LACON, Ill. (WMBD) — The man accused of murdering and dismembering Tiffini Murphy in 2019 was in court Wednesday.
Gary Berchtold appeared before a Marshall County Judge in a bench trial. Prosecutors called five witnesses and played an hour-long interview between Berchtold and Marshall County Deputies about Murphy’s disappearance where Berchtold insisted he had no involvement.
Wednesday’s witnesses included Krystofer Williams, a man who describes himself as a “distant-relative” and says he lived with Berchtold and was present on the night of Murphy’s death.
Erin Bowers, an Illinois State Police crime scene investigator also detailed how bone fragments and bullet casings were found in August 2019 at a nearby farm where Berchtold allegedly dumped ashes after burning Murphy’s body.
In their opening statement, the prosecution pushed for Judge James Mack to convict Berchtold of the alleged crimes.
“It will be obvious after weighing the evidence, weighing the credibility of the witness’ testimony, and using common sense, that the defendant did shoot Tiffini Murphy with a firearm and killed her. And your Honor, after hearing all of this evidence, I would ask that you find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder, dismemberment of a human body, and concealing a homicidal death,” said Myra Yelle-Clark, Assistant State’s Attorney.
The defense focused most of their questions towards Williams, stating that he may have given his testimony on what happened the night Murphy died in an attempt to avoid jail. In 2019, Williams was charged with failing to properly register as a sex offender.
Wednesday, Williams admitted to previously lying to authorities about Murphy’s whereabouts because he was fearful of Berchtold, but he claims he did not help murder Murphy.
Family members of Murphy’s were also in the courtroom on Monday, including the victim’s father who testified about his daughter.
Berchtold’s trial is set to resume Thursday, June 17, just after 9:00 A.M. at the Marshall County Courthouse.
As previously reported, Marshall County authorities were led by a witness to a property on the Marshall-Peoria County Line where they found bones and hair. At the time they were thought to be Tiffini Murphy’s but were sent off for DNA verification.
Murphy went missing in Aug. 2018 and authorities learned Berchtold was the last person to be seen with her.
After being brought in for questioning, Berchtold told authorities the last time he saw her saw August 31, 2018, and said he and a friend dropped her off at a former Casey’s in Lacon.
Later in the investigation, deputies said a friend came forward and explained his account of what happened the night Murphy died.
The man said Murphy, who was intoxicated, got into a fight with Berchtold and came home with them after.
When the three got to the house, the witness said Berchtold told him to go inside the home and not come out no matter what he heard. The witness then reported hearing five to six gunshots.
The next morning, he realized Murphy was gone, and a fire was burning outside. He then admitted to helping Berchtold get rid of the burnt pile.
After hearing that story, deputies re-questioned Berchtold, and his story changed.
Berchtold then told deputies he was actually breaking up a fight between Murphy and the friend when a gun went off. When Berchtold realized she was dead, he decided to get rid of Murphy’s body by burning her.
Berchtold is facing charges of first-degree murder, dismemberment of a body and concealing a homicidal death.