Overview of Brent Gutheinz
Brent Alan Gutheinz, 22-years-old a the time of his murder, grew up as an incredibly energetic and outgoing child. His parents, Jerry and Diana, share that Brent always liked to play tricks and shock his parents with some of the things he said. At the young age of 12, Brent asked his dad how someone got gonorrhea — and when Jerry explained and asked Brent if he was sexually active, Brent responded with a grin, saying, “Maybe.”
As Brent got older, his charisma continued to grow, as his siblings and friends say Brent never casually dated. Instead, when Brent was with a girl, he was “all in'' and would say that the girl was the most wonderful and perfect person for him. Then, suddenly with relationship after relationship, they would end abruptly.
In high school, Brent’s impulsivity continued to develop, and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Around the same, Brent took up bodybuilding, often exercising for hours. For lunch, he’d reportedly eat nothing but 5 cans of tuna or hard-boiled eggs. Quickly, he morphed from a “pudgy band nerd into a sexy stud.” But he kept his grades up, and stayed a star-student.
But, behind Brent’s success was a dark side. Brent told friends that he was raped in middle school by several other boys, fueling his insecurity. While beginning his bodybuilding journey, Brent reportedly started taking steroids, and did on and off up until the time he was murdered.
As Brent was in college, he met Chanel Banks in February 1997. Chanel was engaged to a man when she met Brent, but within eight days of the pair meeting, Chanel broke off her engagement, and the pair quickly escalated their relationship. After getting engaged, moving in together, and racking up over $64,000 in debt by May of 1997, Chanel and Brent break up on June 12, 1997 because Chanel is pregnant and she wants an abortion.
June 19, 1997 is the day Brent is last seen alive, running errands and going to the gym. Three days later, a fisherman found Brent’s burnt body under a bridge near Squirrel Creek, near Van Alstyne. His body had been burned and mutilated: Brent’s lower jaw had been removed and was missing, as were his upper teeth, his spleen and one kidney.
The investigation quickly doesn’t go anywhere, and there are many documented forensic failures on behalf of the crime scene investigators. Several of the potential suspects, including Chanel, immediately lawyer up so there are no interviews. No one has ever been arrested.
Where the case stands today. Brent’s homicide remains unsolved. Investigators still have countless questions, including trying to understand how Brent’s remains ended up at Squirrel Creek, why his Mustang was discovered parked over a week later, and why people around him retained attorneys so quickly. In 2017, Governor Greg Abbott announced refunding of a new cold case program, specifically mentioning Brent’s case. Anyone with information is urged to call Texas Crime Stoppers at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477) or the Texas Department of Public Safety at 1-800-346-3243.