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For Years, They Blamed Gators. Now She's Going to Jail for Life

Denise Williams sentenced in murder of her husband nearly 20 years ago
By Richard Kemeny,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2019 3:35 PM CST
Denise Williams, center, sits with her defense attorney Ethan Way, right, before Williams' sentencing in Tallahassee, Fla., for the murder of her husband, Mike Williams.   (Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)

(Newser) – A Florida woman was jailed for life this week for killing her husband, who for years was thought to have been eaten by alligators, reports NBC News. Denise Williams was sentenced to life without parole Wednesday after a court found in December that she conspired with her then lover 18 years ago to kill husband Mike Williams. In December 2000, Mike Williams vanished after he went out hunting with Brian Winchester—his best friend whom Denise later married. Investigators assumed Mike Williams had fallen from his boat and been eaten by alligators, as he was reported missing and his body was never found. Then in 2017, his body turned up in mud in a lake north of Tallahassee, with a shotgun blast in the head.

State prosecutors concluded that Denise ordered him killed so that she could claim $1.75 million in life insurance. Michael's mother, Cheryl, said she believed justice had finally been served, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. "There is no manual to tell a mother what to do when her child goes missing," she told the courtroom. The judge sentenced Denise, 48, in just 15 minutes. As for Winchester, who did the actual shooting, he previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping Denise at gunpoint in 2017. They had separated the year before. According to People, he was granted immunity in the killing as a key witness and will be released after serving his 20-year kidnapping sentence. (Mike Williams disappeared just ahead of his sixth wedding anniversary.)


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