SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (TCD) — A 33-year-old man was recently sentenced to life in prison for the 2019 kidnapping and slaying of a 34-year-old missing victim whose body has not yet been found.
According to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, a concerned citizen notified the Springfield Police Department of a possible murder after Dustin Winter forced the person to clean a U-Haul van “that had blood inside as well as rope believed to have been used to restrain the victim.”
Authorities searched the van and reportedly found blood and DNA evidence that matched the victim, Elijah Reynolds, who had been missing for several weeks, KOLR-TV reports.
The concerned citizen also gave the Springfield Police Department a bag he found labeled “Bell,” which contained “items of identification belonging to the victim,” Patterson said.
Upon further investigation, Patterson said Winter allegedly lured Reynolds into a home by requesting help with moving. Winter reportedly believed that Reynolds had assaulted someone he knew.
After luring the victim into a home, Patterson said Winter made multiple Google searches, including, “Sulfuric acid on animals,” “Can acid dissolve a body?” and “55 gallon drum.”
In September 2022, Winter was found guilty of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree murder. Several months later, on Friday, Jan. 20, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to Patterson.
Two other people involved in the kidnapping and murder, William Skaggs, 25, and Kaleigh Pickle, 27, were already sentenced, KOLR reports.
Skaggs reportedly pleaded guilty to kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years for kidnapping and five for the manslaughter charge.
Pickle was sentenced to five years in prison for kidnapping, KOLR reports.
The two were reportedly facing second-degree murder charges initially.