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Lebanon farmer faces 45-60 years in prison if convicted of murdering his wife during fight

Court documents say Andrew Wilhoite hit his wife, Nikki, on the head with a flower pot and dumped her body in a creek March 24.

LEBANON, Indiana — The Boone County prosecutor filed murder charges Monday against 40-year-old Andrew Wilhoite in the killing of his wife, Nikki Wilhoite, on March 24, 2022.

Nikki's body was recovered from a creek northwest of Lebanon early Saturday, March 26, after Andrew told detectives that he dumped her there after striking her with a flower pot during a fight outside their farmhouse.

Andrew had his initial hearing in the case Tuesday morning at the Boone County Circuit Court. He faces 45-60 years in prison if convicted of the crimes.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Friday, May 27 at 8:30 a.m., and the jury trial will start Monday, Aug. 29 at 8:30 a.m.

The judge entered a not guilty plea on Andrew's behalf, who has hired his own attorney.

Court documents say Andrew first lied to detectives, who were called to investigate when Nikki went missing Friday morning, March 25, after she failed to report for work at a Zionsville oral surgery office.

A probable cause affidavit filed with the felony murder charge Monday says detectives spoke to Andrew and his children on the morning after the murder and found traces of blood in the couple's bedroom. 

At the time, Andrew told investigators that his wife filed for divorce, and the couple had been fighting about Andrew's extra-marital affair. He said she slept on the couch Thursday night, and he did not see her when he left for work Friday morning.

He said the blood in the bedroom came from Nikki's scratches and his bloody nose.

Detectives found Nikki's phone, purse and vehicle at the farm on Friday morning.

RELATED: Coroner determines Boone County woman's death was homicide, husband arrested

After speaking to relatives and searching the grounds around the farm, detectives continued to interview Andrew about details of what he had originally told them. After he asked to speak to an attorney, Andrew changed his account of the events of Thursday night.

He said around 10 p.m. Thursday, the couple was fighting outside the house when Nikki charged at him, and he hit her on the head with a flower pot, knocking her out. Andrew said he drove her to Ross Ditch in a pickup truck and dumped her over the bridge on Boone County 400 East, just south of County Road 350 North.

Detectives found her body there around 3 a.m. Saturday and arrested Andrew for murder.

Chris Miller used to work with Nikki at a dental practice. She described her former coworker and friend of 20 years as intelligent, caring, bubbly and a bright light.

"I don't want this (tragedy) to define her because she's so much more. Her smile just lit up a room. It wasn't just from her mouth, her smile was from the inside out. She really cared about people. She cared about our patients. She cared about the coworker. She would do anything to make things better," Miller said. "I want people to know how wonderful she was and how many people's lives she touched and she made a difference. I adore her. I adore her."

It's why she was so devastated to learn how the wife and mother died.

"I go through the day and I just keep thinking please let this be a nightmare," Miller said. "I hate that it's real. "He not only took away his wife, he took away his children's mother."

Miller said Nikki had just finished her last chemo treatment for breast cancer. Friends say the couple's relationship had been full of turmoil for years, that Nikki had been in danger and was finally trying to get out.

"I wished she'd broken away you know? If you're in a bad situation, there's help and there's help where you can go and be anonymous," Miller said. "Let her life be a light for other people in a dark place. We are going to stand up and say the things that we wished she'd said."

The prosecutor cited a coroner's report that Nikki died from the blow to the head.

RELATED: Boone County community shocked by Lebanon mother's murder

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