Wilhoite was charged in March in connection with killing his wife, Elizabeth “Nikki” Wilhoite, after she had completed her last chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. According to the Lebanon Reporter, Elizabeth Wilhoite was allegedly seeking a divorce after confronting Wilhoite about having an affair when the two got into an argument.
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According to the Indiana State Police, as the argument escalated Wilhoite “allegedly struck her in the head” with a cement, gallon-sized flower pot. He then allegedly placed her body in his car and dumped her body in a nearby creek.
“She’s fighting to stay alive, to see her kids grow up. To have it end like this, it’s just a tragedy that no one should have to go through. It just shouldn’t be that way,” a childhood friend of Elizabeth’s, Mary Smith, told local news outlet WRTV.
Wilhoite’s arrest was detailed on social media weeks before the election.
"The investigation continued into the evening and, eventually, Andrew Wilhoite, Nikki's husband, was arrested for murder by the Indiana State Police and Nikki Wilhoite's body was found in a creek within a few miles of the Wilhoite residence," a Facebook post by the Boone County Sheriff’s office said. It explained how the missing person report escalated into a domestic homicide investigation.
While Wilhoite initially lied about his wife’s whereabouts to detectives, he later admitted to killing her, NBC News affiliate WTHR reported. When police officials found her body, officials noted that despite being submerged in at least three feet of water, the cause of death was not drowning,
“All signs point to that she died at home,” Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood said in March. “Nothing indicates that she drowned.”
Indiana state election officials have confirmed that it is legal for people charged with a felony to run for local office, but they become ineligible if they are convicted.
“There is no legal reason he can’t be a candidate,” Brad King, co-director of the bipartisan Indiana Election Division, told the Tribune-Star. “Under our system, you are innocent until you are proven guilty. If a person is convicted of a felony, then they are no longer eligible to be a candidate and are ineligible to hold office.” He noted that if convicted, depending on the time of the conviction, the person can be replaced on the ballot by the political party that has a vacancy.
According to King, if the election takes place before Wilhoite’s trial, Wilhoite can take his oath of office in jail. Wilhoite also has the ability to remove his own name before the June 15 deadline.
This situation may be a first. Boone County Republican Chairwoman Debbie Ottinger told the Tribune-Star that she cannot remember a time when an incarcerated candidate has won a primary.
“Our hope is that he asks to be removed from the ballot and we can just replace him,” she said, “but I don’t know if anyone has talked to him about that.”
According to The Washington Post, while a date has not been set for Wilhoite’s murder trial, it is expected to begin in late August. If convicted of first-degree murder, the 40-year-old could face life in prison or even the death penalty, state law says.