A 59-year-old Missouri man may spend the rest of his life behind bars for brutally beating his wife to death with a hammer and stashing her corpse in a freezer for several years.
A state judge on Monday handed down a 25-year prison sentence to Larry A. Dinwiddie for the 2015 murder of 56-year-old Cynthia Dinwiddie, whose body was not discovered by authorities until 2019, Springfield NBC affiliate KYTV reported.
Dinwiddie in November reached a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for the district attorney’s office reportedly dropping a charge of abandoning a corpse that was initially filed against him.
In November 2019, employees at a storage facility in Marshfield found Cynthia’s body in a locked freezer located inside an abandoned storage unit that was being cleaned out. Investigators with the Webster County Sheriff’s Office said that her body had likely been inside the freezer, which was still running when the body was recovered, for approximately four years, the Springfield News-Leader reported. Management for the storage facility reportedly said that the body was stored in the freezer that was locked from the outside along with several “random food items.”
Investigators soon tracked the abandoned storage unit back to Dinwiddie and found that no missing persons report had ever been filed for Cynthia.
Per the News-Leader, the sheriff’s office, working in conjunction with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, then plotted a sting operation to lure Dinwiddie back to the unit. Posing as management for the storage unit, the sheriff’s office reportedly contacted Dinwiddie and told him that the freezer in his unit had stopped working and he “needed to hurry up and get back.”
Dinwiddie reportedly claimed to be in Denver, but showed up at the facility later that day with several companions and was taken into custody without incident.
Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole reportedly told the News-Leader that Dinwiddie was “very cooperative” because “he knew the jig was up.”
Following his arrest, Dinwiddie reportedly claimed that his wife had been physically and emotionally abusive to him for many years. He allegedly admitted that during a 2015 argument inside of their home he “lost it,” and beat Cynthia to death with a hammer and also strangled her. He reportedly told investigators that he didn’t know what to do with her body so he stuffed it into a large freezer which he later transported to the storage facility.
Webster County Prosecutor Ben Berkstresser last year said that detectives found evidence corroborating Dinwiddie’s claim that he was abused, but they emphasized that there were “many other options besides the one that Mr. Dinwiddie had chosen” to address the abuse.
“The evidence and occurrence of severe abuse. It went the unusual way which was a female against a male in this case,” Berkstresser told KYTV, noting that the abuse played a significant factor in prosecutors giving Dinwiddie a plea deal. “What bothered me was that there were so many [of Dinwiddie’s] family and friends that knew about this circumstance.”
Dinwiddie had been facing up to life in prison.
[image via Webster County Sheriff’s Office]
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