Widow of Man Once Believed Eaten by Gators in 2000 Is Charged With His Murder

The cold case took a surprising turn with the arrest of Denise Williams Tuesday.

A Florida cold case took a surprise turn this week when police announced the arrest of a woman in the death of her husband, who was once believed to have been eaten by alligators.

Denise Williams was about to celebrate her sixth wedding anniversary when husband Mike Williams vanished after supposedly going duck hunting in 2000.

However, late last year, dogged investigators discovered Mike Williams' body after more than 17 years. The real estate appraiser had been murdered and dumped near a boat landing in Tallahassee, they announced.

The discovery came just one day after Mike's best friend, Brian Winchester, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in December.

Winchester had been convicted of kidnapping Denise Williams at gunpoint in 2016. The two had been married since 2005, a few years after Williams was able to have her missing husband declared dead by a judge.

Williams reportedly received some $2 million in life insurance, over $1 million of which came from a policy that was sold to Mike Williams by Winchester.

Prior to the kidnapping, Denise Williams had filed for divorce from Winchester, which court records indicate led to his fears she'd tell authorities what happened to Mike Williams all those years ago.

While it's unclear whether Winchester wanted to beat his ex-wife to the punch, the 47-year-old entered a plea agreement with prosecutors that spared him the possibility of life behind bars. 

Winchester's attorney declined to divulge to the Tallahassee Democrat whether his client had provided the state with information on the Williams case.

"We don’t anticipate him being charged," attorney Tim Jansen said. "If he’s subpoenaed or granted immunity, he will cooperate and testify truthfully."

In the indictment obtained by WCTV, authorities allege Williams and Winchester conspired to kill her husband.

Police on Tuesday descended on Denise Williams' office at Florida State University, The Democrat reported.

Now 48, Williams was cuffed and led away before authorities charged her with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact.

Denise Williams' attorney, Ethan Way told reporters his client will plead not guilty.

"I am surprised the grand jury indicted her," Way reportedly said. "There's been a drum beat against her for years, but she has nothing to do with Mike Williams' death. We will be mounting a vigorous defense and we are going to fight this."

In her first court appearance Wednesday, Williams was denied bond after pleading not guilty and will remain jailed, pending trial.