Updated: Aug 16
Denise Lee Newton Leuthold, 39
February 14, 2013, Valentine’s Day
Denise and Nathan Leuthold were married eighteen years with three children, ages 4, 10 and 12. They all lived together with Denise’s parents in their home located at 700 West Mossville Road in Peoria, Illinois Denise and Nathan were involved in missionary work, bringing them to travel across the globe. In Lithuania, they met a young child, Aina Dobilaite when she was about six years old. The couple sponsored her move to the United States when she turned eighteen and held a student visa. According to court documents, Nathan had a joint bank account with Aina where he made deposits, paid her living and school expenses for at least the two years she was in the U.S. Aina lived in their home while she attended the Illinois Central College in Peoria and had her own bedroom.
Two days before Denise’s death, Nathan called the police late at night to report a suspicious vehicle parked in the driveway across the street from their residence. When police arrived, the vehicle was not there.
February 14, 2013
12:15 P.M. Denise took her four year old daughter to her kindergarten class, leaving about 12:20 P.M. – 12:25P.M. Nathan picked her up after class.
3:00 P.M. Nathan called 911 to report a burglary at their residence. Police noticed the garage door was opened and Nathan stood across the street in the driveway. Nathan told police he just returned from picking up his daughter, came home and saw the garaged door open and broken glass on one of the windows of the home. He said he was trying to reach Denise because she was the one that was supposed to pick the kids up from school, but was unable to reach her.
When officers entered the home, it was very evident that this was a staged burglary. The kitchen was raided with cabinet doors and drawers opened, some of them neatly placed on the floor.
One of the officers observed a female “facedown with her head in a pool of blood and a spent shell casing and a live round next to her head.” Nathan never asked questions or approached an officer before or after officers’ first entry in to the home. The body was confirmed to be Denise Leuthold.
Denise’s vehicle was missing, and soon located at a park down the street from the residence at Robinson Park. Officers recovered fleece gloves about fifty feet from the vehicle next to a picnic table. The following day investigators found a set of keys to the vehicle in the trash near where the vehicle was found.
When police took Nathan for his interview, they drove passed the park where the vehicle had been located. Nathan remarked “the car is gone”. At the station Nathan gave consent to search the house, the vehicles, the bedroom, his cell phone and laptop. During the search they found a letter from Denise to Nathan.
“What on earth could you possibly be thinking? I can’t imagine anything you could tell me that would hurt worse than what you were doing to me now – every day. I really don’t think there is anything that I have done or not done that would cause me to deserve this. I have tried to please you for seventeen years and never succeeded. I’ve never been good enough. Never done enough. I know that you want me dead. I’m not stupid. I suppose it will confirm my worthlessness to you when I write that I am not brave enough to do that job for you. And now all of a sudden, you are taking me with you places. What is that all about? Maybe you think I don’t feel bad enough. You act like you are somehow noble because you won’t tell me why you are doing this. It makes me sick. I have been willing at any time to fall in love with you again, but you reject me every time. I wish I could hate you. I’ve tried to hate you because I thought it would make it easier. I thought it wouldn’t hurt so bad. Of course, I couldn’t do it, so I have failed at that, too. I have been without pride. I have humiliated myself to try to win something that belongs to me. You defraud me, and you don’t seem to care. Well, I quit. I’m not going to try to please you anymore. I will do what I have to do, but no more of that game. You want to humiliate me by running around with a 20 year old? Fine. I won’t grovel. If I haven’t pleased you in seventeen years, nothing I do now will please you. And I refuse to leave my children just because you have decided to do this to me. You are the only person who thinks I am a bad mother. Complete strangers compliment me on them, so I will not join you in your obsession with perfection. I am the same person that I’ve always been. I am not weaker and in many ways stronger. I refuse to play to your perfectionism in that, too. I have borne neglect and criticism and kept going. But now this. How long? How long are you going to do this to me? Oh, yeah until I break. That’s what you said, isn’t it? Well, happy waiting.”
During the search a black hooded sweatshirt was recovered from the bedroom, where they also found Denise’s purse, wallet, and three hundred dollars cash in a dresser drawer.
March 6, 2013 Nathan Leuthold was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder.
Aina initially plead the fifth, but then received immunity to speak in court of her relationship with Denise and Nathan. She admitted countless times she went to the spa paid for by Nathan. She traveled to Europe with Nathan in 2011 and 2012. They went to a gym every other week. She went with Nathan and stayed together in a rented apartment in November 2012. She admitted staying with him again in another rented location in Chicago December 2012 but said she did not stay overnight. None of these moments were with Denise. She admitted to being with Nathan when practice shooting. She admitted Nathan’s family was paying for her attorney but said she did not know the funds for her attorney came from an account that was set up for Nathan’s children.
Aina spoke to Nathan’s parents daily after his arrest and her parents advised her not to speak to the police. She spoke to Nathan while he was in jail several times. Aina did not go to Denise’s funeral. She claimed to send her sympathies to her family once.
A man also in jail with Nathan during the trial came forward as a witness, saying he had spoken to Nathan on a daily basis for hours. They agreed by handshake not to tell anyone about their conversations. According to the inmate witness, Nathan said that Denise was “overbearing”, that he had met someone else and wanted to move on with his life. Nathan said he did things to cover his tracks. Nathan sent Denise Valentine’s Day gifts. He parked his car at Robinson Park and walked thru the woods to get home. Nathan hid in the closet and waited for Denise to come home, wearing black clothes including a hoodie, then changed his clothes thinking someone caught him walking in to the house prior to the murder. When Denise walked in to the house they exchanged words and he shot her in the head on the left side. Nathan chose Valentine’s Day to murder her, as a present to Aina. At first Nathan thought of using poison with insulin or potassium. Nathan said he went to a car place and a Starbuck’s Coffee so to assist in his alibi. Nathan used the inmate witnesses phone cards to call his parents, then they would call others for him.
The forensic pathologist that conducted the autopsy reported the gunshot wound entered “the back left side of her head” with no close range firing, with at least a distance of eighteen to twenty-four inches apart. There were no defensive wounds.
The forensic scientist for the State Police Crime Lab examined the black hooded sweatshirt recovered from the residence and did not see blood stains, however DNA swabs from the collar determined that Aina’s DNA “could not be excluded from the second minor profile”. Another forensic scientist found gunshot residue to the right cuff of the black sweatshirt and was in close proximity to a firearm “either when it was discharged or contact a primer gunshot residue-related item.”
Scott Rochowitz testified that he worked for the Illinois State Police and spent twentythree and a half years in forensic science. Rochowitz examined the black hooded sweatshirt recovered from defendant’s bedroom for gunshot residue. Rochowitz concluded that the right cuff of the black sweatshirt was in close proximity to a firearm either when it was discharged or contacted a primer gunshot residue-related item.
From Nathan’s laptop, his internet searches created a step by step mind process of his ideas on how to murder his wife.
““Blow to the head,” “Hitting someone over the head to knock them out,” “How easy is it to electrocute oneself,” “How to electrocute,” “How to erase everything from iPad,” “How to erase everything from iPad II,” “How to erase HTC Incredible,” “How to hide the sound of a gunshot,” “How to make GHB [a date rape drug] without distillation,” “How to muffle a gunshot,” “How to silence a Glock 40,” “How to suppress a Glock 40,” “How to suppress the sound of a gunshot,” “Lethal Injection,” “Murder Insulin,” “Nitrogen P3,” “Nondiabetic getting insulin shot,” “Nondiabetic getting insulin SHO,” “Sleep inducing drugs,” “Sleep inducing knockout,” “Suicide by injecting air,” “Suicide insulin,” “Suicide methods,” “Visine knockout,” “What fumes if inhaled can make you pass out,” “Where to buy potassium chloride,” “Where to buy pure potassium chloride in stores,” “Herbal knockout drops,” “How to erase HTC Incredible,” “How to muffle a gunshot,” “Lethal injection,” “Nitrogen P3” “Sleep inducing knockout,” “Where to buy pure potassium chloride,” “How to kill yourself with insulin,” “Bathtub electrocution,” “Does insulin work for suicide,” “How to best shoot yourself,” and “How to cause sleep paralysis,” and “Short-term furnished apartments, Pensacola, FL.”
While there was other damning evidence against Nathan, ultimately, he was found guilty of murder in September 2014, and faced twenty to sixty years in prison. Nathan was sentenced to eighty years.
PEORIA - Denise L. Leuthold, 39, of Peoria passed away Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, at her residence.
Born Feb. 3, 1974, in Dade County, Fla., to Douglas P. and Diane E. (Sailors) Newton, she married Nathan Andrew Leuthold on July 15, 1995, in LaSalle, Ill. He survives.
Also surviving are her parents of Peoria; three children, Seth Leuthold, Julia Leuthold and Jenelle Leuthold, all at home; one sister, Deanna (Clint) Bachmann of Detroit Lake, Minn; her grandparents, Geraldine Sailors, Alice Newton, both of Sterling, Robert and Betty Rauch of Ocala, Fla., and Lillian Smith of Pekin; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. She also leaves her in-laws, Bruce and Catherine Leuthold of Mapleton.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Jack Newton, John Sailors and Virgil and Mae Leuthold.
Denise was a 1992 graduate of Faith Baptist Christian School in Pekin.
Denise was a member of LaMarsh Baptist Church in Mapleton.
She and her husband served as missionaries in Lithuania since 1998.
While Denise enjoyed many things, her greatest joy was that of being a wife and mother.
Her funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 18040 Unsicker Road, Groveland. The Rev. Dr. Steven Hauter will officiate. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Creve Coeur. Burial will be in Maple Ridge Cemetery in Mapleton. The Rev Dr. Keith Thibo and Pastor David Sexton will officiate at the graveside.