Prosecutors Allege Delaney Stabbed to Death by Burr

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Published on December 18 2013 4:34 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Prosecutors allege that a rural Dieterich woman stabbed Joseph Delaney to death and then had the help of two other individuals in disposing of Delaney's body.  An anonymous tip led to the investigation and arrests.

57-year-old Christine Burr is charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death in Delaney's death.  40-year-old Kristy L. Mathis of Effingham and 25-year-old Zebediah R. Houser of Effingham are each charged with a count of concealment of a homicidal death.  Mathis is Burr's daughter.

Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler shared in court Wednesday that investigators got their break in the case when the Evergreen Park Police Department received a tip on or around December 2 of a possible homicide that had occurred in Effingham County a few years earlier.  The tip indicated that the deceased was a man by the name of Joe Miller, who lived with Burr in an apartment complex in Effingham.  The tip indicated that Burr had stabbed Joe Miller and that Joe Miller's body was buried in the woods by Burr's daughter, Kristy Mathis.

Further investigation determined that "Joe Miller" was actually Joseph Delaney.  Kibler said Delaney had not lived in Effingham long at the time of the incident, was from the Cook County area, and that no one suspected anything when he was no longer seen around Effingham.

Once police obtained Delaney's drivers license, it was determined that he resembled a forensic reconstruction of the remains of a man found in a wooded area north of Newton near the Embarras River on March 10, 2012.  Authorities also knew that Houser is a native of Willow Hill in Jasper County.  The remains were located off a rural road commonly used as the "back way" to Willow Hill from Newton.

Law enforcement later conducted court authorized overhears involving Kristy Mathis.  During these recorded conversations, Mathis made incriminating statements that confirmed the original tip that Mathis had witnessed Delaney's killing and that Delaney's body had been dumped in a wooded area.

Kristy Mathis and Zebediah Houser

Police interviewed Houser and Mathis on Monday.  Their statements indicate that Burr and Delaney were sharing an apartment at Colonnade Apartments off Hendelmeyer Avenue in Effingham and that Houser and Mathis, who were then in a relationship, were invited over to the apartment for dinner.  While preparing dinner, Burr was boiling a pot of water.  Burr got into an argument with Delaney and during the argument Burr threw the pot of boiling water into Delaney's face.  While Delaney was struggling with the effects of the boiling water, Burr stabbed Delaney in the chest with a knife.  Delaney died in the apartment according to the statements.  Later that evening, Mathis said she helped Burr load Delaney's body into a van and Mathis admitted helping Burr clean up the blood stains at the apartment and to later removing and burning Delaney's personal effects.

Burr was also interviewed on Monday and told police that at the time, her husband had recently died of a drug overdose.  During the argument with Delaney, Delaney admitted giving her husband the drugs that led to his death.  She also acknowledged throwing the boiling water on Delaney and stabbing him, as well as helping dispose of the body.

No one has been able to pinpoint the date of the incident, but it occurred sometime between July 1, 2011 and the discovery of the remains in Jasper County.

During today's court appearance, Judge Sherri Tungate set Burr's bond at $1 million and set bond for Mathis and Houser at $200,000 each.  Public Defender Scott Schmidt was named to represent Burr, Richard Runde was appointed to represent Houser, and Lupita Thompson was named to represent Mathis.

The three are scheduled to make their first court appearances with their attorneys at 11am on Monday, December 23.  They are being held in Effingham County Jail.