Broward County

Plantation ex-con finally admits he shot to death fiancée, police say

Royce Teets and fiancée Terri Coolidge, who he shot to death on Sunday.
Royce Teets and fiancée Terri Coolidge, who he shot to death on Sunday. Facebook

Royce Teets’ most recent Broward County court appearance saw him denied bond on Tuesday, charged with murdering fiancée Terri Coolidge with an AK47.

Three of his previous Broward appearances involved stalking and domestic violence. And before he moved to South Florida, from the 1980s to the early 2000s, he had convictions in Orange County for larceny, grand theft and possession of meth with intent to sell.

In March 2014, Teets’ then-wife Jennifer Rams went to Broward court seeking an injunction for protection against domestic violence. Two weeks later, an acquaintance, Christopher Wolter, filed for a temporary injunction for protection against stalking by Teets. In June 2014, Rams also filed for protection from stalking. And in Sept. 2015, Teets filed for divorce from Rams.

By that time, Teets already had coupled with Coolidge, a divorced mother of two.

Teets, 46, and Coolidge, 44, were at their West Tropical Way home 10:32 p.m. Sunday when, according to a Plantation police arrest report, he called 911 and said, “She got shot” and “She’s going to die.”

He also told the 911 operator, “They were messing with a shotgun and it went off.”

A responding officer at the scene said Teets claimed to be cleaning a shotgun when it fired. The blast left a hole in Coolidge’s center chest and another in her back, lower on her torso. Also, police say that the gun they found inside the house was a short-barrel AK47, not a shotgun.

Under questioning after being read his Miranda warning, Teets called Coolidge an alcoholic who was overly suspicious of his communications with other women, according to investigators.

Teets said he’d gone out drinking with friends and had come home between 8:30 and 9 p.m., but police claim this part of his story lacked consistency. He also told police that Coolidge accused him of sex with other women and threw household objects at him, one of which broke a large bedroom mirror.

Teets then claimed Coolidge said “I’m going to kill you,” prompting him to head for two AK47s kept in the bedroom closet. He told police he grabbed a gun and removed the magazine. Later, he told police he removed the magazine and checked to make sure no bullets were in the chamber.

Police say Teets gave three versions of what happened next:

First, the report says, the 6-1, well-muscled Teets described a fight for the gun in which the 5-4 Coolidge pulled the barrel to herself caused a bullet to blast through her chest at close range. Teets’ second version had Coolidge bumping the underside of the gun up and it blasting her in the chest. The third version: He waved the gun back and forth in front of her chest with his finger on a hair trigger and the gun went off.

All along, though, Teets said Coolidge’s death was his fault and that he could deal with jail time as a consequence, according to investigators.

When police examined the gun, one of the detectives discovered a live round in the chamber — a bullet that shouldn’t have been there if the magazine had been removed as Teets claimed.

Also, the holes in Coolidge’s body and one just above the baseboard suggested that Teets fired down at his much-shorter fiancée.

The report says when asked again what happened, Teets admitted he’d been lying.

He described himself as a “9 or 10” on the 1-to-10 scale of being mad at Coolidge. Then, according to the report, Teets admitted he grabbed the AK47, didn’t remove the magazine, racked the slide to remove a round from the chamber, ran toward Coolidge — and blasted her in the chest.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal