After surviving breast cancer, Indiana resident Elizabeth ‘Nikki’ Wilhoite has apparently been killed by her husband Andrew Wilhoite, who had just won the Republican primary in Indiana.
The candidate struck his wife with a gallon-size cement flowerpot after she found out he was having an affair during her chemotherapy treatment, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Nikki, who reportedly charged at her husband during a confrontation about his alleged affair after she had filed for divorce, fell to the ground after being struck.
Andrew, 39, told investigators he ‘didn’t know what to do,’ so he put Nikki’s body in his truck and dumped it in a creek near their farm in Lebanon.
Wilhoite was up for election on the Clinton Township Board and won in his primary on Tuesday.
He won 60 votes and can could still be on the ballot for the election in November, even though he will likely still be behind bars, the Tribune-Herald reported.
Brad King, co-director of the bipartisan Indiana Election Division told the newspaper there is ‘no reason’ he can’t be a candidate, because ‘under our system you are innocent until you are proven guilty.
He has until June 15 to withdraw his name and, if he is convicted, he will not be able to hold the position.
The Boone County Coroner ruled Nikki’s death a homicide following her autopsy and Andrew was charged with murder on Monday, court records reveal.
Police began investigating Nikki’s death after her co-workers at Indiana Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery reported that the mother-of-two and stepmom-of-one did not show up for work.
During the initial call to authorities, one co-worker claimed Nikki ‘was having issues with her husband’ and had recently ‘filed for divorce,’ The Daily Beast reported.
‘It was not like Elizabeth not to show up for work,’ the colleague told police.
When officers arrived at the Wilhoite family home, they were greeted by the three children who indicated Nikki was not home and they had been unable to reach her.
‘Elizabeth might be with her sister,’ Nikki’s stepdaughter told police, adding: ‘Elizabeth leaves when she gets upset.’
As police prepared to leave the farm, Andrew ‘pulled into the driveway in a blue tractor’ and informed police his wife was missing.
According to the affidavit, ‘Andrew stated that they had a pretty good fight last night, and she was drunk.’
He also allegedly pointed to scratch marks on his neck, suggesting they were evidence of the encounter between the couple.
The accused murderer then proceeded to tell police his wife spent Thursday night sleeping on the couch and that he did not see her the next morning when he left to ‘haul corn.’
‘Andrew stated that he was laying in the bed and Elizabeth was flipping out,’ the affidavit alleged.
‘Andrew advised that it is not the first time that an incident like this has occurred. Andrew Wilhoite stated that he’s done things to Elizabeth that he shouldn’t have before.’
The father-of-three also alleged that Nikki had withdrawn $3,000 from their joint bank account and ‘had a lawyer and was filing for divorce.’
Andrew then advised police he feared ‘maybe something drug-related… occurred’ with his wife.
However, police claim Andrew’s apparent lies began to unravel after officers spoke to Elizabeth’s father, Thomas Richards, who confirmed she withdrew money on March 18 because ‘she was going to have to divorce Andrew.’
The victim’s father also told police he believed Andrew ‘did something to Elizabeth.’
When police searched the Wihoite’s property, they discovered blood on bed sheets and a pillow in the master bedroom, as well as ‘small droplets on and around the door and inside the master bathroom on the sink.’
Indiana State Police were called to assist with the investigation and interviewed Andrew, during which he reportedly confessed to the affair, claiming Nikki ‘had taken the news hard.’
He told investigators that the couple had agreed to work through his infidelity, alleging they planned to start going to counseling in May, and that he was blindsided by Nikki’s request for a divorce.
‘Andrew stated that he refused to sign the documents without his own attorney reviewing it,’ the affidavit added.
Later during that interrogation, Andrew also admitted to killing Nikki after she had begun yelling at him about the affair, started ‘physically striking’ him and ordered him to leave the family home.
He confessed to throwing Nikki out of the front door of the house and striking her in the face with the flowerpot. He then threw her body over the wall of a bridge and into the nearby creek, police said.
When asked if Nikki was still breathing when he dumped her in the water, Andrew said, ‘he didn’t know because he didn’t check’ but did not recall ‘her groaning or moving at all.’
Police claim Andrew then proceeded to pick up the shards of broken flowerpot, place them in a plastic bag and throw them out of his truck window while on his way to drop off a corn shipment in Linden, Indiana.
Police found Nikki’s body in March ‘partially submerged in approximately three feet of water,’ according to Indiana State Police.
Those close to Nikki have hailed her as ‘such a strong woman’ who was going through more than they were aware of.
Mary Smith, her longtime friend, claimed Nikki ‘had just finished up chemo last week’ after having been ‘fighting to stay alive’.
‘She’s fighting to stay alive, to see her kids grow up. To have it end like this, it’s just a tragedy that no one should have to go through. It just shouldn’t be that way,’ Smith told WRTV. ‘Why? What happened to just make [Andrew] lose control?’
‘What pushed him to lash out in such a way?’ she asked. ‘It’s so upsetting to wonder if she had any idea she was in danger.’
Smith said Nikki will be remembered for her devotion to her family and her positive personality.
‘She was just fun. You could always count on her to have a funny story, or just to make you laugh,’ Smith shared. ‘She could be friends with anybody, and she was just fun, she was fun to be around. Just a really devoted mom.’
In addition to her alleged commitment to her children, Nikki was also very open about her struggles online.
Her last Facebook post, published on March 20, featured a quote by author Emma Grace reading: ‘You deserve a life that doesn’t hurt.’
The couple also seemingly used social media to document Nikki’s health progress with Andrew on March 18 posting a photo of her captioned: ‘This lady just finished her last round of chemo today… very proud of you.’
Now, Nikki’s Facebook page is flooding with tributes from friends and strangers alike.
‘She was beautiful. She definitely deserved better than what he did to her,’ wrote Jamie Fredericks.
‘My heart is broken. May you rest in peace and may Justice be served,’ echoed Becky Tucker Cash.
‘You did NOT deserve this at all Nikki. RIP sweet beautiful momma,’ said Laci Harper.
Laura Henry added: ‘YOU deserved so much more than this! Now God will ensure no more hurt for you beautiful woman for eternity.’
Mental Health America of Boone County also took to Facebook to mourn Nikki’s loss, writing: ‘We are saddened over the tragic nature of her passing.’
‘We know this can bring up many difficult emotions now, and in the days and weeks to come.’