Daniel DeWild gets 74 years in murder of wife Heather DeWild in 2003

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - The Edgewater man who admitted to killing his wife is going to prison for 74 years.

That's one year less than the maximum.

Heather DeWild disappeared in July 2003. Her body was found six weeks later.

Nearly ten years later, Heather's family is relieved.

"You kind of start to feel like nothing is going to happen," said Heather's sister, Rebecca Barger. "So the fact something happened and they are having to face what they did to some degree, in my mind it's almost a miracle we even got to here."

In December, a jury convicted Heather's husband, Daniel DeWild, of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and of being an accessory to murder, but deadlocked on the murder charge itself. A judge declared a mistrial on that count and set a new trial date for Jan. 8.

However, instead of a second trial, DeWild agreed to a plea bargain. In court, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

On Thursday morning, the judge sentenced DeWild to 74 years in prison. Heather's father, sister and grandmother spoke to the judge before he made his decision.

"Daniel destroyed the life of a very unique and loving person, whose greatest joy was her children," Heather's father, David Springer, told the judge. "He destroyed the life of his children, he destroyed life of his own family members. All for unnecessary greed and ego that accomplished nothing."

The judge said DeWild's two children have suffered for nine years while their father lied about killing their mother.

"They've [the kids] never gone on vacation really, they've never gone to Disneyland," said Heather's sister, Jennifer Springer. "Now that they don't have a visitation [with their Dad] and they're not pulled away from their family, we can bond with them and enjoy activities with them."

Daniel waived his right to speak. Part of his plea agreement prohibits him from appealing the sentence at a later date.

 

--History of Heather DeWild's murder in 2003--

Prosecutors said Daniel and his twin, David, plotted the murder together.

David DeWild pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and testified in court that his brother was the one who hung Heather in July 2003, just days before their divorce was scheduled to be finalized.

According to court documents, Daniel tried to reconcile his marriage by bringing flowers and a card to Heather at her parents' home on July 22, 2003. She declined and he left in a fit of anger.

Two days later, Daniel created a ruse to get Heather to come to his house, a grand jury report said. She thought she was going to sign a mortgage check and pick up insurance cards for their children. She brought her children, a 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, because she didn't want to be alone with Daniel.

When interviewed by police the next day, the boy said he saw his father sneaking up behind his mother's back. The boy also told detectives that he didn't know why his parents were fighting.

Heather wasn't seen alive again.

The jury heard testimony at trial that Daniel DeWild lured Heather into the garage, then threw the petite, 4’10 woman to the ground. He then he hit her in the head with a mallet.  David DeWild testified that Daniel tied a noose around her neck, attached it to a pulley system that he had devised using a beam in the garage ceiling, and pulled her up until she was hanging.

Daniel then tied her hands and feet, wrapped her in trash bags and put her body in the back of his brother’s Suburban, according to David's testimony.

David DeWild testified saying that he had disposed of her body. He drove the Suburban, with Heather’s body in the back, to the location where it was discovered six weeks later by a Department of Transportation worker moving dirt on Highway 6 between Golden and Black Hawk. The body in the shallow grave was badly decomposed, but dental records confirmed that it was Heather.

Her neck and wrist had been loosely bound with rope.

Family members remember Heather as a shy woman with a good sense of humor.

They said the plea agreement is a gift that will spare them from sitting through another trial.

David's wife had initially been charged with conspiracy in connection with the case, but those charges were later dropped.