Missouri woman convicted in 2003 slaying

Thursday, February 5, 2009 | 11:44 a.m. CST; updated 1:02 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 5, 2009

FORSYTH — A jury has convicted a southwest Missouri woman of first-degree murder in the 2003 death of 68-year-old Oldfield resident Freda Heyn.

The Taney County jury on Wednesday returned a guilty verdict in the case of 42-year-old Paula Hall of Sparta. Sentencing is set for April 10 in Christian County.

The trial was moved to Taney County after the defense asked for a change of venue.

Heyn was last seen Nov. 7, 2003, at the post office in Oldfield. In April 2004, her skull was found by tourists in Mark Twain National Forest.

A man accused of cleaning up the crime scene in Heyn's mobile home is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Hall's husband, Billy Hall, remains at large on an unrelated warrant. Prosecutors say murder charges against him may be refiled.

"I may refile it ... based on additional evidence that I found since then, but I cannot fully disclose that because it is an ongoing criminal investigation," said Ron Cleek, the prosecuting attorney.

Billy Hall surrendered to authorities in November 2006 and faced second-degree murder charges, federal firearms charges and two drug-related charges.

He was sentenced on the drug-related charges and served time at the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Cleek said the homicide charges were dismissed so he could collect additional evidence.

Billy Hall has since been paroled, but on Jan. 12, a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of manufacturing drugs.

Paula Hall has been in custody at the Christian County jail since her arrest in October 2006.

The charges against Paula Hall and Billy Hall were largely based on testimony David Epperson gave to investigators during an interview in 2006.

Epperson is accused of cleaning up the crime scene after being notified of Heyn's death. Investigators say he left DNA evidence at the home when he cut his hand.

A plea agreement to have Epperson testify in the homicide case will likely give him probation for tampering with evidence, Cleek said.


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