LEBANON, Ind. — Community members gathered Sunday night to honor the life of Lebanon mother Nikki Wilhoite, who was killed last month.
The Boone County prosecutor filed murder charges on March 28 against her husband, 40-year-old Andrew Wilhoite, in the case. The Boone County Coroner's Office determined the manner of death to be a homicide.
Members with Mental Health America of Boone County said they hope the service, which was held at Old Mason's Lodge in Lebanon, also raises awareness about domestic violence.
Nikki's friends said the event was put together to show her children the support they have in the community.
"It's unbelievable because Nikki would have never thought she had so much love in the community," said Rebecca Holloman, a friend of Nikki's. "She would just be astonished about everybody out here tonight."
Nikki's body was recovered from a creek northwest of Lebanon early Saturday, March 26, when 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 on March 29 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 on March 28 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 extramarital affair. He said she slept on the couch the night of Thursday, March 24, 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.
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, March 26, and arrested Andrew for murder.