This story, thankfully, is unlike many we’ve told here at Lifedaily. It is a tale of greed, desperation, and manipulation, and it is one that stands out amongst the millions of others out there for the sheer despicableness of the person whom it’s about.
It happened in the early 1980s in Valparaiso, Indiana. Hilma Marie Witte, a mother-of-two and career housewife, was having some trouble with her husband Paul…
Trapped and Unhappy
In 1981, Hilma Marie Witte, who went by Marie, was a young, attractive brunette living in a marriage that had long since lost it’s luster. She and her husband Paul had been married for the past decade and change, they had two sons together, and things had not been going well.
Indeed, Marie felt so trapped by the marriage that she could only think of one way to get out of it: Marie had to kill her husband. She tried the usual methods, rat poison, Valium, even Arsenic, but despite her Borgia-esque methods of assassination, Paul Witte persisted…
Not to be undeterred by her husband’s penchant for survival, Marie decided to pull out all the stops. She had always been a master manipulator, at least when it came to people other than her husband. She had a patsy who could help her get rid of Paul once and for all: her son, Eric.
And so Marie convinced her 15-year-old son, Eric that her father was planning on divorcing her and kicking the entire family out on the street. On September 1, 1981, Eric Witte shot his father, 43-year-old volunteer firefighter Paul Witte, in the family’s northern Indiana home…
When the police showed up, they initially ruled the shooting an accident. According to Marie and the couple’s other son, 10-year-old John “Butch” Witte, John was holding the gun and it accidentally went off when he tripped on the rug. At the time, they had no reason to believe anything different.
It wasn’t until three years later, that investigators began to become suspicious that perhaps Paul Witte’s death hadn’t been an accident after all. It all started when the boys’ grandmother and Marie’s mother-in-law, 74-year-old Elaine Witte took the family in following her son’s death…
Taking Her In
Following Paul’s death, his mother Elaine Witte wanted to make sure that her grandsons were cared for. Despite her distaste for her stepdaughter-in-law, she decided to take the family into her home. It wasn’t an ideal situation for anyone involved, but it seemed the only option that Marie Witte had after what she had orchestrated.
As it turned out, Marie was not merely a murderer, she was also a classless thief. In fact, she repaid her mother-in-law’s generosity by stealing money from her bank accounts. This went on for months and of course when Elaine found out, she confronted her about it. After a lengthy argument, Marie was asked to leave…
It was in the moment that Marie decided her mother-in-law needed to die too. Yet, rather than get Eric to do it, she decided to ask little Butch, who was only 14 at the time, to do the deed this time around. She used the same tactic she had the last time, telling Butch that grandma threatened to throw them out if something wasn’t done.
Butch remembers what went through his head in the days leading up to the deed.”I wanted to help my mom out.” He had agreed to kill his grandmother and to mentally prep himself, he decided to “party with himself” the night before. He drank, he smoked marijuana, and he girded himself for the terrible moment to come…
Up to Me
John was only 14, but he was an avid fan of Dungeons and Dragons. As such, he wanted to use a weapon he was comfortable with. When his mother told him that he could simply strangle his grandmother using a crossbow, he jumped at the chance. After all, a crossbow was a medieval weapon and he’d rather have killed her with a cool weapon than any other way.
As if to add even more complicity and unnecessary gore to an already terrible deed, once the deed was done, Marie had Butch help her cut up Elaine’s body with a knife and a chainsaw. After that, they traveled to California to dump the dismembered grandmother somewhere far from where they lived…
Marie then continued to live off of Elaine’s Social Security checks. She felt that there was no need to inform Uncle Sam that her mother-in-law was deceased. Uncle Sam however, likes to keep track of such things and a few months later, the entire family was brought in for forging Elaine’s signature on the checks.
Once they were brought in for questioning, Eric Witte decided to finally come clean. He explained what really happened, that he’d shot his father while he slept on the living room couch. He also explained that he thought he knew what had happened to Grandma Elaine as well…
The prosecutors came to Butch with a plea deal, which the scared 14-year-old happily accepted. He would testify against his mother and his older brother in connection with the crimes they were being charged with in connection with the Social Security checks and in return, his sentence would be commuted.
Hilda Marie Witte was charged with murder and conspiracy in the death of Elaine Witte. Meanwhile, Eric Witte was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Marie’s defense was to be expected, she tried to throw her children under the bus: stating that it was the boys who had contrived to commit the murders on their own.
Not Their Fault
“If I were [her son], I’d have been pretty frightened of my mother,” explained a former FBI profiler on the case. It explained why the kids never came clean right away. Think about it, if you’d seen your mother casually dismembering your grandma, you’d be pretty scared of what she might do to you if you didn’t obey her.
In the end, John and Eric were given 20- and five-year sentences, respectively. Two young boys, manipulated into doing their mother’s twisted bidding had now ruined their lives. Luckily for them, they were both released in 1996, having served only a small fraction of their sentences. As for their murderous momma….
She’s Earned It
When it was all said and done though, Hilma Marie Witte received a 90-year sentence. That wasn’t all either. In addition, a federal judge sentenced her to an extra 10 years in prison and fined her $10,000 for forging and cashing a little over a thousand dollars in Social Security checks.
It was a sentence that the awful woman had more than earned. Then in 2000, the universe proved that she was never to see the light of day again. Her request for a sentence modification was denied. She remains behind bars to this day and is likely she’ll die at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis.