COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Missouri man plans to plead guilty to murder in the killing of his estranged wife, a mother of triplets who was missing for almost two years, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Cape Girardeau public defender Christopher Davis told The Associated Press that Clay Waller will confess to killing 39-year-old Jacque Waller at a hearing Thursday afternoon. Waller’s body was found May 29 on a Mississippi River island in Alexander County, Ill.
“I expect a plea of guilty,” Davis said. Davis declined to discuss whether Clay Waller led police to his wife’s body or any particulars about a possible plea bargain, including whether he will admit guilt to avoid the death penalty. Assistant prosecuting attorney Angel Woodruff also declined to discuss the plea details before the trial.
Jacque Waller had been missing since June 1, 2011, the same day the couple met with a divorce lawyer. Police said they had been living apart for about three months and had financial problems.
Clay Waller was charged last year with first-degree murder and had faced a September trial. Jacque Waller’s sister, Cheryl Brenneke, has custody of their 7-year-old triplets.
Jacque Waller’s Honda Pilot was found along Interstate 55 a day after she disappeared. Several searches since then turned up sporadic leads, including the discovery of her purse near where the car was found.
The FBI said last year that Clay Waller suggested to his father that he had broken Jacque Waller’s neck and buried her in a hole that he had dug in advance. But Clay Waller has not made any confession to police, and his father died before he could testify.
A funeral for Jacque Waller is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Esther Baptist Church in Park Hills. Visitation begins at 9 a.m.
Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier