Larry Allen Dinwiddie faces three charges after confessing to killing his wife, Cynthia Dianne Dinwiddie, and storing her remains in a storage unit freezer for four years.
Dinwiddie appeared in court Tuesday, Dec. 3 with his attorney, public defender Dewayne Perry. During the proceeding, a bond appearance was rescheduled for Dec. 31 at 8:30 a.m. His bond is currently set at $1 million.
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, Dinwiddie confessed to bludgeoning and strangling his wife to death, then storing her body in a freezer for four years, according to Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole.
The next day, Wednesday, Nov. 27, Webster County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin J. Berkstresser filed a felony complaint in the Circuit Court, charging Dinwiddie with second-degree murder, abandoning a corpse and armed criminal action.
However, later that day, another investigator with the Webster County Sheriff’s Office conducted a second interview with the accused, at Dinwiddie's request. As a result, Sheriff Roye Cole reported that the first charge may be upgraded to first-degree murder, as the interview revealed the murder appeared to have been premeditated.
Also on Nov. 27, Webster County Coroner Michael P. Taylor used DNA analysis to positively identify the body found in the freezer as belonging to Cynthia Dinwiddie, 56, 228 North St., Marshfield.
Dinwiddie, 57, of 228 North St., confessed to killing his wife by beating her with a hammer and strangling her. He told authorities that she had thrown a hammer at him, and he had killed her in retaliation.
When apprehended Nov. 26, Dinwiddie told Sheriff Cole and two Missouri State Highway Patrol officers that he was responsible for the death of Cynthia Dinwiddie, whose body was placed in a freezer that was then stored in a unit at McFadin Storage, 18037 Missouri 38, Marshfield.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail, Sheriff Cole said that Dinwiddie owned up to killing his wife, but he could not remember when. "He didn't know the exact date," Sheriff Cole said. "The labels of the food in the freezer were mostly from 2015. He said, 'Yeah, it’s probably been about four years.'"
Webster County dispatch was tipped off when a storage unit worker called them the afternoon of Nov. 25. Dinwiddie had not kept up payments on his locker, and so the worker was conducting inventory of the contents. "He cut off the lock of the freezer, and lo and behold, there was a deceased person in it," Sheriff Cole said.
The sheriff was out hunting when the call came in, so he called the Highway Patrol to assist deputies on the scene until he could arrive.
The storage unit worker told the investigators Dinwiddie's name, and that's when Sheriff Cole worked up a plan.
"We had to find this guy, and the storage worker was willing to help us," Sheriff Cole said.
Investigators made up a story for the worker to use. The individual told Dinwiddie that the freezer was no longer working and was starting to smell, so he would have to come and get it right away. Sheriff Cole said that Dinwiddie claimed that he was working in Denver at the moment as a truck driver — "Which was not true," Sheriff Cole said — but he would turn right around and come back.
In fact, Dinwiddie hadn't worked for a trucking company in at least a month, having lost his job, and he was not out of town at all, Sheriff Cole said.
Sheriff said that Dinwiddie came to pick up the freezer Nov. 26 around 2 p.m. "Myself and a couple of the troopers interviewed him, and he confessed,” the sheriff said. Patrol officers who participated in the interview with Sheriff Cole and helped to apprehend the subject were Sgt. Jason B. Trammell and Cpl. Mike Bracker.
Sheriff Cole said that Dinwiddie confessed to the murder about 30-45 minutes into the interview and gave the interviewers most of the details, including the identity of the body in the freezer. “We had assumed it was his wife but had not confirmed," Sheriff Cole said.
The couple married in 1989, according to records consulted by investigators through the Webster County Recorder’s Office. Missouri CaseNet searches revealed some rental properties, Sheriff Cole said, but no records had been seen for Cynthia Dinwiddie in quite a while.
How does a body remain hidden for four years with nobody asking about the victim's whereabouts? Sheriff Cole said that the couple no longer had children at the time of Cynthia Dinwiddie’s death, and she did not have family in the area; her nearest family was based in Alabama. When people asked about his wife, Larry Dinwiddie told them that he had kicked her out and she was gone.
"All the people here related to him thought she had moved away and they had gotten a divorce or split up," Sheriff Cole said.
Sheriff Cole said that Dinwiddie claimed his wife was an abusive alcoholic. "He said she threw a hammer at him, and that's all he could take — he took the hammer and murdered her with it," Sheriff Cole said.
An autopsy was conducted Monday, Dec. 2 but the results were not yet available at press time for this week's edition of The Mail. That report will reveal the cause of death. In his statement to Sheriff Cole and the Troopers, Dinwiddie said the he both beat Cynthia with a hammer and strangled her. "He didn't know at what point she had died," Sheriff Cole said.
Dinwiddie told the investigators that he had hidden the body because he was scared and didn’t know what else to do. “He basically just delayed the outcome," Sheriff Cole said.
When asked why Dinwiddie had not attempted to relocate the body, Sheriff Cole said that fear paralyzed him. "He was afraid that every time he would get close to it, he would get caught," he said.
His fear was evident in his interview, too, Sheriff Cole noted. “I think in a way he was almost glad it was over,” he said. “He’d been under some stress. I think he was almost glad to get it off his chest.”
When asked if Dinwiddie approached the storage unit in a furtive manner, Sheriff Cole said that he was more focused on being quick. “He was in a hurry. He pulled right up to the garage area and just walked in,” Sheriff Cole said. "Me and another trooper were in there ahead of him. We detained him, put him in cuffs and made sure he didn’t have a weapon, but we could tell he was not going to be violent at this specific time.”
All around the storage unit, deputies were stationed in case Dinwiddie took off running. Marshfield Police also provided aid.
At the end of the day, Sheriff Cole reported that he was glad Dinwiddie was apprehended. “I’m just really glad he’s in custody," he said.
The sheriff noted that Dinwiddie's confession made it possible for Cole to speak in an unusually transparent manner about the investigation.
"If he hadn't confessed, I would almost have had to talk in code before a future interview," Sheriff Cole said. “I can pretty much tell you anything."
A probable cause statement filed with the Webster County Circuit Court Wednesday added some details to the story released Tuesday about the discovery of the body and the apprehension of the suspect. The key part of the document enumerates the events leading to the murder as follows:
• Dinwiddie told investigators, “My wife was an abusive alcoholic.”
• The couple had been in an argument when Cynthia threw a hammer at him.
• After she threw the hammer at him, Dinwiddie said, he couldn’t take any more, and he “hit her with ‘everything’ he could.”
• He killed her with a hammer by striking her in the face and head, and he also strangled her.
• After killing her, he was scared and didn’t know what to do with her body, so he dragged her to the freezer and placed her inside.
Dinwiddie's confession included his answer to the query of why he kept the corpse in the freezer for four years: "Dinwiddie stated he just didn't know what to do," the document states.
The statement continues, "Dinwiddie claimed friends helped him move the locked freezer from his old house to the storage unit without knowing a person was inside."
When Dinwiddie was apprehended Tuesday, Nov. 26, he had shown up with friends to recover the freezer, which he had presumed was still locked.
Second-degree murder, the charge currently on file in Webster County, carries a penally of 10 to 30 years imprisonment, or a life sentence. The Class E felony of abandonment of a corpse includes a term of one to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The armed criminal action charge carries a term of not less than three years without eligibility for parole.
Dinwiddie is currently incarcerated in the Webster County Jail. Cynthia Dinwiddie’s remains have been transported to a Springfield mortuary.
Miles Bright of the Cedar County Republican in Stockton, a sister newspaper to The Mail, contributed to this report.