Suspect claims husband's death was failed murder-suicide
Newport, Vermont - June 30, 2011
It's a crime that has shocked the small community of Brownington.
"They were a nice, normal family," neighbor Lea Whiting said.
For nearly two years the public thought Charles Billis, 57, died in a tragic car crash just a few hundred feet from the family home. His wife Christine Billis, 44, went off Route 5A and hit a tree.
"There were a lot of people that knew the Billis and had some suspicions but there was nothing we could substantiate," Vt. State Police Sgt. Darren Annis said. "The investigation came to a standstill."
But the case was cracked wide open in recent months.
"We discovered some additional evidence that led us to believe this was not an accidental crash, it was done on purpose by Ms. Billis," Annis said.
Detectives say that information came from a person who recently met Christine Billis online and claims she admitted killing her husband. That person eventually met Billis in person and recorded conversations. Those tapes were turned over to police. In one of the recordings Billis said it "took months finding a way they couldn't prove it."
According to court papers, Billis went on to tell this person that her husband was controlling and threatened to kill her, she couldn't take the mental and verbal abuse, and wanted a divorce. When police confronted her about the taped conversations they say Billis eventually confessed, saying, "I saw the tree... the crazy part was that was the most beautiful thing I saw in my life... I couldn't take it anymore... Not gonna leave him with the kids... My intent was to kill both of us."
Billis is charged with first-degree murder. She suffered an anxiety attack just before the hearing, so Vt. Superior Court Judge Robert Bent wouldn't let her enter a plea.
"I am going to hold her without bail and she is remanded for evaluation at the State Hospital for competency," the judge said.
The judge also wants Billis to be examined to determine her sanity at the time of the crash. She has a history of mental illness.
Police wouldn't elaborate on the nature of the relationship between Billis and the informant, but clearly she trusted this person because according to court papers, after she was questioned by police, she told this person, "I'm busted."
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