UPDATE: No new leads to murder victim's body after guilty plea

UPDATE: No new leads to murder victim's body after guilty plea

Posted: Updated:
Kody Climer leaving the courtroom May 10, 2019 Kody Climer leaving the courtroom May 10, 2019
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Update (2:45 p.m.)

Confessed killer Kody Climer's plea agreement does not include releasing where Linda Wilhite's body could be, according to the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office.

"Law enforcement is always willing to listen to leads," District Attorney Sunshine Stanek said after Climer's sentence. "At this point in time, I don't think there are any current leads, but I can speak for them -- and knowing those individuals -- that they will always be open to any information that could lead to her body."

Wilhite, 68, went missing in August 2016. The prosecution for her murder proceeded without her remains, Stanek said, because prosecutors could prove Wilhite's death with blood evidence, lack of contact, cell phone records, financial data, and witness testimony.

"The defendant doesn't get a benefit of the doubt for being smart enough to hide a body," Stanek said.

The trial was delayed earlier this week when detectives reviewed old evidence and offered their findings to both prosecutors and defense attorneys. Stanek said the evidence revolved around fingerprints; during opening statements, the defense said investigators hadn't thoroughly investigated bloody fingerprints left at the scene, and that lack of evidence would lead to an acquittal.

Stanek did not specify whether the reviewed evidence was directly connected to those statements, but said the defense's strategy allowed investigators to "focus in on certain pieces of evidence."

Stanek said Wilhite's family was pleased with the deal, which included the maximum sentence for a murder charge.

"We meet the best people in the worst circumstances," she said, "and I hope to maintain contact with them. [...] I hope that this resolution gives them a sense of closure, and they can begin to just take a deep breath and move on, not worry about the trial and not worry about what's going to happen -- at least with the legal aspect of things."

A victim impact statement from one of Wilhite's cousins thanked the district attorney's office for its work on the case, and in a direct statement to Climer, Jackie Shelton emphasized how much Wilhite loved him.

Parenting is the hardest task we are given but one of the most rewarding. I am sure Linda made mistakes with you and Ronnie as I have with my children and all parents have done at one time or another.

I know the last few weeks of her life she was told by several people "You need to get Kody out of your house." Her answer was always "I can't, he is my son. I can't put him out in the streets."

That is unconditional love God gives a mother. That is how a I [sic] know she loved you very much. That is what makes it so hard for me to understand how you could take her from her brother, her grandchildren and all of her family that loved her.

The statement claims Climer will have to face God someday; Shelton wrote she hopes he remembers every day, for the rest of his life, that Linda loved him unconditionally. She prays for peace and forgiveness for Wilhite's family.

Climer will serve a life sentence for Wilhite's death, according to the plea agreement; he will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

Original story (11:30 a.m.)

Just days after trial began, then a recess was called for the week, a man has pleaded guilty to killing his mother.

Kody Climer, 48, admits to killing his mother Linda Wilhite in 2016.  As part of the plea agreement on this murder charge, Climer received a life sentence. He will be eligible for parole. 

Wilhite had been reported missing. Her remains have not been found.

During opening statements prosecutor Cara Landers said Climer killed his mother over money. She said Climer's brother had died in a crash earlier that year and Climer wanted a cut of the insurance payment. Wilhite wouldn't give it to him, so Climer killed her.

Court records show police found a lot of blood in Wilhite's home and in her car. The day before this discovery, police report they pulled Climer over and saw a bowie knife and an ax or hatchet in the car. They also found Climer with two bags. Detectives say they found a large silver knife, Wilhite's debit card and a check made out to Climer for $500. 

After obtaining Wilhite's financials, investigators say Climer had tried to use her debit card numerous times since she was last seen.

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