MASON CITY — Samantha Teeter was a loving person whose life was cut short before she could be the person she wanted to be, her family said.
Teeter, 19, died from gunshot injuries Sunday afternoon at a Rochester, Minnesota, hospital. She had been shot early Friday in Mason City.
Her family was still in shock Monday, trying to comprehend the loss of a young woman they say died before she could get her life on track and realize her dreams.
“We’ll never know the woman she would’ve become, ...” said her father, Dave Teeter, of Mason City.
“But, she would’ve been an amazing woman,” said her brother, Jesse Teeter.
Dave, Jesse and Samantha’s sister, Jill Buland, described the young woman as a compassionate person with a penchant for bringing home strays.
It started with animals when she was a child. Later, she regularly brought home friends to live with the family or to celebrate the holidays.
“She cared about everybody,” Buland said Monday evening. “She could’ve met you five minutes ago and she would’ve made you a priority.”
Teeter loved to draw, listen to music, play with her nieces and nephews, and most of all, visiting with her 2-year-old son, Andre.
The child lives with Dave and Samantha’s mother, Monica. Mother and son loved to play during visits at the family’s home.
“The last time she was here they piled leaves up by the slide and he would go down the slide into the pile of leaves from his swing set and then he chased her, or she chased him around in his little truck,” Dave Teeter said.
“She would go get down in the leaves and she’s all covered in leaves and he’s covered in leaves — They just had a blast.”
Though her family says Samantha had struggled in recent years, she was trying to turn things around.
“I just feel so bad her life got cut short, and probably for no reason whatsoever,” her father said.
Police say Larry Whaley, 60, shot Teeter once in the head with a handgun shortly before 4 a.m. Friday at 116 17th St. S.E.
Whaley, who lived in the house, was charged Monday with first-degree murder. The charge has since been amended to second-degree murder.
He had previously been charged with attempted murder. Prosecutors re-filed the case after Teeter’s death.
At his court hearing on Monday, Whaley told Magistrate Judge Ronald Wagenaar he didn’t understand why he faced the new charge of first-degree, premeditated murder.
He told the judge, “It wasn’t intentional.”
The judge quickly reminded Whaley, who didn’t have an attorney present, of his right to remain silent.
Police have not said what they believe led up to the shooting. No motive has been released.
Teeter’s family is leaving the investigation up to police.
They take comfort in her memory and that, last weekend, they were able to carry out Samantha’s wishes to be an organ donor.
A 40-year-old woman and 29-year-old woman each got one of her kidneys, said Dave Teeter.
“It was a positive thing to focus on,” he said. “As sad and as miserable as we were this weekend, we know that there were going to be several families out there that were going to have the best weekend, the best Christmas, of their lives.”
Services for Samantha Teeter are pending at Hogan-Bremer-Moore Colonial Chapels in Mason City.