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Clay Waller

Clay Waller sits down with his attorneys after entering the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse to plead guilty to a murder charge in 2013. Seated behind him are family members of Jacque Rawson Waller.

Press pool (file) photos by Laura Simon, Southeast Missourian

The Cape Girardeau man who was sentenced to 20 years for the 2011 murder of his estranged wife received a federal sentence of 35 years for interstate domestic violence, a charge he pleaded guilty to in October of this year.

According to court documents, James "Clay" Waller received the 420-month sentence in federal court Tuesday. The sentence is to run concurrent with the sentence he is already serving.

Waller pleaded guilty to the charge of interstate domestic violence in October as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors in connection with the June 2011 murder of his wife, Jacque Rawson Waller.

A stipulation of the agreement enforced in the sentencing is that Waller must forfeit any income gained by the publication or adaptation of a book manuscript authored by Waller and obtained by agents of the FBI called, “If You Take My Kids, I’ll Kill You!: The Public Confession of Missouri’s Most, Notorious Wife Killers.”

Waller and Jacque Waller were in the middle of a divorce and were the parents of triplets. She disappeared the night of June 1, 2011, shortly after the two met with a divorce attorney.

At the time, she was planning to start a new life for herself and the couple's triplets with a new boyfriend in Farmington. Since then, the triplets have been adopted by Jacque Waller's sister and brother-in-law.

As federal, state and local investigators worked on the case, Waller was first charged with threatening her sister. A prosecutor said Waller had confessed to his father about the murder, but his father then died.

In April of 2012, Waller was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, even though his wife's body had not been found.

Waller was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of Jacque Waller after pleading guilty to second degree murder in state court in 2013.

As part of that agreement, Waller led police to the location of his late wife’s remains in Alexander County, in southern Illinois.

In the 182-page manuscript reviewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before being sealed from public availability, Waller apparently described his motive for the crime being the fear of losing his children after Jacque Waller had discovered he had been having an affair.

The Post-Dispatch also reported that in the manuscript Waller detailed his year-long consideration of the murder, during which time he scouted for an area to dig a grave for his wife. The charge of interstate domestic violence stems from Waller’s digging of the grave in Illinois, returning to Missouri to strangle and beat his wife to death and crossing back to Illinois to bury her.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at



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