Husband charged in wife's 2003 death

Saturday, December 6, 2008 | 6:31 p.m. CST

VERSAILLES — A Morgan County man has been charged with killing his wife, who has been missing since 2003.

Michael Shane Yarnell, 39, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michelle "Angie" Yarnell, who was 28 when she disappeared around Oct. 26, 2003.

Police, who had been looking for Michael Yarnell since 2005, arrested him Nov. 5 in Biloxi, Miss.

Morgan County Sheriff James Petty said Yarnell told police his wife died after the couple fought and he pushed her off a 10-foot-high deck at their Ivy Bend home. He then dumped her body on an island, Petty said Friday.

Sheriff's officers told Angie Yarnell's mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman, about the charges Thursday night, Petty said.

Asher-Chapman, who had pushed investigators to continue looking for her daughter for five years, told the Sedalia Democrat she didn't know how to react to the news.

"I don't know yet," she said. "I'm just kind of numb."

Yarnell told police he took his wife's body by boat to an uninhabited island off the Osage River near Ivy Bend, where he left her remains, Petty said. Yarnell led investigators to the island about four miles from the Yarnells' former home and a search was under way for the remains.

Morgan County Prosecutor Marvin Opie said Yarnell faces four different charges to allow an eventual jury to find him guilty on a lesser charge if sufficient evidence isn't available to convict him on the murder charge. If convicted of murder, Yarnell could face life in prison.

He also faces charges for forgery and tampering with evidence , which were filed in November when Asher-Chapman reported that she had received a post card that purported to be sent from her daughter on Nov. 7, 2003.

Michael Yarnell told police he sent Asher-Chapman the post card, Petty said, in the hope that it would stop the investigation and lead investigators to think Angie Yarnell was alive and headed to Texas.

Investigators found items that Angie Yarnell would have taken with her while searching the home of Michael Yarnell's former stepfather, Petty said.

That made it clear to investigators that Michael Yarnell's previous story about his wife's disappearance "didn't match up," Petty said. When Michael Yarnell was confronted with the new evidence, he confessed to killing his wife, the sheriff said.


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