Back in December, we told you about an investigatory break in the 2003 murder of Heather DeWild, who vanished two days before her divorce to Daniel DeWild was to be finalized. Daniel, his twin brother David and David's wife Roseanne were all charged with murder in the case . Now, David has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, months before Daniel is scheduled for trial.
The timing of his development suggests the possibility that David has decided to testify against his twin. Because of the still-pending trials involving Daniel and Roseanne (who's got a pretrial conference slated for August 20), Pam Russell, spokeswoman for Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, can't comment about that. However, she did speak to us about the case late last year.
At that time, Russell admitted that "the case went a little bit cold" following an initial flurry of activity around the time of the crime. "Then, in 2005, when Scott became DA, Heather's parents contacted him, and Scott just felt compelled to move forward with this investigation, and to make a commitment to them to resolve this case and bring justice to Heather."
As we've reported, DeWild was last seen when she met Daniel at a McDonald's to "discuss a check he had received in both of their names and to pick up health insurance forms for their two young children," his father told the Associated Press shortly after her July 24, 2003 disappearance. Within days, the Jeffco DA's office was looking at asking a grand jury to examine the matter, even though no body had been found at that point.
Then, in September, Heather's severely decomposed corpse was uncovered from a shallow grave near westbound Highway 6, clad in the same outfit in which she'd last been seen. The body was in trash bags held together by duct tape with a rope bound loosely to her neck and wrist.
This development only increased authorities' interest in Daniel, who, during the course of the investigation, was hit with a forgery charge for allegedly writing Heather's name on a couple of 1999-vintage checks valued at more than $16,000.
This accusation was dropped in November 2004, with Brian Smith, husband of Daniel's sister, telling the Denver Post. "The charges were unwarranted to begin with. They were trying to harass him." Smith added that Daniel would be "a lot happier when he gets his kids back" -- something he hoped would happen at an upcoming hearing.
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It didn't. Russell told us that Heather's parents, Dave and Carole Springer, retained custody, although Daniel had what she describes as "generous visitation terms."
Which only makes the information in the DeWild indictment, on view below, that much creepier.
Page down for information about the indictment, mug shots and more. According to the document, Heather allegedly went to the Edgewater home Daniel shared with David and Roseanne, then his girlfriend; the couple subsequently married. Heather brought their two kids with her -- a son, then five, and a daughter, three. The boy later told police that Daniel had been "sneaking up on her back," and he didn't "know what they were fighting for."
At some point after this spat, the indictment alleges that Daniel, David and Roseanne subdued Heather and took her out of the home, later disposing of her body and her car and instituting a code of silence between them. Authorities believe three people were required to accomplish these dire deeds: one to drive Heather's car to a greenbelt, another to follow that driver and pick him up, and the third to watch the kids. As evidence, the document cites cell-phone records that appear to have been key to the case. In our previous interview, Russell noted that "there are things we can tell from cell phones today that we couldn't tell in 2003 or 2004."
The indictment also argues that Heather's body was "staged," meaning that the rope and duct tape were used in a way to suggest the sort of crime that might have been committed by an anonymous killer, not a family member.
Russell declined to talk about possible DNA evidence that might have been detected by improved equipment. Instead, she focused on the continuing efforts of investigators from assorted agencies, including the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the police departments in Edgewater and Arvada.
"In the last year, we got close enough where we thought we could present the case to a grand jury," she said. "We began presenting information in August, and on the 9th, they returned the indictment."
Months later, David pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder -- a class three felony that carries a mandatory minimum ten years in stir. He'll be sentenced on October 19.
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Will Roseanne, David's husband, work out a plea deal of her own at that August 20 pretrial hearing? It'll be interesting to see. In the meantime, here are booking photos of the DeWild twins plus Roseanne, as well as the indictment.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Colorado's cold case backlog: 1,518 murders still unsolved."