Witness describes Andersen as a panhandling 'nuisance'
HENNEPIN — The third day of testimony Friday in the Putnam County trial regarding Deborah Dewey’s murder included the introduction of dozens of pieces of evidence seized from the home of Clifford A. Andersen Jr., her brother-in-law.
Andersen, 68, of Standard is charged with first-degree murder and the concealment of the homicidal death of Dewey, 62, of Ladd. If convicted, Andersen faces 20 to 60 years or more in prison, with no possibility of parole.
Dewey was reported missing Aug. 23, 2016; her body was found that Sept. 12 in the yard of a Standard home for which Andersen was the caretaker and only blocks from his residence.
Illinois State Police Officer Anna Wasylyszn, an expert in the gathering and preservation of evidence, testified Friday that proper procedures were followed in the execution of the search warrant for Andersen’s home in Standard.
Items taken and entered as evidence by Assistant Illinois Attorney General Bill Elward include gloves; soiled towels; six bottles of carpet-cleaning solution; cleaning brushes; multiple lengths of rope, which Wasylyszn said matched the rope found in the grave; a cell phone; a journal with press clippings about Dewey’s disappearance; a checkered shirt that matched a description mentioned earlier in the trial by a different witness; missing person fliers; a washing machine hose; a blue tarp; a bag of straw hay; a carpet cleaner; and carpet fibers.
The defense, led by Drew and Rob Parker, of Parker and Parker Law Firm, of Peoria, had no cross-examination questions for Wasylyszn.
Melanie Poppewell, a waitress at the Morris truck stop where Dewey’s car was recovered and where Andersen was a regular, described his behavior. “He was more of a nuisance more than anything else,” she said.
She said he regularly portrayed himself as a veteran needing financial help and that people would buy him meals or give him money, which he would then immediately go and gamble with in gaming machines.
The defense objected to this portrayal of their client and was overruled after Elward said it established him as a gambler and a regular, as well as refuting Andersen’s claim that he hadn’t been in Morris in months.
Maria Krowlek, an asset protection manager for the Peru Walmart store, testified about her procedures as she assisted investigators. Stills from multiple surveillance videos showed Andersen parking, entering and purchasing a dozen 40 pound bags of manure. A bag of the same manure was found near the grave.
Putnam County resident David Buckley took the stand to describe driving past the house where Dewey was found and seeing a startled-looking Andersen entering the vacant home with a carpet cleaner.
A Standard teenage boy, now 16, who mowed grass at the properties for which Andersen was caretaker, testified to mowing on Sept. 5, 2016, and that the yard was undisturbed. A day or two later, he noticed the area had changed. He mowed again on Sept. 11, but then Andersen told him not to mow there anymore.
The prosecution expects to be done with presenting its evidence and witnesses by next Wednesday, and Judge Stephen Kouri said he was hopeful to have the jury deliberating before the end of the week.