A couple who helped a farmer hide a tractor from his creditors were found shot to death at their rural home just two days after they had agreed to talk to FBI agents investigating his bankruptcy, federal prosecutors say.
No one has been charged in the April 2007 deaths of George and Linda Weedon, whose bodies were found by firefighters responding to a blaze at their home near Keyesport, a lakeside resort village about 60 miles east of St. Louis.
George Weedon had told an FBI agent he would cooperate with their investigation of farmer Joseph Diekemper, but feared Diekemper would burn down his house if he found out, according to documents filed in the case Monday.
Diekemper and his wife were charged in June with bankruptcy fraud. Prosecutors allege they hid valuable farm equipment at various places, including a tractor found behind a fake wall of a barn on the Weedons' property.
Gilbert Sison, one of Diekemper's attorneys, told reporters Monday his client "has nothing to do with" the Weedons' deaths, ruled homicides.
Diekemper, 60, and his 64-year-old wife Margaret are accused of lying about millions of dollars in real estate and farm equipment after filing for bankruptcy in 2004. The indictment also alleges Joseph Diekemper did not admit he had lost $115,000 gambling in casinos and that he paid $6,000 to get an unnamed person to lie to grand jurors and during sworn depositions.
Still no arrests in slayings
According to the indictment, the Diekempers hid a tractor in a barn on Weedon's property in April 2007 behind a false wall Joseph Diekemper helped erect.
Later that month, on April 21, Weedon was told federal investigators wanted to talk to him about the tractor, according to an FBI memo prosecutors filed Monday. He expressed concern about the possibility of having to testify against the Diekempers.
"Weedon stated he was afraid Diekemper would burn his house down if Diekemper found out he was cooperating with the FBI," the memo reads.
Weedon agreed to call the FBI agent the following week to set up an appointment for a formal interview.
Two days later, authorities responding to a house fire on the Weedons' property found the body of 37-year-old George Weedon in a car near the home. The body of Linda Weedon, a 41-year-old hospital worker, was found inside the rubble. Both had been shot to death.
Sgt. Dave Wasmuth, an Illinois State Police investigator, on Tuesday declined to discuss possible suspects and said there was not enough evidence to charge anyone with the homicides.
"It's absolutely frustrating," he said. "It's not unusual for some murder cases, if they're not solved in the first week, to drag out like this. But this one in particular — it's not a typical neighborhood, it's so very remote. The fire burned a substantial amount of time before anyone saw it," and destroyed some evidence.
Diekemper has been jailed since July, when a federal judge revoked his bond after finding Diekemper still possessed two rifles, violating terms of his release.
Margaret Diekemper is free on $25,000 bond. She did not respond to a message left Tuesday at her home.