Missing Missouri woman’s husband sentenced for threat

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — The estranged husband of a missing southeast Missouri woman was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for threatening the woman’s sister.

Clay Waller has not been charged in his wife’s disappearance but pleaded guilty in federal court in October to threatening Jacque Waller’s sister through an Internet posting.

He had been seeking a sentence of less than one year for the threat, and federal sentencing guidelines called for six to 12 months behind bars. A federal judge instead issued the maximum sentence, KFVS-TV reported.

“I’m sorry for causing problems. I just miss my kids ... that’s it,” Waller, 41, said in court.

Jacque Waller, 39, was last seen on June 1 leaving Clay Waller’s house in Jackson. Her body has not been found and no charges have been filed in her disappearance, but authorities have named Clay Waller as a suspect.

The couple’s children, 5-year-old triplets, have been living with Jacque Waller’s sister, Cheryl Brennecke, of Bonne Terre, since the disappearance.

Authorities determined that during an Internet forum on the case on July 26, Waller posted a comment directed at Brennecke that read, in part, “You are dead ... I will get you 5, 10, 25 years from now. You have it coming.”

The threat was posted on the Topix website, and federal investigators learned it came from a computer at a Cape Girardeau pawn shop. Waller had asked the store manager to use the computer that night, a federal prosecutor said. After Waller left, the manager reviewed the computer’s Internet history and noticed Waller accessed the Topix site.

Waller admitted in court he sent the threat, referring to the posting as an email.

“I sent the email,” he told U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh in pleading guilty. “I did it.”

The Wallers had been having marital trouble and were on the verge of a divorce, her father, Stan Rawson, of Bonne Terre, said in an interview last year. They used the same attorney and met with him on June 1 — the same day Jacque Waller disappeared.

Efforts by Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle to build a case against Clay Waller in Jacque Waller’s disappearance were set back in November when a judge denied Swingle’s request to preserve a deposition from Waller’s father, James Clay Waller Sr. The younger Waller allegedly confessed to his father that he killed Jacque Waller and buried her body.

The senior Waller died in December.

Volunteers have joined police in continuing to pursue leads in the case. In November, five months after Jacque Waller disappeared, her purse and other belongings were found along southbound Interstate 55 near Fruitland, near where her car was found June 2.

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