Terri Ackerman was in a good mood when she left her daughter Ambyr’s house on the afternoon of Thursday, August 23, 2018. She hugged her daughter and her grandchildren goodbye and told them she would see them in the morning. The 56-year-old then made the 25-minute drive to her house in Lochbuie, Colorado; she called Ambyr around 4:30 pm to let her know that she had arrived home safely.
A couple of hours later, however, Terri called Ambyr back, this time in tears. She was very upset and said that she wouldn’t be able to watch Ambyr’s children the following day. Terri didn’t give any reason for the sudden change but did say that she hadn’t slept in a while and was tired. Ambyr told her to get some sleep and not worry about babysitting. She assumed her mother was going to go to bed once she got off the phone with her; she had no idea that she would never talk to her again.
Ambyr worked 12-hour shifts as a 911 dispatcher and was unable to get anyone to cover her shift on Friday, so her fiancé, Jesse, took the day off from work so he could stay at home with their two children. Ambyr’s shift started at 3:00 am, so she was up and out of the house before sunrise. Jesse and the children were still half asleep when they were surprised by a knock on the door at 6:00 am. It was Terri’s husband, Delbert.
He told Jesse that he had come to watch the kids because Terri couldn’t. Jesse wasn’t sure what was going on because Delbert or Terri would have called them ahead of time to let them know about the change. He told Delbert that he wasn’t in need of any help with the kids because he had already taken the day off. Delbert, on the other hand, didn’t seem ready to leave. He told Jesse that since he had already driven there, he might as well stay a while.
Delbert stayed at the house until about 11 a.m., when he left to go to a nearby marijuana store. After an hour, he came back and helped Jesse fix a fence on the property. Around 1:30 pm, he finally decided to go home.
That afternoon, when Ambyr got home from work, Jesse told her about the weird day he had with Delbert. Ambyr agreed that it was strange that neither Delbert nor Terri had called to let them know that Delbert would be watching the kids ahead of time, but she tried to brush it off. She didn’t think much about it until 8 p.m. that night, when Delbert called her to say that her mother was missing.
Delbert said that Terri was asleep in bed when he left their house that morning, just after 5 a.m. When he got back that afternoon, Terri’s wallet, keys, cell phone, and cigarettes were on the kitchen counter, but she wasn’t there. Also, her car was left behind. From what Delbert could tell, the only things that were missing were Terri’s prescription drugs.
Ambyr was worried right away. He told her that he had been looking for his wife in the area for a while but hadn’t been able to find her. Then, at 6 p.m., he went to the Lochbuie Police Department and said she was missing. She asked him why he didn’t call her until two hours after going to the police station. It didn’t make sense that he wouldn’t have called her first to see if she had heard from her mother.
As soon as Ambyr found out her mother wasn’t there, she knew she hadn’t left on her own. Terri loved her children and grandchildren very much and would never leave them. She didn’t have many friends in Colorado because she and Delbert had only moved there a few years before. That’s where she would have gone if she had been going anywhere.
She grew up in a strict Southern Baptist home. She had mental health problems since she was a teenager, but she didn’t get a diagnosis for years because she was told not to go to the psychiatrist. She started seeing a therapist as an adult and was told she had bipolar disorder. Once she started taking medication, she changed a lot. She was happier, and things between her and her younger sister Kim got better. As adults, they became very close friends, even though they weren’t close when they were younger.
Terri joined the army when she was 18 years old and did her duty for more than ten years. She finally settled down in Maryland, where she was living when she met Delbert Ackerman in 2011. They decided to get married after a very short courtship. They moved to Colorado not long after that.
Because Ambyr was very close to her mother, she chose to move to Colorado with her. She stayed with Terri and Delbert for a while. After that, she and her fiancé moved about 25 minutes away to their own place. Terri took care of Ambyr’s two grandchildren at least three days a week. Ambyr said that her mother’s very quiet life was made up of “watching her granddaughters, running errands, reading books, and watching the Lifetime channel.” Not at all, she wasn’t the kind of person who would just quit her life.
When Kim learned that her older sister wasn’t coming home, she planned to fly to Colorado right away, stopping in New Mexico to get their mother. After Terri got married to Delbert, she said she had seen a change in her. Kim noticed that Delbert seemed to have a lot of power over Terri. Terri never really talked about it, but Kim didn’t like how mean Delbert could be.
When Christopher, Delbert’s son, moved in with the couple six months ago, things didn’t get any better. He was an awkward guy, and Terri didn’t like something about him.
People close to Terri said that she was secretly planning to divorce Delbert in the weeks before she went missing. She opened a new bank account and began looking into the different types of state aid she might be able to get now that she was divorced.
Terri had told her friend Geraldine that she didn’t want to be with Delbert right before she disappeared. The state of her marriage made her so sad that she would cry uncontrollably at times. Geraldine tried to make Terri feel better and told her Terri could move in with her if she wanted to. Geraldine lived alone and said she would enjoy having Terri around. This made Terri feel a little better, and Geraldine thought she was really thinking about it. But Terri never came back after she left Geraldine’s house that day.
The next day after Terri was last seen, Ambyr chose to go see Delbert. When she got there, Delbert and Christopher were deep in conversation. She hadn’t called to let him know she was getting there. They stopped talking as soon as they realized Ambyr was there. Christopher went around the back of the house while Delbert talked to Ambyr.
Someone named Ambyr noticed that Delbert’s white pickup truck, which was usually parked in the driveway, wasn’t there. It was strange that all of the trash cans and recycling bins were empty, since the trash hadn’t been picked up that day. Her mother’s ashtray, which usually had a lot of cigarettes in it, only had one cigarette butt in it.
The house and the area around it were searched by police, but they found no signs of foul play. When Ambyr told the officer that Delbert’s truck was missing, the officer asked him where it was. He told her that it was at his son’s body shop to be fixed up because it had a few dents. The officer agreed with this explanation. However, the truck was back at the house a few days later, still with all of its dents. No work had been done on the body. It’s not clear if investigators looked into this difference further.
Terri’s family put up missing person flyers all over the area and asked anyone who saw Terri to call the police. They wanted to believe that Terri was still alive and would be found safe, but as the days went by and she hadn’t said anything, their hope began to fade.
The area around Terri’s house was searched by a search and rescue team with trained dogs, but they couldn’t find any clues about where Terri was. While she was at home, bloodhounds could pick up her scent but couldn’t follow it outside.
Terri was still missing after three months, and Ambyr said she was afraid the worst. While her family made it through Thanksgiving without her, they were dreading the holidays that were coming up. “Someone needs to come forward and tell us something…something isn’t right,” Ambyr told a reporter.
It made Ambyr worry that neither the police nor the local news were giving her mother’s case the attention it needed. She said that the killings of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters less than two weeks before Terri went missing had cast a shadow over the case. The case got coverage in both local and national news outlets. Terri’s case, on the other hand, didn’t get nearly as much attention.
Tracey McCoy, chief of police in Lochbuie, said that investigators had been working with detectives from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Bureau of Investigation since the beginning of the case. However, they had followed every lead and still didn’t know what had happened to Terri.
Ambyr was sure that her mother would never have left on her own; she was sure that something bad had happened. “She was glad…”Her family was everything to her…We knew she wouldn’t do that to us. Even though Chief McCoy said that foul play hadn’t been ruled out, detectives didn’t have any strong evidence to suggest that it had happened.
Everyone in Terri’s family knew they thought either Delbert or his son had something to do with her disappearance. Delbert told Kim that he and Terri had a fight the night before she disappeared. He said that he was trying to show her how to use their new microwave but she didn’t seem to get it. The incident made Delbert sound angry, and Kim thought that. The family couldn’t help but wonder if their argument had turned violent.
Delbert agreed to take a polygraph test about Terri’s disappearance when asked to do so by police. The test results were not made public, and the police have never named him as a suspect in public. Another thing that was asked of Christopher was a polygraph test, but he refused. That’s why he didn’t want to take a lie detector test, he told Ambyr. He had no idea what had happened to her mother.
Chief McCoy admits that Terri’s disappearance is concerning, especially as it has now been four years since she was last seen, but has stressed that there is no evidence to support the theory that foul play was involved. He has also stated that there is no evidence pointing to any potential suspects.
Terri’s family has been very open about the fact that they believe Terri met with foul play and was likely mu*rdered hours before she was reported missing. They refuse to give up their search for answers and remain hopeful that someone will come forward with the answers they need to finally bring Terri home.
Terri Ackerman was 56 years old when she went missing in 2018. She was a devoted mother and grandmother who is deeply missed by her family; they don’t believe she went missing voluntarily and are convinced that she was a victim of foul play. Terri has hazel eyes and red hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 170 pounds. She has a full sleeve tattoo of fairies and leaves on her right arm, and tattoos of baby footprints on the side of her chest, a fairy on her back, a band with feathers on her upper left arm, and one of a baby with wings on her lower left arm. She also has tattoos on each calf. If you have any information about Terri, please contact the Lochbuie Police Department at 303–659–1395.