Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 17, 2013

UPDATE: Girlfriend charged with murder of missing Effingham man

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Joseph Delaney disappeared 2 1/2 years ago. But thanks to a tip received earlier this month, authorities may be closer to finding out what happened to him.

Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler said Tuesday that Delaney's girlfriend, 57-year-old Christine Burr of rural Dieterich, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death. Illinois law allows prosecutors to file multiple murder counts for one death, using different theories of law.

Burr's daughter, Kristy L. Mathis, 40, and Mathis' boyfriend Zebadiah R. Houser, 25, were both charged with concealment of a homicidal death.

Kibler said all three suspects will appear in court at 10 a.m. Wednesday. A judge will then determine whether the trio should remain jailed, or set bond for their release.

Kibler said someone came forward with information that led first to the identification of Delaney's skeletal remains and secondly to the arrest of Burr, Mathis and Houser.

"We received a tip about two weeks ago and have been working the case ever since," Kibler said. "(Illinois) State Police investigators, in particular, have been working around the clock..."

A walker found the remains now believed to be Delaney's in March 2012 near the Embarras River about a mile northeast of Newton.  While Jasper County Coroner Jason Meyer said later that spring the bones were of a man aged between 35 to 50 and standing between 5-foot-3 and 5-foot 8 inches tall, Kibler said it wasn't until this month that authorities positively identified the remains.

Kibler said police believed Delaney was killed at Colonnade Apartments on East Hendelmeyer Avenue in Effingham and then moved to the site where the remains were found off 1025th Avenue, about a half-mile east of Illinois 130.

Kibler credited several agencies for their assistance in the case, including the Jasper County State's Attorney's office, Jasper County Sheriff's Department, coroners in both Effingham and Jasper counties and Investigator Ron Kilman of the Effingham County State's Attorney's office.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com