Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 17, 2013

Three arrested in disappearance, death of Effingham resident


Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler announced the arrest of three Effingham County residents in the 2011 disappearance and death of Joseph C. Delaney, then age 54, of Effingham. Delaney disappeared sometime after July 1, 2011.

Illinois State Police investigators and an Effingham Police Department detective arrested Christine Burr, 57, of rural Dieterich on three counts of first degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death; Kristy L. Mathis, 40, of Effingham on one count of concealment of a homicidal death; and Zebadiah R. Houser, 25, of Effingham on one count of concealment of a homicidal death.

Skeletal remains were recovered near the Embarrass River north of Newton on March 10, 2012. Newly collected evidence suggests the remains are those of Delaney.

Authorities believe Delaney was murdered at a building inside the Colonnade Apartment Complex on E. Hendelmeyer Avenue in Effingham and that his remains were later disposed of in Jasper County.

Burr, Mathis and Houser are being held in custody at Effingham County jail. Each defendent will make an initial appearance in Effingham County Circuit Court at 10 a.m. Dec. 18.

"State police investigators, with assistance from the Effingham Police Department, performed remarkable 'cold case' work in this matter," said Kibler. "State police investigators, in particular, worked virtually around-the-clock since their receipt of valuable information earlier this month."

Kibler credited several additional authorities for their assistance and work in the matter, including Jasper County State's Attorney's office, Jasper County Sheriff's Department, Jasper County Coroner's office, Effingham County Coroner's office and Effingham County State's Attorney's investigator. Investigation work continues, Kibler said.