November 19, 1996 in Nation/World

Bloody Trail Leads Kids To Mom’s Body Husband Accused Of Bludgeoning Her With Hammer

Winda Benedetti S Craig Welch And Wa Staff writer
 

Police say a 45-year-old Wallace man bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer Monday, then stuffed her body in the trunk of the family car.

John Whipple confessed to killing his 46-year-old wife, Deborah, in their garage, leaving two of his children to find the bloody mess, according to police.

John Whipple was charged Monday with first-degree murder.

There hadn’t been a homicide in the small mining town for a decade.

“That’s one too many,” said Wallace Police Chief Scott TenEyck.

The Whipples lived about three months in the southern hillside neighborhood overlooking the town. They have three daughters - 13, 15, and 18 years old - and a 21-year-old son living in Boise.

Deborah Whipple worked as housekeeper at the Brooks Hotel in Wallace. John Whipple has been unable to work due to a disability.

Neighbors said they saw no signs of trouble at the home on 918 Maple Street.

“People are pretty quiet up here,” said John Garner, who had just talked to John Whipple the day before. “I never figured something like this would happen.”

“If there was something going on and I was this close, I wish I could have done something about it,” said neighbor Berri Swasand.

Vicky Stanley, who owns the Brooks Hotel with her husband, said Deborah Whipple was quiet and reserved, but well-liked.

“Housekeeping is kind of a solitary position, so she didn’t come in contact with many employees,” Stanley said. “But those she did meet really liked her. She was always very professional, polite and courteous, and a hard worker.”

Stanley said Whipple never talked about her family or any problems at home during her six months at the hotel.

But court records show Whipple recently filed for a domestic violence protection order against her husband.

Court records show officers arrested John Whipple about a month ago after he violated that order.

“Unfortunately, the victim dropped the protection order,” the police chief said.

The couple was living with each other again Monday when Whipple’s 15-year-old daughter called 911 about 1:30 p.m.

The girl had been at home with her 18-year-old sister and a 25-year-old male friend. The younger girl told police her parents were outside fighting. Although she was inside the house she could hear them yelling.

The girl pulled on her outdoor clothes to go out in the snow and check on her parents, who were in the garage, down the hill, below the house.

“She got down to the garage and she saw dad trying to clean the blood up with a blanket,” TenEyck said. “She asked him where mom was and he said, ‘Mom’s gone.”’

Whipple tried to drive away with the body in the trunk of their blue, four-door sedan, but the car wouldn’t start, said Sgt. Art Harris.

Whipple then left the house on foot, Harris said.

Although they didn’t see the fight, the children knew their mother was in the trunk because of blood smears leading toward the car, TenEyck said. Since Whipple had taken the keys with him, the children desperately tried to pull the back seat out of the car to get to their mother.

When emergency workers arrived, they used a hydraulic prying tool to open the trunk.

Deborah Whipple was already dead, apparently struck several times in the head with a hammer, TenEyck said.

A bloody hammer was found in the garage with the car, he said.

Whipple turned himself in at the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Department in downtown Wallace about 15 minutes later. He cried as he told investigators what he’d done, Harris said, but he did not detail why he attacked his wife.

“He thought the world was messing with his brain,” Harris said.

Whipple is being held in the Shoshone County Jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned today.

, DataTimes MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Winda Benedetti Staff writer Staff writers Craig Welch and Ward Sanderson contributed to this report.

Cut in the Spokane edition

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Winda Benedetti Staff writer Staff writers Craig Welch and Ward Sanderson contributed to this report.


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