Cops thought alligators ate Florida man in 2000. Now, his widow faces murder charges

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida woman is accused of killing her husband more than 17 years after he vanished ahead of a celebration for their sixth wedding anniversary.

Denise Williams, 48, was arrested Tuesday on first-degree murder charges, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. It was a dramatic turn in a cold case broken wide open by the discovery of Mike Williams' body in December.

It turned out the 31-year-old hadn't fallen from a boat while duck hunting on Lake Seminole in 2000 and been eaten by alligators, as was long speculated. He was instead murdered, his body dumped near a boat landing in Tallahassee, reports Fox News. The announcement of its discovery came a day after Mike's best friend, Brian Winchester, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the armed kidnapping of Denise, whom he married in 2005.

In June 2001, Mike had been declared dead by "accidental drowning" at Denise's request, per the Democrat. She collected more than $2 million from life insurance policies, including a $1 million policy sold to Mike by Winchester. Though Denise and Winchester would later marry, the pair divorced in 2015, and in 2016, Winchester kidnapped Denise at gunpoint.

Documents from his sentencing show he was fearful of what Denise might tell police about Mike's disappearance. An indictment now says Denise conspired with Winchester to shoot and kill her husband, per WCTV. Says Winchester's lawyer, "we don't anticipate him being charged," and "if he's subpoenaed or granted immunity, he will cooperate and testify truthfully."

Denise's lawyer says she'll fight the charges. "There's been a drum beat against her for years, but she has nothing to do with Mike Williams' death," he says.

This article originally appeared on Newser: Cops Thought Alligators Got Him. Now His Widow Is Arrested

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