The body of a U.S. Air Force veteran killed by her ex-husband was found in a marshy area of South Florida with his help Thursday, police said. Steven Williams admitted earlier this week that Tricia Todd hit her head on something when he pushed her down during an argument about money, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Department. Investigators said he told them he then drove her body away and dumped it in April.
Williams, a 30-year-old Air Force airman, led a search team to the spot where he said he buried Todd’s remains in the Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area, said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder. The 16,600-acre state park of pine woods and marshes in Martin and Palm Beach counties usually draws visitors for its hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing.
Williams agreed to a 35-year state prison sentence in exchange for pleading no contest to second-degree murder and showing investigators where he had left her body, Snyder said. A forensic crew was set to excavate the body Thursday night, he noted. “It is clearly freshly dug. There is every indication, based on what he told us, that the body should be there,” Snyder said at a news conference. “He has everything to lose by bringing us to the wrong place.”
Williams and Todd divorced Feb. 2 after 11 years of marriage, according to court documents obtained by the Palm Beach Post. Detectives who spoke to Williams’ mother said she heard him say, “Tricia can poof disappear,” the court documents said.
The sheriff told reporters that Williams changed his story about leaving the body by the side of a dirt road after agreeing to the plea deal. “We wanted to get the body back and we wanted to give closure to the family,” Snyder said. “There was no compelling physical evidence. There was never a guarantee that we would have gotten a conviction.” Todd, who was 30 at the time of her death, went missing April 27. She had been working as a hospice nurse, and she’s survived by the couple’s 2-year-old daughter.
Her family posted a statement Thursday on an 8,000-member Facebook group called Search for Tricia Williams Todd following the news that her body was believed to have been located.
“We are grateful to know that we will now be able to lay Tricia to rest with the grace and dignity that she deserves,” the family said. “Although this is not the outcome we wanted, we are incredibly grateful that Tricia is now home.”