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‘Body pieces of a loved one washing ashore’: Woman and man sentenced for murdering and dismembering their roommate and shared lover

Christina Harnish and William Rice appear in wanted images

Christina Harnish, left, and William Rice, right, were sentenced to 40 years for the murder of Megan Tilman, right inset, in May 2023; the trio were romantically involved and can be seen during happier times, left inset. (Annapolis Police Department)

A woman and a man in Maryland were sentenced to 40 years in prison this week for killing, dismembering, and then dumping the body parts of their former roommate and lover nearly six years ago.

Christina Stallings Harnish, 45, and William Rice, 47, were given the maximum sentence by a judge on Friday for the murder of Megan Tilman, 42, a mother of two, on an unknown date in October 2017.

“If you ever want to know horror, imagine body pieces of a loved one washing ashore,” Shannon Perry, Tilman’s aunt, told Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Cathleen Vitale during victim impact statements, in comments reported by The Baltimore Sun.

Tilman, from Annapolis, was reported missing by one of her cousins on Nov. 1, 2017.

“The cousin reported that Megan had, in the months preceding, become estranged from her family,” the Annapolis Police Department said in a press release. “When family members realized that no one had heard from Megan for several weeks, she was reported missing.”

Initially, police said “the last verified contact Megan had with anyone” was on Oct. 7, 2017; during a recent hearing, however, Tilman’s death was reportedly “agreed upon” as Oct. 3, 2017, according to the Sun. A defense attorney for Harnish and Rice cleared up the misunderstanding by saying it is unlikely his clients knew the exact date due to being in a “drug-induced haze.”

Officials couldn’t fix the date of the dead woman’s death because of how she was found: in pieces and over time.

In late October 2017, human remains began washing ashore in the Chesapeake Bay in Shady Side, Maryland.

The human remains were not confirmed to belong to Tilman until 18 months later.

Defense attorneys for the couple said there was a fatal altercation, the woman’s death – one fueled by cocaine and booze. Rice’s attorney Denis O’Connell said his client was in a fight with Tilman that broke the man’s glasses; then Harnish started punching Tilman; then Rice choked her from behind as Harnish covered her mouth and nose until she stopped breathing.

Prosecutors termed Tilman’s death “the worst second-degree murder imaginable,” the Sun reported.

Harnish and Rice were not arrested until nearly four years later – they were found hiding in a homeless encampment in Pima, Arizona and then extradited to Maryland in February 2022.

The three lived together in a residence on Rockwell Court in Annapolis, along with the dead woman’s ailing mother – who Tilman supported. Eventually, Tilman’s mother moved out. According to law enforcement, the couple entered into a relationship with Tilman to swindle her out of her mother’s money. When Tilman stopped being of financial use, she was disposed of.

“Megan Tilman reportedly can be easily manipulated and has been described as having borderline intellectual functioning,” police noted when she was reported missing.

Defense attorney Anne Stewart-Hill told jurors the defendants knew each other nearly their entire lives and that Harnish got into a relationship with Rice and Tilman after she had been abused.

During a hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Glen Neubauer said Harnish and Rice’s bus tickets to Arizona were paid for using money they had stolen from Tilman, the Associated Press reported.

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