Chavez (Image via NBC)
In 2013, Levi Chavez stood trial after being accused of murdering her wife, Tera Chavez (Image via NBC)

After many months, as the police started looking deeper into Levi's accounts of the incident, it was determined that her death was a murder and not a suicide case.

While the police and the victim's family suspected foul play with Levi at the center of it, autopsy reports solidified the theory when they revealed that Tera was shot on the back of her mouth. As the investigation moved forward, revelations were made about several love affairs, and an alleged insurance fraud led authorities to rule the husband as the prime suspect in the alleged murder.

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According to reports, Chavez was relieved from duty by his workplace before being detained and accused of murdering him in April 2011. Tera's family pushed the on-and-off case, and former Valencia County sheriff's detective Aaron Jones firmly believed that the husband murdered Tera Chavez, leading to Levi's ultimate trial in 2013.

A significant portion of the case revolved around Levi's extramarital affairs and Jones' assertions that Tera did not shoot herself and the gun found at the crime scene was most probably fiddled with.

Levi was brought to the stand by the defense team throughout the contentious trial while steadfastly asserting his innocence. The accused, who risked a life sentence if convicted, was cleared on all counts after a six-week trial and two days of deliberation by the jury.


Catch the full picture story of Dateline: Unforgettable this June 14, 2022.


Edited by Suchitra

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