Standard man found guilty on murder and concealment charges
HENNEPIN — The family members of Deborah Dewey waited almost two years for justice.
On Friday, a Putnam County jury delivered it in the form of two guilty verdicts against in-law Clifford A. Andersen Jr.
Andersen, 68, of Standard, was found guilty of the concealment of the homicidal death and first-degree murder of Dewey, his sister-in-law. After a two-week trial, he now faces 20 to 60 years or more in prison, with no possibility of parole.
Dewey, 62, of Ladd was reported missing Aug. 23, 2016; her body was found that Sept. 12 by Illinois State Police investigators at a house in Standard for which Andersen was caretaker and only blocks from his home.
Sentencing was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Aug. 23.
Dewey’s family issued a joint statement following the verdicts and thanked the prosecutors, the Illinois State Police and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
“Justice for Debbie has been a long time coming,” Sue Marshall, Dewey’s niece, said.
Before closing statements began Friday morning, Judge Stephen A. Kouri told the jury he appreciated their concentration and commitment through 55 witnesses and more than 600 exhibits.
“You are probably the finest jury Putnam County could offer and likely in the entire 10th Circuit,” Kouri told them.
Putnam County State’s Attorney Christina Judd-Mennie presented for the prosecution.
“Clifford Andersen had access and control to three properties in Standard, no one else could’ve gotten Dewey there,” she said, later adding that Dewey “was his golden goose.”
Andersen’s gambling habits and payday loans requiring minimum payments of $1,200 at 35 to 78 percent interest were used in the establishment of a motive.
As Dewey slowly drained her retirement account, Mennie said she eventually realized she’d not set enough aside for tax obligations and finally had cut Andersen off financially.
“His actions alone killed Debbie Dewey,” Mennie said.
She also described how much time Andersen had to cover his tracks.
“21 days. This defendant had three weeks to dispose of the weapon, bloody clothes, her phone, which has never been found, and to clean the crime scene,” she said.
DNA was found on blood inside a carpet cleaner, which was seized from Andersen’s home and contained his DNA and Dewey’s blood.
Defense attorney Rob Parker called the evidence “confusing” and questioned the “logistics and time demands” needed to commit the crime and the initial concealment.
Parker said he was taking the jury “back into the weeds” of arguably the most confusing day of the trial. Because of how different carriers report their records and towers may switch because of reception, the records were widely acknowledged to be difficult to follow.
However, on Aug. 22, Andersen made four morning phone calls to Dewey and then never called her again despite a lengthy history of multiple calls a day.
With help from his friend, Bob Hundt, Andersen drove Dewey’s car to the Denny’s and got a ride back home from Hundt. He was later seen parking at the edge of the lot, when he usually parked in the front row, entered a different vehicle and left.
Andersen parked Dewey’s car at the truck stop in Morris, called Hundt for a ride back to Denny’s, and then persuaded Hundt to lie about their whereabouts. Hundt eventually recanted his story and testified to their true actions.
The defense conceded Dewey was killed in the Standard home at 104 Fifth St. and acknowledged there might be enough evidence for concealment, but not murder.
As for the many high-interest payday loans and his client’s fondness for gaming machines, Parker was skeptical.
“This isn’t like really owing money, like to the mafia or some nefarious force that’s coming to break your legs. You don’t owe money to gaming machines,” he said, adding a $1,200 payment “isn’t desperation.”
Prosecutor Mary Claire Nicholson reminded the jury that after Andersen told investigators he was desperate to find Dewey, he was seen on video gambling within the hour.
Assistant Illinois Attorney General Bill Elward said Mennie argued a wonderful case and gave all the credit for the state’s victory to her and Nicholson.
“You won’t see many murder trials like this. It was a very complex and nuanced case and they deserve all the credit,” he said.