JACKSON, — A year after Jacque Waller's disappearance, her family is still struggling to come to grips with the loss of the vibrant mother of young triplets.
Waller was 39 when she was last seen on June 1, 2011. Dozens of searches in southeast Missouri have failed to turn up a body, but Waller's estranged husband, Clay Waller, was charged with first-degree murder in April. Their children, now 6, live with Jacque's sister, Cheryl Brenneke.
Jacque Waller's father, Stan Rawson, told the Southeast Missourian that the loss is almost too much to bear.
"I don't know if it will ever be better," he said. "It has to be or I couldn't last, I don't think."
Clay Waller faces arraignment on Monday in Jackson, Mo., during which an attorney may be appointed and a preliminary hearing date set. He is already serving a five-year sentence in federal prison in Louisiana. He pleaded guilty in October to threatening his wife's sister, Cheryl Brenneke, in an online forum about the case.
A probable cause statement offered some insight into the period just before Jacque Waller's disappearance. She had been living in Ste. Genevieve County since March 2011, while Clay Waller was living in Jackson, near Cape Girardeau. The statement said both had started dating others during their separation.
On June 1, 2011, the Wallers met with an attorney about their divorce and argued at the meeting over financial problems, according to a document prepared by Jackson Police Chief James Humphreys.
Jacque Waller's blue Honda Pilot was seen at the house where Clay Waller was staying into the evening. Her family last heard from her that day when she said she was going to meet him to pick up one of the children.
Brenneke became suspicious that evening when she couldn't reach her sister. Rawson said Jacque Waller previously confided to Brenneke that Clay Waller had threatened her.
Jacque Waller's car was found along an interstate a day after she disappeared. Several searches since then have turned up sporadic leads, including the discovery of her purse in November near the site where the car was found.
The FBI said last year that Clay Waller suggested to his father that he had broken Jacque Waller's neck and buried her in a hole that he dug in advance. But Clay Waller has not made any confession to police, and his father died before he could testify.
Ruby Rawson, Jacque Waller's mother, said watching the children grow up without their mother is difficult.
"It's changed their whole lives," Ruby Rawson said. "We can't even watch news programs when they're in the room because we're always afraid something will come on the television."
Stan Rawson said the family is trying to shield the triplets from inadvertently learning their father is accused of killing their mother.
"We want them to be kids as long as they can be kids," he said. "I don't like the idea of growing up that quick. The day they hear that their dad is charged with killing their mom, they will grow up immediately, no doubt."