UPDATES throughout with Sheley’s apology, family reaction
HILLSBORO • A man who killed six people in Illinois nine years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering a couple at a hotel in Festus — and then dropped to his knees to apologize for what he did.
Judge Gary Kramer sentenced Nicholas Sheley to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Tom and Jill Estes. He also sentenced Sheley to 75 years for two counts of armed criminal action.
Also that day, the bodies of Kenneth Ulve, 25, Brock Branson, 29, Branson’s fiancée Kilynna Blake, 20, and her 2-year-old son, Dayan Blake, were found inside a Rock Falls apartment. They had all been bludgeoned to death with a hammer.
HILLSBORO • A man who killed six people in Illinois nine years ago is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to murdering an Arkansas couple who were staying at a hotel in Festus.
Relatives of the couple are unhappy about the plea because it would remove the possibility of the death penalty in the case.
Tom and Jill Estes, both 54, of Sherwood, Ark., were staying at the Comfort Inn in Festus in June 2008 because it allowed dogs. They were in town for a graduation party in St. Louis. The Jennings High School sweethearts were the last of Nicholas Sheley’s victims — eight in all, police said.
Sheley had already killed a 93-year-old man in his hometown of Sterling, Ill.; four people including a 2-year-old in Rock Falls, Ill.; and a 65-year-old man in Galesburg, Ill., when he happened upon the couple at the Festus hotel.
After beating the Esteses to death, police say Sheley loaded