Jacque's sister asks Clay Waller: Does she haunt you? - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Jacque's sister asks Clay Waller: Does she haunt you?

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Cheryl Brenneke address Clay Waller in court. Cheryl Brenneke address Clay Waller in court.
Clay Waller Clay Waller
Clay Waller walks into the courthouse on Thursday, June 6 (Source: KFVS Photojournalist Joshua Russell). Clay Waller walks into the courthouse on Thursday, June 6 (Source: KFVS Photojournalist Joshua Russell).
Where Jacque was buried (Source: Lt. David James) Where Jacque was buried (Source: Lt. David James)
Map of where Jacque was found (Source: Lt. David James) Map of where Jacque was found (Source: Lt. David James)

Clay Waller pleaded guilty to second degree murder of his estranged wife Jacque Waller.

He was sentenced to 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

"20 years in prison is not what you deserve, but it will have to do," said Judge Benjamin Lewis.

How Jacque was murdered

The stipulations of the plea deal were that Waller had to provide the location of the body, law enforcement had to find the body, and he had to recount how he killed Jacque.

Waller gave the interview recounting how he did it on Monday.

He told officials he struck Jacque in the head and face with his fist, put his forearm on her neck, and suffocated her with all of his body weight.

When the judge asked him where he did it, he said at his house in Jackson on Woodland Drive.

"We got into an argument," Clay Waller said. "I lost my temper and I caused her death."

Maddox's message

Cheryl Brenneke, Jacque's sister, gave a victim impact statement and talked for about 10 minutes. Jacque's 7-year-old triplets have been living with her sister and brother-in-law.

"Does she haunt you?" said Cheryl Brenneke. "Do you see it? Do you see the life go out of her eyes, Clay? Do you re-play in your mind putting her in that hole you dug the day before? And with each shovel of dirt covering her body? Do you see it over and over? I pray that you do."

Brenneke said she "did not want the deal," but she loved her mom and dad and the children enough to agree to the deal.

Waller fidgeted from foot to foot as Brenneke was talking. He never turned to look at her.

Waller's son Maddox asked his aunt Cheryl if he could be in court and asked if they could play a recording for dad. She said she would give it to the lawyer and she'll decide.

An audio recording of Maddox was played during the hearing.

"You killed our mom. You're a big fat jerk," said son Maddox.

"I wish you were never my dad."

"Please stay in jail forever."

"I never want to see you again."

"We don't like you anymore."

Several members of law enforcement cried and wiped tears during the hearing.

Waller walked in to the courtroom at 1:26 p.m. and walked out at 1:50 p.m.

He could have faced 10 to 20 years or life in prison.

Background info

Waller initially pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. He was set to stand trial in September. That changed when investigators found Jacque's body. The remains of Jacque Waller were recovered by law enforcement on Wednesday, May 29.

Investigators say Jacque Waller and Clay Waller got into a fight at a home he was staying in on June 1, 2011.

The homeowner and a neighbor told police they saw Jacque's Honda Pilot where Clay Waller was staying, and later saw Clay leave in his truck pulling a boat.

Jacque's SUV was later found abandoned on Interstate 55 just south of Fruitland the next day.

Law enforcement, friends, and volunteers have organized many searches for Jacque's body, but had found little clues about where her body was located.

In fact, police say family friend Bob Sherill was right beside that spot with cadaver dogs, but Jacque was deep enough and the soil was acidic and sandy that the dogs did not pick it up. The Major Case Squad team was right on top of it literally in the area where she was found at one point during one of the many searches.

News conference

"It's an important day for justice in Cape Girardeau County," said Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting attorney Chris Limbaugh.

Concerning the plea deal, the Limbaugh says the family felt it was more important to get Jacque home.

"Today brings a bittersweet ending to one of the highest profile homicide cases in Cape Girardeau County history," said Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan. "Bittersweet: Sweet in that, Clay Waller is now a confessed murderer and publicly had to confess his crime in a court of law. It's bitter in the respect that none of us here believe Clay's punishment fits his crime."

Stan Rawson, Jacque's father

When Stan Rawson, Jacque's father, came to the podium during the news conference and showed a picture of Jacque saying, "This is what it's all about folks. I don't know what we're going to do without her."

"Two years ago when Jacque went missing I asked Ruby what we were going to do and we put it in the Lord's hands," Rawson said.

"Clay did a good job hiding her we all agree on that."

"I can't brag on law enforcement and prosecutor's office and all them enough," Rawson said. "Our heart goes out to them and the work they do every day and we support them 100 percent."

"We were fortunate from day one, we knew who the perpetrator was," said Rawson. He said that Jacque was smart in keeping a diary.

"We didn't take her seriously folks, it was my fault she is dead today," Rawson said.

"She said 'Clay's going to kill me one day Dad. He's crazy now...Don't talk to him, it'll only make it worse.'" Rawson says Jacque suffered from abused spouse syndrome.

"She thought she could control him, needless to say she couldn't."

Rawson thanked the Facebook friends on the "Find Jacque Waller" page and said it really played a difference in the case.

"Because of Jacque, we all love a little bit stronger."

"In my opinion, Clay Waller didn't get everything he deserved, but he did deserve everything he got," Rawson said.

"I think what he is counting on is the parole system and all that," said Stan Rawson, Jacque's dad. "But, he's not counting on the efforts we are going to make to keep him in, just as bad as he is going to try to get out on parole. So, we are really not upset with that. I can't imagine the other inmates putting up with him that long, to tell you the truth."

Rawson thanked law enforcement, searchers, and the Find Jacque Waller Facebook friends. The page has 18,000 likes, and Rawson said it's a great way to spread the message of how dangerous domestic violence can be. 

Officials explain how they found Jacque

Police say they do not believe that Waller had any accomplices. Police say however that there are a few unanswered questions from Waller.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Angel Woodruff says no deals were made with any other authorities.

Jacque was killed sometime in the afternoon of June 1 and then she was taken over two Illinois later that evening in a trash can in his truck and then in a boat.

Her body was found south and east of a channel between Devil's Island and the main bank of the Mississippi River on private land in Alexander County.

[See this enlarged image of the map of where Jacque's body was found.]

She was buried about six feet deep in sand. Police say it was in an isolated location hard to get to by land.

Woodruff says Waller admitted that he pre-dug the hole Jacque was buried in. She says cell phone information confirms he flew over the area after he dug the hole and sent lots of text messages to Jacque to get her to lower her guard.

Woodruff says Waller was less than forthcoming about the planning of the murder. 

"No doubt he lied to us all day on Monday," Woodruff said.

"He's a liar and the truth doesn't live within him," said Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan.

"Clay Waller's primary motivation is Clay Waller," Woodruff said.

Sheriff Jordan says Waller tricked Jacque into coming to Waller's house by saying their son Maddox was there. The boy was actually staying with Waller's girlfriend in Illinois.

Plea agreement

Woodruff says the defense came to her about three weeks ago concerning a plea agreement. She said they had to choose between giving Waller what he deserved or give Jacque what she deserved and ultimately Jacque won out.

Waller has been in jail on the murder charge for one year and gets credit for one year against the 20 years sentence.

Woodruff says they met with Jacque's family before he was charged with murder and 20 years was a number they felt comfortable with.

"We all wanted him to have 20 to 25 years and to get Jacque back," Rawson said. "The object was to get Jacque back."

Waller is in the Cape Girardeau Jail, but will soon be transferred to a facility within the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Prosecutors expect Waller to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Stay with Heartland News and kfvs12.com for updates.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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