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Amy Mullis longed to escape the hog farm she lived on in rural Iowa. Her husband, Todd, she told friends, might slaughter her at any moment.
Amy, who had been engaged in a secretive affair in the months leading up to her death, said she felt “trapped” on the Delaware County acreage, the Des Moines Register reported. The 39-year-old woman’s friends jokingly called her “POT Wife” — short for “Prisoner of Todd” — and authorities said she hadn’t slept in the same bed as her husband for nearly half a year.
In August 2018, Amy told one friend over the phone that if she turned up missing, to look for “her body in a wooded area” the couple had purchased. Her brother had even begun to store furniture for her, in anticipation of Amy moving out. In the end, she lost her life on the hog farm.
On Nov. 10, the couple’s 13-year-old son discovered his mother “lying in a crouched position” in the doorway of a shed, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. A pitchfork-shaped rake was sticking out of her back.
The woman’s husband, a hog farmer, called it a freak accident. But after police found inconsistencies in his story and interviewed his late wife’s friends — who told detectives the woman was locked in a controlling and abusive marriage — Todd was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
He’s currently on trial in Delaware County for the killing that police say was committed in a jealous rage, as revenge for years of alleged infidelity. Prosecutors said the man gouged his wife with a corn rake in a fit of fury, to prevent her from leaving him and cashing in on a $2 million trust that she was reportedly entitled to if the couple divorced.
“He hoped people would feel sorry for him and not ask for any more questions,” Iowa state prosecutor Maureen Hughes said, according to the New York Daily News.
At the time of her death, the farmer claimed, the family was carrying out their daily chores on the countryside property, when he noticed Amy was experiencing dizzy spells, which he attributed to her recovery from a surgery she had days earlier. Todd told investigators he suggested to his wife that she go lie down. But not long after, the Mullis’ teenage son made the morbid discovery.
Todd told authorities she must have accidentally fallen backward onto the rake and impaled herself, but ultimately police didn’t buy that narrative. An autopsy revealed Amy’s body had six puncture wounds. The corn rake which had killed her, however, only had four tines. The injuries, the medical examiner said, weren’t consistent with falling onto a rake.
Todd admitted the couple’s marriage had been strained by an affair in 2013. He told detectives that when he learned that Amy was cheating on him, he was “devastated,” but said they managed to work through it. He initially referred to her infidelity as a one-time occurrence and told police he never confronted her about an extramarital relationship ever again. He described his relationship with his wife as “good” at the time of her death.
But, during police interviews with a number of Amy’s friends, a starkly different picture emerged of the couple’s marriage, which they said had long been on the verge of collapse. Further, authorities learned Amy had been seeing another man right up until the week of the Iowa woman’s death.
The man, who told police he last saw Amy five days before her death, explained that Amy had long desired leave her husband, but was “scared to death” of him. If he learned of their affair, Amy told him, Todd would “leave or kill her.”
“If he catches me, he might make me disappear,” he recalled Amy telling him, according to the criminal complaint.
A friend of Amy’s also told police Amy had disclosed to her that if Todd learned of her adultery, he’d “kill her and throw her to the pigs.”
In fact, investigators say Todd had suspected the affair. And when the hog farmer allegedly confronted both his wife and the man, they both denied any sexual relationship. Todd, who according to Amy's friends was already known for his domineering behavior, allegedly became even more paranoid, and compulsive. Prosecutors said he began monitoring his wife’s cell phone phone bills, and started to obsessively text her, questioning her whereabouts in an attempt to track her movements. He’d demand, for example, to know when she arrived at and when she left Walmart to pick up groceries.
The killing, prosecutors argued during trial, was also fueled in part by the Iowa pig farmer’s greed.
Todd once allegedly remarked to his wife’s stepmother that he “wasn’t going to lose the farm over” the adulterous fling. And another acquaintance of Amy told police that apart from claiming millions in alimony, she also stood to inherit half of the couple’s farmland should they separate.
“Being a farmer means everything to him," Hughes, the state prosecutor, argued. "He has put his life into that farm. The defendant had to find a way to keep his farm.”
As the evidence stacked against Todd, perhaps most damning were a series of bizarre, grisly Google searches he allegedly performed in the days and months before his wife’s death. Four days before Amy’s suspected murder, authorities say he Googled, “organs in the body” using an iPad that detectives later confiscated.
The Iowa farmer’s internet browsing history became increasingly more disturbing the deeper detectives dug. Months earlier, investigators say Todd had scoured the web using the search term “killing unfaithful women,” and “what happened to cheating spouses in historic Aztec tribes.” In early 2018, he Googled “once you hunt man you will always feel the thirst,” the criminal complaint also stated.
An official at the Delaware County Attorney’s office told Oxygen.com that the trial is expected to wrap up by the end of the week. Mullis could face up to life in prison if convicted.
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