Obstruction charges dropped in missing Woodstock woman case
WOODSTOCK – A judge tossed charges against a woman accused of lying to police as they investigated her friend's disappearance.
Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham, 38, of Woodstock, was charged in March with two counts of obstructing justice related to the missing-person case of Beth Bentley, who was last seen more than two years ago – May 23, 2010.
Police have said Wyatt lied to them when she said she did not have contact with Bentley on or after May 25, 2010. They also said Wyatt lied when she said she dropped off Bentley at an Amtrak station in Centralia so that Bentley could take a train back to Chicago.
Wyatt's attorney, assistant public defender Kim Messer, filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying there was no actual crime alleged.
In a written ruling Wednesday, McHenry County Judge Joseph Condon granted the motion.
"Neither count of the bill of indictment alleges the defendant acted with the intent to either prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person," Condon said. "Strictly speaking, neither count states an offense."
Messer said the judge was following the law.
"I would have been surprised had he ruled differently," she said.
Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs, who is also chief of the criminal division, said he respected Condon's decision.
He said he hasn’t decided whether to file new charges.
“I might,” Combs said.
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