Clay Waller makes court appearance on murder charge

Clay Waller appeared via video conference on Monday.
Clay Waller appeared via video conference on Monday.

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Clay Waller appeared in a Jackson courtroom at 11 a.m. Monday on murder charges relating to his estranged wife's disappearance.

Jacque Waller went missing just over a year ago. Back in April, prosecutors filed charges against Clay Waller in connection to her alleged death. Clay Waller is also accused of tampering with evidence.

The judge asked Waller if he understood the charges, Waller responding with saying "yes".

Judge Gary Kamp then told Waller a public defender would be assigned to him, and Waller asked if he would be able to hire an attorney.

Scott Reynolds has served as Clay Waller's attorney since the beginning, and was not present in court on Monday.

Reynolds tells Heartland News he will not be paying for this case out of his own pocket.

Waller's preliminary hearing is set for July 25.

Waller is expected to remain in Cape County until that court date.

Clay Waller has been serving time in Louisiana after pleading guilty to making an internet threat.

Jacque Waller has been missing since June 1, 2011. Her body has not been found. She was 39 at the time of her disappearance.  Jacque and Clay had 5-year-old triplets at the time of her disappearance.

Clay and Jacque were going through the process of divorce.  According to court documents, Clay Waller signed documents to start the divorce process, but would not leave them with his lawyer.  He encouraged her to do the same, according to court documents.

Jacque had talked to her sister over the phone around 3:50 p.m. on June 1 and told her she was going to pick up her son from Clay's home and return "straight home."  She then talked to her boyfriend on the phone around 3:56 p.m. and told him she was picking up her son and would return home.

According to court documents, Clay's girlfriend told police she and Clay were supposed to have dinner together with his son and one of her children, but he met her at a local business parking lot and indicated to her he would not be having dinner with them.  He later asked her to keep his son overnight at her home, which she had never done before with Clay not there also.

The homeowner and a neighbor told police they saw Jacque's Honda Pilot at Clay's home and later saw Clay leave in his truck pulling a boat.

On Monday, June 6, investigators found blood splatter on the walls of a darkened hallway.  It did appear an attempt had been made to clean the walls, according to court documents.  The DNA profile of the blood from the hallway was the same DNA profile as Jacque.

On June 8, investigators searched a crawl space and found broken spider webs and it appeared the dust on the floor of the crawl space had been disturbed.

Investigators found a large amount of green carpet cut into several pieces in the crawl space.  Areas of the carpet had apparent blood stains and blood pooling was evidence on the carpet.  The blood matched the DNA of Jacque's.

Clay told investigators Jacque's nose had started bleeding while in the house and she tripped on the green carpet as she ran to clean it up.

Clay told investigators he had removed the carpet from the hallway because he did not want the owner of the home to find it and think something bad happened, according to court documents.

Clay then told police after Jacque was cleaned up, they began to argue about financial issues.  He said he became angry and threw her keys into a tree.  She told him she would walk to a friend's house and he watched her walk away.  He said she had her purse with her when she left.  He then told investigators he got a broom handle to get the keys from the tree and put them on the windshield of her vehicle.

According to court documents, Clay then said he left the house, but did not take his cell phone with him.  He said over the next few hours, he drove around the Cape Girardeau area and at time would leave his truck to use the bathroom in wooded areas. He also told police he would park roadside to read or work on crossword puzzles or work on the boat that was attached to his truck.

Jacque's laptop was recovered and police found a diary in which she detailed alleged threats from Clay threatening to kill her if she left him, according to court documents.

A Missouri Department of Transportation worker found a camera bag in a ravine on Nov. 3, 2011 in a ravine on the southbound side of Interstate 55.  That is across from where Jacque's Honda Pilot was found abandoned on June 2.

The last phone calls to come from Jacque's cell phones were at 6:02 p.m. to a co-worker and 6:03 p.m. on June 1 to Clay's cell phone. Both were missed calls.

The area had recently been mowed.  Jacque's purse, parts of cell phones, her driver's license, credit cards and other items thought to be from Jacque's purse were found.

Court documents say Clay was "largely uncooperative, and at times, intentionally obstructive to the investigation by concealing/destroying suspect evidence, planting false evidence and deliberately misleading officer in their effort to locate his wife."

Waller is currently in a Louisiana prison.  He was sentenced to five years behind bars in federal court after pleading guilty to threatening his sister in law on the website Topix last year.

Jacque Waller's parents say there is a bit of relief in knowing that charges have been brought against Clay Waller and they are looking for forward to getting justice for Jacque.

"The whole thing is going to come out, we want it all to come out the good the bad and the ugly," said Stan Rawson, Jacque's father. "Let the people judge then."

Jacque Waller's mom, Ruby Rawson, said she has total faith that justice will prevail.

"We've trusted in God, and we pray," said Ruby Rawson. "We have so many people praying for us and we know we'll get an answer."

Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle says they will not be seeking the death penalty in this case. Missouri statute states prosecutors can only seek the death penalty if one of 17 aggravating factors are proven such as the defendant torturing the victim or a prior murder conviction.

Swingle enters new territory on this case, as this is the first time his office has charged a person with murder without a body being found. However, it is not the first case in Missouri.

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