Denise Williams charged with insurance fraud, pleads not guilty

Published: Aug. 10, 2018 at 6:15 AM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 10, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- New charges have been filed against Denise Williams in relation to the death of her husband, Mike Williams.

Mike Williams went missing after a duck hunting trick in December 2000. His body was found in Leon County 17 years later.

Denise is charged with his murder.

Brian Winchester, who was Mike's best friend and later Denise's husband, told investigators he and Denise planned Mike's murder together.

Denise faced a judge Friday morning on insurance fraud charges.

Leon County Clerk records show Denise was served a warrant at the jail Thursday on three counts of insurance fraud in excess of $100,000.

Denise's attorney, Ethan Way, spoke for her Friday morning, as she sat before the judge via video conference.

Way says his client did not commit insurance fraud.

Winchester, who is now Denise's ex-husband, told investigators back in October after being arrested for Mike Williams' murder, that Denise made off well from Mike's death.

During the interview with investigators, he said, "It was actually to Denise's benefit to put off getting paid the money."

He calculated Denise getting $2.25 million in total benefits from Mike's death.

"The insurance paid off. We had to be very careful about our relationship being found out. So we were very careful," Winchester said.

After Friday's hearing, Prosecutor John Fuchs said, "The state statute that exists in the state of Florida, nobody can benefit financially for a crime that they've committed regarding a homicide. She's obviously been charged with a homicide."

Winchester received immunity after telling investigators about the murder plot and where Mike's body was buried.

"What is Brian Winchester saying? What is he getting for what he's saying? It's just something else that the state's trying to put onto Denise right now. She'll be exonerated of these charges, just like she'll be exonerated of the other ones," Way said.

Fuchs said, "No comment," when asked if Winchester would also be charged with insurance fraud.

Denise's bond on the fraud charges was set at $50,000 for each count. She was denied bond for her previous charges.

Her trial is set for September 24.

By: Aubrey Brown | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 10, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Denise Williams, who is awaiting trial next month for the murder of her husband, is now facing additional charges.

Leon County Clerk records show Williams was served a warrant at the detention facility Thursday for three counts of insurance fraud in excess of $100,000.

According to court documents, Williams obtained three life insurance policies totaling $1.75 million from two insurance companies following the death of her husband, Mike Williams.

Mike Williams disappeared during a duck hunting trip in December 2000. His body was found in Leon County 17 years later.

months after her friend-turned-husband Brian Winchester entered a plea to kidnapping her. He broke his silence in exchange for immunity, claiming the two of them plotted to kill Mike.

Court documents state Mike Williams applied for life insurance coverage worth $250,000 in February 1995 due to his recent marriage to Denise. Brian Winchester is listed as the agent for the policy. In March 2000, Mike applied for additional life insurance from a different company, with a policy amount totaling $500,000. In April 2000, Mike completed another life insurance application worth $1 million, with Winchester listed as the agent.

Denise was listed as the primary beneficiary for all three policies.

Nineteen days after Mike was reported missing, one of the insurance companies received a claimant's statement from Denise and Winchester. The cause of Mike's death was listed as an accidental drowning.

When the other insurance company requested a claimant's statement, Mike's death was listed as a hunting accident. In addition, documents state Denise did not tell the second company about the $1 million policy that she had already filed a claim for.

By November 2001, Denise had received death benefit checks totaling more than $1.75 million.

Detectives say when Winchester was facing charges for kidnapping Denise, he agreed to provide information about Mike's death. Winchester reportedly told investigators he and Denise began having a romantic affair in 1997 and planned to kill Mike.

Winchester said Denise encouraged Mike to get the $1 million-life insurance policy when he was considering a lesser amount. He also told deputies that he and Denise had discussed killing Mike before Mike applied for the policy.

Authorities say Denise lied to the two insurance companies by listing Mike's death as accidental, when she reportedly had prior knowledge that he would not return from his hunting trip.

During Williams' first appearance Friday morning, she pleaded not guilty to all three counts of insurance fraud. Bail has been set at $50,000 for each count.

According to a Florida statute know as the "slayer statute" or "murder probate statute," a person who kills or participates in the death of their spouse is not entitled to any benefits under that person's will, including life insurance benefits.