CAPE GIRGARDEAU, MO (KTVI) - A first degree murder charge has been filed against Clay Waller, the estranged husband of Jacque Waller, who vanished more than ten months ago near Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Waller had been the prime suspect practically from the start, and even though Jacque`s body has not been found, Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle said there is enough evidence now to bring the murder charge.
"My conclusion is the body may never be found and we are just not going to wait for that to happen," Swingle said.
It`s the news a lot of people have been waiting to hear, including Jacque Waller`s family.
"They are pleased, but it`s hard to be very jubilant about something when your daughter has been murdered, your son-in-law is accused of that, and you`ve got six year old triplets who want to know where mommy and daddy are, and there are no good answers to give them," said Laura Long Helbig, a family spokesperson.
Jacque Waller disappeared on June 1, 2011 shortly after meeting with Clay Waller at a divorce attorney`s office.
Several days later, investigators searching Clay Waller`s home found blood on a hallway wall and scraps of blood stained carpet stuffed into the crawl space.
Swingle says he held off filing charges until now because investigators were waiting for some test results, though he would not be specific about the evidence involved.
Under Missouri law, Swingle says he cannot seek the death penalty in this case.
"The prosecutor, in order to seek the death penalty has to be able to prove one of 17 aggravating factors listed by statute and none of them apply here," Swingle said.
Examples of those kinds of circumstances include torturing a murder victim, murdering more than one person, or murdering a police officer.
Along with murder, Waller is also charged with two counts of Tampering with Evidence, for allegedly hiding Jacque`s body, as well as the blood stained scraps of carpet found in his home.
Friends and neighbors from Farmington, where Jacque`s immediate family lives, are happy the case is moving forward.
"I think everything kind of led that way anyway but finally maybe the family can have some closure over this. We hated it for them, anytime you are missing someone and can`t find them you want answers and they just wasn`t getting any," said Kenny Burch, who had once been a neighbor of Jacque`s family.
"There is a bit of hope that perhaps he`ll decide that this is a good time to confess and tell law enforcement where Jacque is in return for a lesser sentence. I don`t know if that will happen but it is one of the things you hope for," Helbig said.
Bond for Clay Waller is set at $1,000,000 but it`s a moot point because he is already in a federal prison in Louisiana, serving a 5 year sentence for threatening Jacque`s sister over the internet.
Because Waller is in Louisiana, it may be 45 to 60 days before he can be brought to Jackson, Missouri for arraignment.
In the meantime, Jacque`s children are living with her sister and brother-in-law.
"They miss their mother terribly, they ask about their dad. I think they have come to the realization that mommy is not coming home, but why she`s gone, or that she has come to some sort of horrible end I don`t think has dawned on them," Helbig said, adding, "they do refer to as being in heaven sometimes."
Speaking on behalf of his family, Jacque's father, Stan Rawson said, "There is a bit of relief in knowing that charges have been brought against Clay Waller. Perhaps he will finally feel compelled to reveal the location of our daughter and sibling, mother and friend, Jacque Waller. We are extremely grateful to the law enforcement team that has spent countless hours investigating Jacque's disappearance as they put together their case against Clay. The case is now in the hands of the prosecuting attorney, and we are confident that we will now finally get justice for our girl. Over the last ten months we been the recipients of amazing support from people around the world; we are especially thankful for their many prayers and good wishes and ask that those continue. What we want more than anything, however, is to have Jacque home with her family and finally at rest. We ask that people respect our privacy as the case against Waller unfolds. It is now in the hands of the courts."
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