Fred Williams Tangela Walton

A Drew County jury sentenced a Monticello man to life in prison, plus 20 years, on Friday for killing a Warren woman then burying her body in a shallow grave near his home.

Fred Lee Williams, 51, was convicted of abuse of a corpse and first-degree murder in the April 2013 death of 36-year-old Tangela Walton, of Warren.

Walton was reported missing when she failed to pick up her daughter from daycare on April 5, 2013. Records show that Walton had received calls and text messages from Williams, her former boyfriend.

Williams later told officers he had buried Walton’s body then led the officers to a small grave located in a wooded area behind his home. He told officers he had a seizure while engaging in sex with Walton and when he woke, Walton was was not breathing.

The state Medical Examiner listed Walton’s death as a homicide caused by asphyxia. The autopsy report also noted multiple blunt force injuries.

In the sentencing phase of the trial, the State established that Williams has a history of violence. He has prior convictions of manslaughter, attempted second degree murder and being a felon in possession of firearm. Because of those prior convictions, he was classified as an habitual offender.

The jury deliberated about ten minutes on sentencing before returning with the life sentence for first degree murder and 20 years for abuse of a corpse, the maximum on both.