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May 11, 2018
A Florida woman who was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the death of her husband — who supposedly went missing on a duck-hunting trip 17 years ago — plotted his death for months, according to an indictment released Wednesday.
Denise Williams, 48, was arrested Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and accessory after the fact in her husband Mike Williams’ December 2000 killing.
The grand jury indictment accused Denise of conspiring with Brian Winchester, her husband’s best friend and her eventual husband, for more than nine months before Winchester shot him. Winchester allegedly helped Mike write a $1 million insurance policy six months before he disappeared, and later married his widow.
The case had long been considered suspicious. Mike disappeared after he supposedly went duck hunting alone on a lake near Tallahassee.
His body wasn’t initially found after an extensive search in and around Lake Seminole and a theory spread that he was eaten by an alligator — a theory Denise used when she petitioned for her husband’s death to be declared accidental.
The theory was debunked when the body was discovered in December 2017, buried under muck near a boat landing in Tallahassee, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Denise married Winchester in December 2005, but they divorced in 2016.
Last year, Winchester pleaded no contest to kidnapping Denise at gunpoint, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The very next day, authorities announced that Mike's remains were found at the end of a dead-end road after they received "new information." The body had been discovered two months earlier, but the state's Department of Law Enforcement needed to confirm through DNA tests that it was actually Mike.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said Wednesday that he has directed the state's Division of Investigative and Forensic Services to investigate Denise and Winchester for alleged life insurance fraud in the case.