The estranged husband of Rebecca “Becky” Postle Bliefnick, an Illinois nurse and mother, was convicted of her murder by a jury on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Timothy “Tim” Bliefnick, 40, rode a bicycle to her house, shimmied up to a second-floor window, forced his way in using a crowbar, chased her to the bathroom and shot her 14 times on the night of Feb. 23, 2022. Becky’s father, William Postle, found her body.
The jury in Adams County deliberated less than a day before finding Tim Bliefnick guilty of first-degree murder and home invasion. The trial lasted seven days.
In a now-infamous appearance on “Family Feud” in 2020, Tim joked about regretting his marriage, telling host Steve Harvey that the “biggest mistake” he made at his wedding was saying “I do.”
In 2021, the couple filed for divorce, which became acrimonious due to disputes about custody arrangements for their three sons, financial support and protective orders.
In a GoFundMe post, Becky’s family promised to “lovingly support and care for the boys for the rest of their lives in the ways we know Becky would want” and said, “Despite the circumstances of her death, she is remembered for the life she cherished — a life of compassion, generosity, faith, and fierce love for her family.”
“It was no surprise when she chose a career in nursing — her true calling — where she was able to provide care and comfort to people on a daily basis,” her family said.
In closing arguments in the murder case, prosecutor Josh Jones said that authorities and her divorce attorneys had failed Becky when she repeatedly asked for help, telling them she was afraid Tim would hurt her or take their kids. A number of friends testified that Becky had told them Tim was becoming more “vengeful and unpredictable,” Jones recounted in closing arguments.
“If something ever happens to me, please make sure the number one person of interest is Tim, as that is who would do something to me,” Becky texted her sister, Sarah Reilly, according to Reilly’s testimony.
In another text to a childhood friend, Nicole Bateman, Becky wrote, “I am scared of his behavior and constant lies… on top of that he has our guns and ammunition,” Bateman testified.
On Friday, Quincy Police Department Detective Eric Cowick testified that he found a history of Google searches on Tim’s laptop that included “How to open my door with a crowbar,” “How to make a homemade pistol silencer,” “Can you wash off gunpowder residue” and “What is the average Quincy police department response time.”
Eight shell casings found at the crime scene were fired from the same gun as 27 shell casings police found at Tim Bliefnick’s house, Illinois State Police forensics expert Vickie Reels testified Tuesday. The gun hasn’t been found.
Quincy Police Detective Nick Eddy testified about surveillance video that showed a person riding a bike near Becky Bliefnick’s house after midnight on Feb. 23, the night she was killed, and on two previous occasions, on Feb. 14 and Feb. 21, pointing to the fact that Tim’s cellphone, laptop internet and fitness tracker were inactive during these times. Cowick said Tim had used a Facebook account with the name “John Smith” to buy a bicycle on Marketplace that was found abandoned half a mile from Tim’s house after Becky was killed.
Defense attorney Casey Schnack emphasized that investigators didn’t find DNA, fingerprint, hair or fiber evidence that could link Tim Bliefnick to the crime, that they didn’t find a weapon and that the ballistics evidence was not necessarily reliable. She added that investigators couldn’t confirm when the Google searches were made and suggested they could’ve happened later out of his curiosity about the investigation.
Jones, the prosecutor, made an analogy to the game show “Wheel of Fortune” in his closing arguments Wednesday to contend that each piece of circumstantial evidence, like the letters that spelled out a phrase on the game show, added up to show that Tim had killed his estranged wife.
Schnack responded again by pointing to a lack of evidence.
“I also think the fact that Mr. Jones wants to turn this [trial] into a game show should tell you what he thinks about his evidence and that it is lacking substance,” she said.
Drawing on a pathologist’s determination that Becky was alive “for at least several minutes” after she was shot, Jones told jurors Wednesday, “He shot her 14 times, one time for every year that they were married, and he left her for dead to slowly bleed to death, unable to move from the waist down, unable to breathe because a bullet pierced her lung.”
When Becky was dying, Jones continued, “she wasn’t thinking, ‘How did I get here?’ She wasn’t thinking, ‘How could my husband do this to me?’ She wasn’t thinking that because she predicted it. She was scared of the defendant. She was scared that he was going to hurt her, that he was going to kill her.”
“We should not have to suffer a life without Becky who was robbed of her life in the most hateful, cowardly and cruel way,” her family said in a statement after the verdict, expressing their “eternal gratitude for the tenacity, professionalism and compassion” shown by the police, prosecutors and jury.
“The judicial process cannot bring her back nor can it heal our wounds,” the family said, “but we are relieved that the verdict delivers justice, and we are thankful for all who made it a reality.”
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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.