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Trial of Family Feud contestant-turned-estranged husband began with devastating truth about Becky Bliefnick’s murder

Tim Bliefnick appears in court; Becky Bliefnick pictured

Tim Bliefnick pictured at his murder trial on Wednesday, May 24 (pool video); Becky Bliefnick (obituary image used with permission of family)

“The last minutes of Becky Bliefnick’s life were not spent surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. The last minutes of Becky Bliefnick’s life were not spent in the warm embrace of her three children, Deacon, Greyson, and Arlin. The last minutes of Becky Bliefnick’s life were not spent in love, and compassion, and tenderness. No, the last minutes of Becky’s life were spent in fear, and pain, and terror as she lay on the cold, gray tiles of her bathroom floor slowly bleeding to death.”

Those were the haunting words of Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones on Tuesday, at the very start of Tim Bliefnick’s murder trial in the shooting death of Rebecca “Becky” Bernadette Postle Bliefnick, a 41-year-old nurse and mother to three sons who was killed on Feb. 23 in her own home in a “heinous and premeditated act” allegedly committed by her estranged husband amid a “contentious” divorce.

The prosecution revealed that Becky Bliefnick was shot up close — 14 times — after the alleged perpetrator, 40-year-old Tim Bliefnick, broke into the residence with a crowbar through a window, broke down her bedroom door and chased her through her Quincy home, ultimately leading to the bathroom where she died alone. Evidence showed that Becky Bliefnick tried to dial 911 in her bedroom when the door was forced open and knocked the device out of her hand, the prosecution said.

Once in the bathroom, she turned around and she heard a shot and she fell to the ground, the prosecution said.

Years before Becky Bliefnick’s death, Tim Bliefnick and his family members appeared on the popular game show Family Feud.

During the show, host Steve Harvey asked Tim Bliefnick about the biggest mistake a person makes at their wedding. “Honey, I love you, but: Said I do,” he replied.

“Not my mistake,” Bliefnick clarified. “I love my wife.”

“I’m gonna get in trouble for that aren’t I?” he then asked jokingly.

During opening statements, prosecutors seemed to turn that quip on its head without explicitly mentioning the Family Feud appearance.

“She fell on her back and she looked up into the eyes of her murderer. She looked up into eyes that she had looked into before — into eyes that had promised her once till death do us part,” Jones said. “She looked into the eyes of her murderer, her husband, the defendant. And the defendant looked down at Becky, and he pointed a gun at her and he pulled the trigger.”

“Not once, not twice, not three times, but 14 times — riddling her body with bullets,” Jones added. “And then, he ran away. He fled, leaving Becky lying on the floor to die alone.”

The devastating truth of Becky Bliefnick’s death is out in the open, and it’s now up to an Adams County, Illinois, jury to decide whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Tim Bliefnick is the one responsible for the crime.

Defense attorney Casey Schnack told jurors that prosecutors had told “a good story,” but emphasized that the opening statement was not evidence.

“You get to determine what the evidence proves and what the evidence doesn’t prove,” Schnack reminded jurors.

The defense lawyer said details about Tim and Becky Bliefnick’s “messy” or “ugly” divorce do not equal proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The burden of the proof is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not based on speculation, it’s not based on conjecture,” the lawyer said. “It’s not based on getting divorced. It’s not based on having bad feelings toward your spouse. It’s not based on inconclusive lab results.”

The defense lawyer claimed the case is “dripping with reasonable doubt,” and said that neighborhood video evidence of a person riding a bike is not enough to convict anyone, let alone her client.

“The state’s theory in this matter is that Tim left his 5-year-old, his 10-year-old and 12-year-old home alone in the middle of the night,” Shnack said. “He rode a bike from 16th and Hampshire to 24th and Kentucky road, shimmied up the side of his house and broke in using his crowbar. He walked in through a window, left a footprint on the floor, kicked down Becky’s door and shot her 14 times and then rode that bike back home.”

Schnack said that the bike was found somewhere around 18th Street abandoned.

“The state believes that was the bike that was used in this crime,” Schnack said. “They believed in it so much that they took the handlebars off of that bike and they sent it to the Illinois State Crime lab, and the reason that they did that was that so they could find DNA, fingerprints — something to link that bike to Tim,” Schnack said. “You will hear from the lab experts that did the testing on that bike and you will not hear any evidence that there is any trace of [Tim’s] DNA or his fingerprints on that bike.”

Schnack also said that surveillance videos of a bike-riding individual that investigators found only showed “somebody going somewhere.”

“But that’s all the video shows. You don’t know if this is a man or a woman. You don’t know if they’re young or old. We don’t know what race they are. We don’t know how tall they are. We don’t know how much they weigh. We don’t know what colors they were wearing. We don’t know where they were coming from. We don’t know where they were going. Heck, we don’t even know if this is the same person on each of these videos that you are going to see,” Schnack said

“The person on these videos is not identifiable by any characteristic whatsoever,” the lawyer said. “And what I assert to you is that in order for you to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Tim killed his wife, as the state has said, then you are going to have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that that is Tim on that bike.”

The defense previously floated the idea that a “prowler in the area” was actually responsible for the murder.

During witness testimony that followed opening statements, Sarah Reilly told jurors about receiving a text from her sister Becky Bliefnick in 2021, which said: “If something ever happens to me, make sure the No. 1 person of interest is Tim.”

In a statement to Law&Crime as the trial started, Becky Bliefnick’s family hoped for swift justice and renewed their call for donations to help her three sons.

“Three months ago, February 23, Becky was murdered. As the trial begins, a new chapter of this arduous journey begins and we are hopeful it will successfully and swiftly provide justice for her death. We are confident in the Quincy Police Department and the prosecution’s legal team who have not wavered in their pursuit of the truth. Our family will be forever grateful for their dedication,” the family said. “The last three months have been the hardest hours, days and weeks of our lives, as we try to wrap our heads and hearts around living without our beloved Becky. With conviction and hope, we pray the trial can open the door to healing. We recognize the days ahead will rip our wounds wide open again.”

“We ask for your prayers for strength and peace as we carry forward on this excruciating journey that has forever changed our world. For those who are willing and able to support Becky’s boys’ future, we appreciate any contribution possible to our GoFundMe,” the family added.

The GoFundMe has raised nearly $100,000 as of Wednesday afternoon, May 24.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.