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JERRY "MIKE" WILLIAMS: Florida vs. Denise Williams for murder of husband in 2000 *GUILTY*

Discussion in 'Courtroom' started by noZme, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Florida authorities arrest widow in 2000 murder case
    JOE REEDY, Associated Press
    6:06 AM, May 9, 2018
    6 mins ago

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities have arrested the widow of a man who was reported missing in 2000 and whose remains were found five months ago.

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Denise Williams on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted her for first-degree murder in the death of Mike Williams.

    State attorney Jack Campbell said Denise Williams also faces a count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and a count of being an accessory after the fact. Williams was booked into Leon County Jail and is being held without bail.

    FDLE agent Mark Perez said in a statement that agents and analysts have logged over 3,000 hours on the case since taking it over in 2004.

    Mike Williams disappeared in December 2000 after he had supposedly gone duck hunting alone on a lake near Tallahassee. The 31-year old's body wasn't found after an extensive search in and around Lake Seminole. One theory at the time was that he drowned and was eaten by alligators, but that was later debunked.

    The case has been considered suspicious for years and has been covered extensively by the Tallahassee Democrat. Williams' best friend, Brian Winchester, helped him write a $1 million insurance policy six months before he disappeared. Five years later, Winchester married Williams' widow, Denise.

    Last year Winchester was charged with kidnapping Denise Williams at gunpoint. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. FDLE announced it had discovered Mike Williams' body the day after Winchester was sentenced

    Authorities said they were able to find Williams' remains after receiving "new information."
    Tammy, spike, noZme and 3 others like this.
  2. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    'Oh, my gosh!': 17 years after Mike Williams disappearance, wife is charged in his murder
    Jennifer Portman, News DirectorPublished 11:04 p.m. ET May 8, 2018 | Updated 11:41 p.m. ET May 8, 2018

    Denise Williams being taken away from work at FSU. She is charged with the murder of her slain husband Mike Williams. Karl Etters, Democrat staff writer

    Denise Merrell Williams was planning to spend Tuesday evening celebrating her daughter’s 19th birthday.

    Instead, six law enforcement officers descended on her office at Florida State University, locked her in handcuffs and hauled her off to jail on charges she murdered her late husband and the girl’s father, Mike Williams.

    More than 17 years after he went missing, the past caught up with Denise. She met it with dry-eyed, stone-faced silence.

    Minutes before her arrest at about 4 p.m., a Leon County grand jury indicted the 48-year-old on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact.

    It was the biggest bombshell yet in the disappearance of Williams, the affable 31-year-old real estate appraiser who never returned after supposedly going duck hunting alone the morning of Dec. 16, 2000, on Lake Seminole in Jackson County.

    Tammy, spike, noZme and 3 others like this.
  3. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Denise Williams' mug shot.(Photo: Leon County Detention Center)
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  4. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Grand jury: Denise Williams helped plan, cover up murder; Winchester pulled the trigger
    Jennifer Portman, News DirectorPublished 7:05 a.m. ET May 9, 2018 | Updated 11:23 a.m. ET May 9, 2018

    9:45 a.m. update

    Denise Williams' attorney, Ethan Way of Tallahassee, said her ex-husband Brian Winchester is lying about her participation in a plot to kill Mike Williams more than 17 years ago.

    "My client had absolutely nothing to do with Mike Williams' disappearance and had absolutely nothing to do with any of the crimes that Brian Winchester committed," Way said. "We will fight this until the end. And I'm certain when a jury hears from Denise Williams and the facts come out, the inescapable conclusion is that Brian Winchester killed Mike Williams."

    Winchester is serving a 20-year prison sentence for kidnapping Denise Williams at gunpoint in 2016. According to court records, he did so out of desperation she would tell investigators what really happened to Mike Williams, who went missing in 2000 and was initially thought to have drowned in Lake Seminole in Jackson County.

    A day after Winchester was sentenced last year, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement held a news conference announcing Williams' body had been found and he had been murdered.

    "It’s not even flipping," Way said in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat. "It is fiction. I mean it’s just made up. It’s Brian Winchester making up a story to try to either reduce his 20-year sentence or avoid getting even more time.”


    Denise Williams and Brian Winchester conspired for nearly nine months to kill Mike Williams — her husband and his best friend — before finally springing their deadly trap on Dec. 16, 2000, at Lake Seminole in Jackson County, according to a charging document obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat.

    Winchester pulled the trigger, shooting and killing the 31-year-old real estate appraiser, according to a Leon County grand jury indictment charging Denise Williams with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact.

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  5. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Tammy, spike, noZme and 3 others like this.
  6. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member


    State investigating possible insurance fraud in Williams death

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has said he is directing his division to investigate alleged life insurance fraud in the aftermath of Denise Williams' arrest for her alleged involvement in the Murder of Mike Williams.

    In a statement, Patronis said:

    “As a result of the recent findings surrounding Mike Williams’ death, I have directed my office to investigate whether or not his death was part of a scheme to fraudulently profit from his life insurance policies. As this case remains ongoing, we ask members of the community to come forward with any information they may have surrounding this case.”
    This is a developing story story. We will bring you updates when we learn more.
    Tammy, spike, Akoya and 2 others like this.
  7. noZme

    noZme Bronze Member

    Perp walk & mugshot were a long time coming.
    Tammy, Uno2Much, spike and 2 others like this.
  8. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    @noZme - thank you for all of your efforts for Mike and his mom.
    Tammy, Scorpio, Uno2Much and 2 others like this.
  9. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    What a great perp walk!

    I wonder if she gave her co-workers the eebie jeebies.
    Scorpio, Akoya, Tammy and 1 other person like this.
  10. noZme

    noZme Bronze Member

    Mike Williams’ mom: 'They did not have the right to kill my son’
    Cheryl Williams was at home, getting over the nasty flu going around when her son Nick told her to get ready. The lawmen were on their way again to tell her in person about the next shoe to drop.

    They were the first ones to tell her his murdered body had been found. This time, word got to her before they did.

    Cheryl’s telephone started ringing just after 4 p.m. Tuesday when the Democrat reported the news. Her former daughter-in-law had been arrested, charged with the murder of her first-born son, Mike.

    Denise Merrell Williams was taken out of her Florida State University accounting office in handcuffs. She walked to the waiting FSU police SUV and into the Leon County jail wearing flip-flops.

    Six months after Mike disappeared and Denise had convinced a judge, without warning, to declare his death an accident. The move paved the way for her to collect $1.75 million in life insurance, including money from a policy written by Winchester months before Mike’s supposed accident.
    “She told me, ‘You do anything to get a criminal investigation and you will lose Anslee,’” recalled Cheryl, who can remember distant events like they happened yesterday. “Now, why would you do that unless you were guilty of something? She was telling me right then she knew what happened to Mike.”
    Cheryl finally got her investigation in 2004 and Denise Williams made good on her threat. She has not talked to Anslee since.


    & in other news,
    Denise's attorney has had a long time to practice this week's excuses & finger pointing. Lah-dee-dah, lah-dee-dah.
    Scorpio, Uno2Much, Akoya and 2 others like this.
  11. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member

    Uno2Much, Akoya, noZme and 1 other person like this.
  12. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member

    “Does it ever get to you?” State Attorney Office Investigator Jason Newlin asked.

    “Every day, man, every day. I regret it, everything,” Brian replied. “It affected me a lot more than Denise because Denise has an uncanny ability to live in denial. It’s weird, man, when you live a certain way, over a time period, and you act like something is the truth, it’s almost like you begin to believe it.”
    Uno2Much, Akoya and Tammy like this.
  13. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Double lives and a murder for marriage: Confession details plot to kill Mike Williams

    Jennifer Portman, News Director

    Mike Williams’ murder wasn’t a crime of passion.

    It was cold and calculated, Brian Winchester told investigators, the final act of a scheme he and Mike’s wife Denise hatched so the lovers could be together.

    It would look like an accident; her pious image wouldn’t be ruined by a divorce, they’d “live happily ever after,” he said. And with Mike’s nearly $2 million in life insurance, they’d be rich, too.

    But things didn’t go as planned, Winchester said in his sworn confession last fall. Not the killing he carried out, not the pact of silence that concealed the crime for 17 years, certainly not the everlasting love.

    Today, both are behind bars. The 47-year-old Winchester is serving a 20-year prison sentence for kidnapping Denise Williams, 48, in 2016. She’s in jail, arrested May 8 and charged with Mike’s murder, the planning of it and its cover-up.

    It's a salacious story, Williams’ criminal defense lawyer Ethan Way says — if it were true. Winchester acted alone, Way contends, and his concocted story about her involvement is pure fiction.

    She was not in any way a party to killing her 31-year-old husband, he said, and has no knowledge whatsoever about what Winchester, her ex-husband, did to Mike. Way says there is no evidence to back up his outrageous claims, provided only after he was given complete immunity from punishment for his admitted murder of Mike.

    "Brian Winchester got the sweetheart deal of the century," Way said. "He can say whatever he wants at this point. He has license to make up whatever he want to make up."

    Prosecutors are trying to hold the wrong person responsible for Mike's killing, Way insists, and he plans to prove her innocence at trial as soon as possible and will argue in court next week that she be let out of jail until then.

    All Denise ever knew was her husband went hunting one morning and never came home.

    But in sworn statements made to law enforcement officials and obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat, Winchester tells a different story.

    “Denise,” he said, “has had a double life going on for 20 years.”

    A storybook romance unravels
    The affair between Brian and Denise, who first met in preschool, began Oct. 13, 1997, he said, just three years after they’d both married their North Florida Christian High School sweethearts.

    The 1988 yearbook is packed with photos of them. Mike, a standout athlete and student council president, voted “best personality.” Denise, a cheerleader, voted “best dressed.” Kathy Aldridge, who became Kathy Winchester, also on the cheer squad, voted “best all around.” Brian, a key club member, whose senior portrait sits side-by-side with Mike’s.

    The two couples, lived parallel lives from high school on up, graduating together the same year, going to Florida State, getting married in 1994 and having their babies in 1999, two years after Brian said the affair began.

    When they rang in the new century and within a year all turned 30, they were the best of friends. Brian, who worked for his father's financial services firm, was “somewhat content" with the ongoing clandestine relationship. Denise, an accountant working for the state, was not.

    Mike Williams would not live to celebrate another new year.

    “I was manipulated in ways I didn’t know at the time,” Brian told investigators during one of three recorded statements made to investigators as part of a plea agreement and provided to the Democrat as part of a public records request.

    “I had a good wife, I had a kid and I had Denise on the side. This is messed up thinking, but in my mind, I had it pretty good,” he said. “Denise and Mike, on the other hand, they were at each other’s throats and she had two million reasons for this to happen.”

    Mike didn’t know about the affair, but he knew something was up. He was unhappy with his marriage, unhappy with his work as a real estate appraiser, and unhappy with his recently widowed mother, Brian said. Mike wanted a change – a new job, a new town, a new baby.

    Denise wanted none of those things.

    “Denise was getting worried that things were going to blow up,” Brian said.
    Uno2Much and Scorpio like this.
  14. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Scenarios 'snowballed' to murder
    Brian doesn’t remember who brought up the idea first. But sometime in early 2000, as he and Denise grew closer, Mike became more miserable and pressure began to mount. “The subject of Mike or Kathy’s deaths started coming up in conversations,” Brian told investigators.

    “Denise basically made it clear she would never get divorced, primarily because of appearances,” he explained. “She is ultra-concerned about the way she appears to the world.”

    There was only one way they were going to end up together. They started concocting “scenarios,” Brian said.

    In one, both couples would go boating. There’d be an accident and only Brian and Denise would survive. Brian said he nixed that idea because Kathy was the mother of his son. Her life also wasn’t insured for more than a million dollars.

    “The other scenario was where Mike and I went hunting and there was an accident and he didn’t make it, but I made it back to safety,” Brian said.

    “Denise has this thing where she gets people to do stuff for her and she minimizes her guilt or conscience or whatever in it,” he spoke haltingly, choosing his words. “She wanted it all to be on me and not on her, and she wanted in her mind a scenario where it wasn’t a murder but it was an accident.”

    The idea “snowballed,” Brian told investigators, and together they began to plot the details. During that time, about six or nine months before he was killed, Brian sold Mike – with Denise’s encouragement – a $1 million life insurance policy, supplementing the two others he had totaling $750,000.

    “We would be together and live happily ever after and, as a side note, we’d have all this money and enjoy a wonderful life together,” Brian said from his prison cell at the Wakulla Correctional Institute.

    “Stupid, stupid 30-year-old.”

    Waders were the murder weapon of choice
    By December, the tension reached a crescendo.

    Increasingly suspicious, Mike had gone to Denise’s mother concerned about missing money from their accounts and cash disappearing. Was she having an affair? Was she doing drugs?

    Denise and Mike’s sixth wedding anniversary was looming. He was pressing her to have another baby and planned a spring trip with her to Hawaii. And one of those three life insurance policies – the $500,000 one from Cotton States – was about to lapse.

    “Her daughter was getting older,” Brian added, “and if something were going to happen to Mike she wanted her to be young enough so she wouldn’t remember.”

    Saturday, Dec. 9, 2000, was to be the day. Waders were to be the murder weapon.

    Brian would take Mike long before dawn to a “secret “duck hunting spot at Lake Seminole in Jackson County. Brian knew the lake, knew the landing he would launch from, knew the depth of the water. The distance from Tallahassee – about an hour away – was a problem, but he said, “for what we had planned to happen it seemed to be the best location.”

    Denise would see to it Mike would go. Their alibis were well rehearsed, Winchester said as part of the plea deal.

    Brian would do the crime early, then actually go hunting with his father-in-law, who could vouch for his whereabouts. Denise would stay at home with 18-month-old Anslee and make a few calls from the house to prove she’d been there.

    But hours before they were to head out, Mike called Brian. He had to cancel. Brian contacted Denise as soon as he could. She said she got cold feet and called it off.

    “I was relieved, but I was like, ‘What the hell?’ This isn’t something to be wishy-washy over,” Brian told investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Within days, Denise regained her resolve, Brian said.

    She was set to go with Mike to Apalachicola for their anniversary trip the next Saturday afternoon, Dec. 16. She didn’t want to have sex with him and get in another fight about it. And that $500,000 was about to disappear.

    Brian needed to take care of things that morning before she had to go to the Gibson Inn.
    Uno2Much, Tammy and Scorpio like this.
  15. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Mike Williams' final moments
    Mike spent the last Friday night of his life ringing the bell for the Salvation Army Christmas red kettle collection, then went home to Denise and Anslee.

    Brian and Kathy got a babysitter for their toddler son, Stafford, and went to Floyd’s MusicStore to see the band Vast. She had a few drinks and fell asleep hard, Brian said.

    “Denise and I had agreed we would have very limited communication, as limited as we could make it prior to the incident and after the incident just to avoid detection,” he told investigators.

    Early Saturday morning Brian met Mike at a gas station on Thomasville Road near I-10.

    “I told him not to call me, that my phone wasn’t working because I didn’t want any record of phone calls,” Brian stammered, his voice breaking.

    Mike didn’t think anything of it. He led the way in his gold Ford Bronco to the lake, with Brian following in his white Chevy Suburban. They got to the deserted landing in the dark and launched Mike’s boat.

    “It was just like a hunting trip is supposed to be,” Brian said.

    And that’s what it would have appeared to have been – a sad, tragic, hunting trip – when Mike Williams accidentally fell from the small boat wearing his waders and sunk like a stone. That was the plan.

    Mike was wearing those waders – the ones assumed for so long to have been planted – and he did fall into the lake, but it was no accident.

    “We got to the area where his waders and jacket were found,” Brian said, pausing frequently as he recounted the murder for the record.

    “I got him to stand up and I pushed him into the water – he, he got his jacket off and his waders off and he was in a panic, obviously. I was in a panic. I was driving the boat –and I didn’t know what to do – and I ended up shooting him.”

    Shot him right in the head with a cheap 12-gauge shotgun.

    Brian cried, blew his nose, heaved a deep sigh and continued: “He went under the water and -- so I found him in the water and I drug him to the shoreline.”

    He ran back along River Road to the landing where they parked, got his truck and backed it to the edge of the lake. He put Mike’s dead body in the back and pushed his boat out into the water. As he sped away,

    Brian said he broke down the shotgun he’d bought from an FSU student and threw the pieces out the window.

    He rushed home and slipped into bed with Kathy, pretending he never left but had overslept, missing his hunting date with her father. He called him on the home phone to apologize so there would be a record.

    Kathy stayed in bed and Brian drove to the Walmart on north Thomasville Road, where he bought a blue tarp and a shovel. Mike’s bloody body was in the back the whole time.

    “I almost think I was in some kind of shock because there isn’t a lot I can remember about that day,” Brian said.

    Hours later, he’d act surprised when he and his dad Marcus Winchester would find Mike’s boat about 2 a.m. the next day as they helped to search the lake for the body he knew wasn’t there.

    Haunted by the secret
    Over the last 17 years, Brian told investigators he and Denise had a lot of conversations about Mike. But he did not tell her everything.

    “She does not know that the plan that she had come up with, that was agreed upon, she does not know that is not what happened,” he said in an October interview. “I didn’t want her to know the truth about how things went down; she didn’t know Mike was shot and I didn’t want her to know that part.”

    He tried once to tell her, he said, but Denise didn't want to know.

    Days after first spilling his story to law enforcement, Brian would lead them to the spot at the end of Gardner Road where they recovered Mike’s buried bones and his skull, riddled with shotgun pellets.

    Once and for all the inane theory Mike was eaten by alligators was put to rest.

    There was nothing special about the burial site at the edge of what was then Carr Lake’s dry shore – it was familiar to Brian as a kid growing up in northern Leon County hunting. Back in 2000, it was remote, but he could get to it easily in his truck.

    The slope to the lake was far steeper than it is now. He dug a hole about two feet deep, put Mike and the tarp in and filled in the dirt.

    The high bank helped conceal his gruesome work from a man who showed up looking to hunt deer on the dry lake bottom. Brian engaged the man who was none the wiser. Brian said he watched him walk away until he was out of sight.

    Over the years, Brian would go to the site randomly, just to check. He worried the landing would eventually be developed. He considered moving the body but never did.

    “Does it ever get to you?” State Attorney Office Investigator Jason Newlin asked.

    “Every day, man, every day. I regret it, everything,” Brian replied. “It affected me a lot more than Denise because Denise has an uncanny ability to live in denial. It’s weird, man, when you live a certain way, over a time period, and you act like something is the truth, it’s almost like you begin to believe it.”

  16. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    A marriage reinforced by 'mutual destruction'
    They waited an appropriate amount of time, almost five years to the day, before getting married. They swore to each other, Brian said, they would never, ever tell.

    “It was discussed and agreed on multiple occasions that neither one of us would ever say anything no matter how much pressure we were put under,” Brian told investigators.

    “We felt like neither one of us was going to be held responsible unless one of us flipped on each other,” he explained. “It was a cold war, the theory of mutual destruction. If you tell on me, I’ll tell on you.”

    They took precautions. After Mike’s mother, Cheryl Williams, got law enforcement involved, they developed hand gestures – the letter “C” – to signal when they needed to talk about Mike.

    They’d meet outside in parks, such as the Miccosukee Greenway, Brian said. It was across from Mike and Denise’s house, the one he moved into when they married in December 2005. For years law enforcement believed that was where Mike was killed.

    Brian and Denise became convinced the place was bugged and the phone was tapped. They thought their cell phones were being used for surveillance. As their paranoia grew, Brian said they’d pat each other down for a wire before talking.

    As time went on, Denise wanted to talk about Mike less and less. While Brian followed every news story, he said Denise shielded herself from anything to do with her husband’s mysterious disappearance, which eventually became a subject of international speculation and one of the hottest cold cases in town.

    “She preferred to live in la-la land where she pretended she had nothing to do with it,” Brian said.

    “It got to where she believed nothing would ever transpire from it from a law enforcement perspective so her story that she needed to believe — what she told her daughter and told herself and be able to live with herself — was the story we created for her, which was she was at home with her baby, Mike went hunting and she has no idea what happened.”

    Their relationship began to fall apart. By 2012, when they separated and he moved out of her house, their marriage was in shambles. Brian said she played the victim and made him out to be the bad guy, but she was no saint. Cheating on Mike was the least of it, he told investigators.

    “Her friends don’t know the truth about Denise,” he said. “Not just the affair, but behaving behind closed doors in a way if her friends and family found out they would completely disown her... Sexually she was off the charts."

    Denise finally filed for divorce in 2016 and Brian became unhinged. His son, Stafford, now about to graduate high school, found photos on the phone of his dad – an admitted sex addict — with prostitutes. The boy moved in with his mother full time.

    Brian’s own mother was diagnosed with the aggressive cancer that would swiftly kill her. And Denise, she wouldn’t talk to him anymore.

    He was convinced when the divorce was done and the protection of marital privilege was gone she would “cave” or try to pin everything on him. Denise assured him – even as he held a gun to her ribs that August day, triggering the spilling of 17 years of secrets – she would never tell.

    She kept her promise.

    Brian told prosecutors there was no scenario for what would happen if one of them was arrested and revealed what really happened that December morning, who planned what and how it was concealed for so long.

    “It was set in stone,” he said. "It was set in stone."

    Contact Jennifer Portman at jpormtan@tallaahssee.com
  17. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    And there we have it. How people plan and execute a murder.

  18. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Lawyer: Mike Williams was killed by Brian Winchester; Denise Williams is innocent
    Jennifer Portman, News DirectorPublished 5:30 p.m. ET May 9, 2018 | Updated 6:12 p.m. ET May 9, 2018

    Ethan Way, Denise Williams' criminal defense attorney, says she's innocent in the murder of Mike Williams. Jennifer Portman, News Director

    Denise Williams and Brian Winchester conspired for nearly nine months to murder her husband and his best friend, Mike Williams, a Leon County grand jury concluded.

    Winchester pulled the trigger on the gun that killed the 31-year-old real estate appraiser on Dec. 16, 2000, the jurors found. Denise Williams helped plan the killing at Lake Seminole in Jackson County that morning, they said, and actively worked for years to cover up the crime.

    The new details in the 17-year-old mystery were revealed in court documents charging Denise Williams with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact. She was arrested Tuesday afternoon at her office at Florida State University, minutes after the indictment was issued and is being kept in jail without bail.

    But her Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer, Ethan Way, said the grand jury, which heard only what prosecutors wanted it to know, indicted the wrong person.

    'Nothing to do' with death, disappearance
    Denise Williams is innocent, he said.

    "My client had absolutely nothing to do with Mike Williams' disappearance and had absolutely nothing to do with any of the crimes that Brian Winchester committed," Way said after her brief first court appearance Wednesday. "We will fight this until the end. And I'm certain when a jury hears from Denise Williams and the facts come out, the inescapable conclusion is that Brian Winchester killed Mike Williams."

    Denise Williams faces life insurance fraud probe related to Mike Williams' death

    Winchester's fate
    Assistant State Attorney Jon Fuchs, the lead prosecutor on the case, said Wednesday he had “no comment at this time” on why Winchester has not been charged.

    Fuchs dismissed Way’s assertion that Winchester lied about Denise Williams’ involvement in the murder to benefit or protect himself.

    “Mr. Way hasn’t started the discovery process so he’s not aware of what evidence the state has,” Fuchs said. “So I think any comment at this point on what evidence we do or do not have is premature to say the least.”

    Winchester likely testified to the grand jury on Tuesday before it leveled criminal charges against his ex-wife, Way said, based on records that show for a time that day he was checked out of the Wakulla Correctional Institution. Denise Williams was not called to present her side of the story to the secret panel, Way added, nor has she been directly questioned by law enforcement about her husband’s homicide in years.

    "It’s not even flipping. It’s fiction," Way said of Winchester’s assumed testimony. "It’s just made up. It’s Brian Winchester making up a story to try to either reduce his 20-year sentence or avoid getting even more time.”

    Fuchs said his case is solid.

    “We had a jury of (her) peers review the probable cause as well as all the facts of the case, listen to testimony yesterday and return a true bill for indictment. And there is evidence of their guilt,” he said.

    A disappearance and a marriage
    Mike Williams' was first thought to be the victim of a terrible accident. On a solo duck hunting trip the morning before he was to celebrate his sixth wedding anniversary with a romantic night in Apalachicola, fell from his boat and tragically drowned. Maybe his body was eaten by alligators. That was the story.

    Though Mike's body was the only one never to be recovered from the lake, Denise Williams, convinced a county judge in fewer than six months to declare her husband accidentally dead, allowing her to collect $1.75 million in life insurance. One of the policies was written by Winchester six months before Mike was killed.

    By 2005, Denise Williams and Winchester were married.

    The marital union deteriorates
    The grand jury named Denise Williams a “principal” in the murder of her high school sweetheart and father to their only child. In her indictment for being an accessory after the fact, grand jurors said she actively covered up the crime between Aug. 1, 2014, and Dec. 19, 2017.

    Dec. 19 was the day Winchester was sentenced for kidnapping her at gunpoint. At the hearing, Williams begged the judge to send him to prison for life.

    During the time of the alleged cover-up, the marital union between Williams and Winchester was failing. She’d filed for divorce. He hid in the back of her car, surprising her on the way to work with a gun stuck in her ribs. He wanted to talk.

    Court documents in the kidnapping case indicated he abducted her because she would no longer return his calls. He was afraid once the divorce was final she’d go to the police and tell them what really happened to Mike.

    The body discovered
    On Dec. 20, the day after Winchester was sent to prison, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement made the stunning announcement Mike’s body had been found and he’d been murdered. He’d been buried all along at the dead end of Gardner Road, less than five miles from where he grew up off Bull Headley Road.

    Less than six months later, FDLE made its first and so far, only arrest in the Mike Williams case.

    Denise Williams appeared before County Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson on closed-circuit TV from the Leon County Detention Facility in red and white striped jail garb. She said virtually nothing, just answered the judge's procedural questions with a yes or no.

    Way entered a not guilty plea and asked for a jury trial, according to court records. He plans to file a motion seeking bail, which Fuchs will oppose.

    The case was assigned to Leon Circuit Judge James Hankinson, who is expected to take up the matter later this month.

    Contact News Director Jennifer Portman at jportman@tallahassee.com
  19. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Does anyone know if Cheryl has been able to see Ainslee?
    Kimster, Scorpio and Tammy like this.
  20. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Them getting married after the murder erases all doubt to me that she didn't know a thing. Come on.
    Tammy and Scorpio like this.

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