Tallahassee Widow Indicted for Murder in Relation to Husband’s Disappearance in 2000

A Tallahassee grand jury opened a new chapter in an almost two-decade-old cold case last week when they indicted the widow of a man missing since 2000 for his murder.

Denise Merrell Williams, now 48, is now facing charges in relation to the disappearance of her late husband Mike in December 2000. Then 31, Mike went duck hunting at Lake Seminole, but never returned from the trip.

A subsequent investigation turned up his empty boat, loaded with hunting equipment and with the engine in the “on” position, drifting upon the lake. They say Mike, who had a child with Denise, planned to meet her after the excursion to celebrate the couple’s sixth anniversary.

Though Mike’s body had yet to be discovered, Denise successfully appealed to a court to declare him dead and naming her the executor of his estate. The death declaration held one other important benefit – it allowed her to obtain over $2 million from a life insurance policy that had been set up just six months prior to his disappearance.

Alhough Mike’s estate was settled, his family was far from satisfied. Petitioning law enforcement and local news outlets to investigate, they kept the spotlight on Denise and her new husband Brian Winchester. Not lost on anyone involved in the case was the fact that Brian helped Mike apply for the life insurance policy that was paid out to Denise upon Mike’s demise.

Brian and Denise went on to remain married for over a decade, but ultimately parted ways. However, in 2016 Brian kidnapped Denise at the point of a gun, allegedly in a desperate effort at preventing her from relating to investigators the true story of Mike’s disappearance.

Brian was tried and convicted for the kidnapping, earning a sentence of two decades in Florida prison. The day after Brian’s sentencing, investigators revealed that they located Mike’s mortal remains.

Denise Williams is now facing charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree murder, and accessory after the fact of first-degree murder. She is currently being held in the Leon County Jail without bond.

The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.

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