Lacon, Ill. (WEEK) – A 39-year-old Edelstein man has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Tiffini Marie Murphy. Murphy was reported missing since August 31, 2018.
Gary C. Berchtold faces two counts of first degree murder, one count of dismembering a human body and one count of concealing a homicidal death. He could face life in prison combining the time assigned to each charge. Berchtold’s bond is set at $1 million.
Berchtold allegedly shot and killed Murphy after driving her back to his house in rural Edelstein. He then burned her body on a chair and threw tires and wood onto the fire. Berchtold’s friend, Christopher Williams, helped him move the ashes to a remote area in Peoria County near the Marshall County line.
Marshall County Deputy Jason Spradling says Berchtold told Williams he was getting rid of the burn pile because it had tattoo needles in it. Deputy Spradling applied for a search warrant of Berchtold’s residence on Friday. Marshall County Deputies and Illinois State Police were checking the burn pile when Gary arrived home. They talked with Berchtold from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Berchtold admitted that he never dropped Tiffini off in Lacon.
According to court testimony, Berchtold got out of his truck to stop an argument between Williams and Murphy and saw they had his handgun. Berchtold claims he tried to break up the fight and shot the gun 5-6 times. He said at least one of the bullets struck Tiffini in the head.
Berchtold’s will have a scheduling conference Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.