CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - James Clay Waller was in Federal Court on Thursday, Oct. 5 for a change of plea hearing.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of interstate domestic battery. He agreed to 35 years to run concurrent with the state murder charge. His sentencing will be on Jan. 16 in Cape Girardeau.
Waller will be in his 70s when he gets out.
According to court documents, Waller admitted at the plea hearing that he had threatened his wife Jacque on numerous occasions that "if she divorced him she would be signing her death warrant."
Court documents state that on May 31, 2011, the day before he and Jacque were to meet with her divorce attorney, Waller dug a grave on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River near Devil's Island in which to bury his wife. He then spent the night with his girlfriend in Illinois.
The next day, June 1, 2011, he traveled in interstate commerce from Illinois to Missouri that day, he admitted that he did so with the intent to kill his wife.
Following the meeting with the divorce attorney, Jacque Waller went to Clay Waller's home in Jackson, Mo. According to court documents, Waller strangled and beat Jacque to death in the home. He then took her body across the Mississippi River by boat and buried her in the grave he had dug the day before.
In the plea agreement, Waller agreed to forfeit any proceeds received or to ever be received from an contract relating to a description of his crime in a movie, book, newspaper, magazine, radio or television production, including a manuscript he wrote entitled "'If You Take My Kids, I'll Kill You?'": The Public Confession of Missouri's Most Notorious Wife Killers."
Jacque Waller's parents, Stan and Ruby Rawson, released this statement on Thursday:
Clay Waller previously pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He is accused of traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to kill Jacque Waller, his wife.
During a hearing on Aug. 23, Waller withdrew all prior motions in the case, including those to suppress evidence and a motion to dismiss the case. He waived his right to file any other motions in connection to the case. Waller also gave up the right to an evidentiary hearing.
Court documents show that by withdrawing the pretrial motions, Waller is giving up his right to receive the following documents: "internal memoranda relating to interviews and preservation of agents rough notes; disclosure of early Jencks material; disclosure of communications between government agents and jailhouse informants incarcerated with Waller; and disclosure of favorable, exculpatory and impeaching information."
The indictment in 2016 also states that the defendant shall forfeit to the United States all proceeds received or to be received from a contract relating to a depiction of the crime in a movie, book, newspaper, magazine, radio or television production or live entertainment of any kind.
This includes all proceeds received or to be received by Waller or any transferee from any publication of, adaptation of, or other work derived from a manuscript authored by the defendant entitled, "If You Take My Kids, I'll Kill You! The Public Confession of Missouri's Most Notorious Wife Killers."
That manuscript was obtained by FBI agents in March of 2016.
According to court documents, in the book, Waller boasts repeatedly about how his prior law enforcement training enabled him to elude the authorities and how Jacque was responsible for her own death because she sought primary physical custody of his children.
He claimed he had to put on his "police cap of consciousness" to deceive authorities and get away with murder.
According to federal court records, the book contains admissions that Waller had made up his mind to kill Jacque when she announced she was getting the divorce and taking the kids.
In June 2017, Waller's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on grounds of double jeopardy and violation of due process.
In 2012, Waller was charged with murder in the second-degree.
He entered a guilty plea in that case and was sentenced to 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
As part of that plea agreement, Waller cooperated with federal and local authorities to help locate the remains of his estranged wife, Jacque Waller.
Waller's attorney argued the decision to enter the agreement was based on the understanding that the matter of his wife's death would be closed and there would be no further charges.
During sentencing on the state charge in 2013, state prosecutors made it clear that the agreement between Waller and the state in no way bound the federal government or the state of Illinois. Any charges from either would be separate matters.
Jacque Waller was murdered on June 1, 2011.
Clay and Jacque were married for 17 years. They were separated and in the process of a divorce at the time of her death.
Clay Waller admitted to strangling and beating Jacque on June 1, 2011 and then stuffing her body in a trash can.
He buried her in a grave he dug the day before near the Mississippi River in Illinois.