top of page

Delia SantaMaria, 44, August 11, 1985, Murdered in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois


Delia, 44 at the time had been married to Dr. Antonio Santa-Maria, 67 for 26 years. Living in Galesburg, they had six adult children ranging between ages twenty to twenty-five. Both of them were born in Mexico and the Doctor received his medical degree at a Mexican University. As a surgeon in the United States however, he was not licensed to practice.

In 1985 after several attempts to leave her husband and 26 years of marriage, Delia finally got to the point where divorce was the only solution. She worked at the Applegate Nursing Home.

August 1, 1985 a plumber saw a large freshly dug hole in the basement.

August 3, 1985 Delia told her son she was filing for divorce. Antonio's response was he'd rather kill her then himself rather than go thru a divorce.

August 7, 1985 a new 10 cubic foot freezer was put in to the bedroom closet by a mover.

August 9 1985 Anthony was given the divorce papers.

August 10, 1985 Delia worked 3PM - 11PM. Delia told a co-worker nurse during this shift that she would be seeking a divorce. During this conversation, when the nurse asked Delia what she thought her husband would do, she responded 'Well, Susan, the papers are in the mail. I don't know what he'll do." Antonio was busy going to Sears and purchasing a food processor.

August 11, 1985

Delia did not show up for her scheduled shift at Applegate, which was completely out of her character. Her supervisor called the home which Anthony answered and said that she went to Chicago and abruptly hung up the phone. That night, her sons went to her work and heard Antonio's response.

August 12, 1985

The following day Delia failed to show up for work again, and the administrator called Delia's residence. Antonio first said she went to North Carolina, then switched and said she had gone to Chicago but he lost the address where she said she was at. The administrator this time said that she would contact the police if she did not hear from Delia in an hour. Her husband said 'I would rather have you wait three or four days."

A neighbor that same day witnessed the husband digging a hole in the garden, about 1 to 1 1/2 feet deep, and witnessed him filling hole the next day and smoothing it over.

This would be the same day that Delia's attorney received a letter from Antonio stating that they were attempting to reconcile their relationship. He said he wrote this letter instead of Delia because she was too embarrassed as she has previously stopped divorce proceedings in the past.

August 13, 1985

Delia's sons went and filed an official police report. They shared their suspicions with the Galesburg Police, and that they noticed digging was going on in the basement of the house and Delia's garden in the backyard. Anthony never worked on that garden prior to.

The Galesburg Police got a picture of Delia and searched public areas including train and bus stations, They went to her work where they received confirmation she had not been there. Employees there shared the information they had with speaking with the husband. Delia disappeared, but left her vehicle and the keys, her purse with her drivers license, make up and checkbook all still in the house. This got them the search warrant for the residence.

638 Peck Street, Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois

Upon entry of the home they saw Delia's room (which was separate from Antonio's own bedroom) with a bicycle lock. Her bathroom door was also locked. Once they gained entry in to her bedroom they found her stained clothes with what appeared have blood on them, and on a hanger.

In the basement of their home, police found an area where the floor bricks had been removed. An Officer began to dig until the shovel hit something that felt 'soft and spongy'. They then continued digging, but by hand. About a foot and a half in, they felt skin. They stopped the digging and contacted the Illinois State Police.

The crime scene technician for the Illinois State Police entered the residence and continued the search in the basement floor. They found blood spattered on the walls and floor of Delia's bedroom and bathroom. They then went to the garden area to find more evidence.

She had to be identified by her dental records.

Antonio at this point was admitted in to the Cottage Hospital, where the police went and arrested him for the murder of his wife. He told police that he woke up with Delia standing over him with a knife in her hand. They struggled from his bedroom to her bathroom. He said he tried to knock the knife out of her hands with his fist, hitting her several times. This struggle caused a cut on Delia's neck. He finally pushed her backward in to the bathtub, causing her fall and hit her head against the bathtub. He then cut her throat and put the rest of her body in the bathtub. He disarticulated her body into 15 pieces, removing her heart, liver, pancreas, idnes, intestinal tract and a large portion of the left lung. He wrapped each organ in white linen. He buried the torso, legs and feet in the basement. He then buried the head, arms and hands in the garden.

Police also found receipts and refund slips for a meat grinder, spatula, and meat cleaver from a restaurant supply company and for a Sears food processor. The food processor was tested and traces of human blood and hair were found. It was determined that the hair and blood could have come from Delia but not Antonio's.

The authorities believe he didn't want to accept a divorce and killed her. The prosecution would say in court that 'he cut off her head while she was still alive'. After her horrific death and dismemberment, he went back to Sears the next day requesting a refund for the food processor stating his 'wife didn't like it. Anthony got his refund.

The Crime laboratory found hair and blood in the food processor which resulted in similarities to Delia's hair and blood types.

The trial lasted 7 days. He was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. He was found guilty of murdering his wife and the charge of concealment of a homicidal death. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of natural life plus five years for the concealment of a murder. He reportedly showed no remorse, saying 'I did not kill my wife. She killed herself'. During sentencing he added, 'I am not a butcher. You are lying.

Antonio Santamaria died in prison at Joliet in 2001 at age 82.

Sad to say, I have been unable to find any pictures of Delia.

From what I gathered, that house has since been torn down.

Information accumulated thru: Court Documents


Galesburg Darkness

The Chicago Tribune

AP News

United Press International

Missing & Murdered in the Midwest podcast

5,186 views4 comments


Mollie Patterson
Mollie Patterson
Jul 12, 2022

Good evening God's beautiful souls of Light!

I came across this article and Delia's grandaughter's comments a few minutes ago. Have you ever believed that a person you encountered, during your life, was one of God's earthly angels? That was Delia. I can see her now, busily taking care of her patients, and the love they had for her, because they knew that she cared. Have you ever been certain that a person is with God?


Mollie Patterson
Mollie Patterson
Jul 12, 2022

I taught your grandmother in the Carl Sandburg College Nurse Assistant Program in Galesburg, Illinois. Delia will never be forgotten. Her kindness to her patients and everyone who came in contact with her, told me that she was indeed one of God's beautiful souls of Light.

Her skills in caring for her patients were testimony of her intelligence, for she possessed professional skills, that she received before coming to the U.S. I would have loved teaching her in CSC's Associate Nursing Program, and had she lived, I believe she would have furthered her nursing career.

Be very proud of your grandmother, who watches over her children and grandchildren, because that was who she was. Think of her as assisting you…


Sep 15, 2020

This is my grandmother Delia Santamaria. My mother, Margarita, was her only daughter. I wasnt born until 1993 and I wish very often I could have met my grandmother. She was very loved.

willam Estrada
willam Estrada
May 12, 2022
Replying to

Wow she was very pretty. Sad. Where where your grandparents from in Mexico? Where are they buried?

bottom of page