Illinois man pleads guilty to 2014 murder of wife

Friday, June 9, 2017

CHARLESTON, Mo. -- In what's deemed by Mississippi County Prosecuting Attorney Darren Cann as a surprise move, an Illinois man on Thursday entered a guilty plea in the 2014 murder of his wife.

Clifford Williams, 47, of Ullin, Ill, entered a plea of guilty to one count of first-degree murder and one count of armed criminal action Thursday before Circuit Judge Fred Copeland at the New Madrid County Courthouse in New Madrid, according to a news release from Cann.

A jury trial for Williams had been set to begin June 22. The charges stem from the murder of Williams' wife, Sylvia Tipler, on or about Oct. 8, 2014, in Mississippi County. Tipler's body was found Oct. 12, 2014, near a levee in Mississippi County. Her family reported missing to the Illinois State Police on Oct. 10, 2014.

During the investigation conducted by the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Illinois State Police and Charleston Department of Public Safety, it was found that on Oct. 8, 2014, Tipler and Williams left Tipler's mother's residence in Ullin, the news release said. Shortly after that, Tipler's family lost all contact with her.

During an interview conducted by Sgt. S. Rawson, of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Williams indicated that he and Tipler were "riding and arguing," and when they were in the area of Wilson City, he hit Tipler in the nose. He "didn't want anyone to see them fight" so they traveled to a levee near Wilson City where they "got out of the car and started to fight."

Williams then said he "blacked out and something bad happened." The pathologist, Dr. Russell Deidiker, concluded that the cause of death was "craniocerebral injuries, due to blunt force trauma to the back of the head," according to the news release. Deidiker also said that Sylvia "was struck multiple times, creating a gaping laceration in the posterior scalp with associated underlying skull fracture" and that there were "multiple injuries elsewhere on the scalp, face and left neck, some of which are consistent with knife wounds." There were also "knife wounds [to the] right chest, and accompanying blunt force trauma to the chest, with associated fracture of the sternum and the bilateral ribs."

Tipler also had "punctures and incised-like" wounds on her hands which were consistent with "defense-type" wounds; she had fractures in her left hand and her right forearm.

"This was an absolutely brutal murder," Cann said.

Williams was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on the murder in the first degree count and 30 years in prison on the armed criminal action count.

Tipler's mother, sister, daughter, grandson and granddaughter were present when Williams entered his plea. Williams cried as he was sentenced, according to Cann.

"Sylvia's family has been through so much since October of 2014," the prosecutor said. "This case is one of the most vile, cruel and brutal murders that I've dealt with. I hope with his plea and sentence now in the past, it will bring them some peace as they move forward."

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