Yvonne Layne Murder: Where is Joe Wilkes Now?

Image Credit: Murder in Alliance

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Reasonable Doubt: The Cult of David’ delves into the controversial case of Yvonne Layne’s murder that happened in March 1999. The city of Alliance, Ohio, was the center of this murder investigation, the veracity of which has been questioned by experts over time. The case hinged on testimony from just one person, Joe Wilkes, who claimed to have been hired to kill Yvonne by David Thorne, an ex-boyfriend. So, let’s find out more about this case then, shall we?

How Did Yvonne Layne Die?

Yvonne Lane was 26 years old. The loving mother lived in Alliance with her five children. She was helped sometimes by her mother, Tawnia Layne. On April 1, 1999, Tawnia came by in the morning to take one of her grandchildren, 6-year-old Preston, to school. What she discovered inside the house was truly horrific. She found her daughter dead, lying on the floor in a pool of blood with her throat slit.

Image Credit: The Forensic Criminology Institute

Tawnia rushed to a neighbor’s home to alert the police. There was a lot of blood at the crime scene, and the children were all still in the house when Tawnia found Yvonne. The investigators believed that Yvonne’s throat was cut while facing the glass doors in the room before she was dragged to the living room, where she was found face down. There was a TV on her body, presumably to make it look like there was a struggle, but the TV didn’t cause any injuries. There were bloody marks on a pillow where the murder weapon was wiped off as well.

Who Killed Yvonne Layne?

While the crime scene was extensive, there wasn’t much evidence that the killer left behind. The authorities were able to collect 2 partial bloody footprints, but that was it. There were no fingerprints found at the scene or any other physical evidence that would clue in the authorities on who committed the murder. The detectives then started looking into Yvonne’s life and realized that she had recently filed for child support for one of her children, Brandon. The father was an ex-boyfriend of hers, David Thorne. At the time, the investigators learned that he had fallen behind on these payments.

David was looked at, but he had a rock-solid alibi, quickly moving him down the suspect list. Through further investigation, the authorities learned of a man named Joe Wilkes. A couple, Rose Mohr and Chris Campbell, told police that they talked to Joe at a local mall on March 31, a day before the body was found. According to Rose, Joe told them that he was in Alliance to kill a woman and that a guy hired him. But Chris recalled that Joe said it was Wilkes’ girlfriend who asked him to commit the murder. Joe had also bought a knife at a local store and showed it to them.

In July 1999, the police investigated Joe, who confessed to killing Yvonne. The 18-year-old stated that David didn’t want to pay child support anymore and wanted to gain full custody of Brandon. Joe told the police that David planned the whole thing and offered to pay him $300 to kill Yvonne. Joe added that David was the one who gave him money to buy the knife and gloves.

Joe said that he threw a knife in a storm sewer nearby. The police were able to recover a knife, but it had been wiped, so there was no evidence present that connected anyone to it. He also claimed that after he killed Yvonne on March 31, David picked him up the next morning and took him to a friend’s home. There, he hid his pants in the woods close by but could not tell the police what happened to his shirt or shoes.

Where is Joe Wilkes Now?

Joe agreed to testify against David in a plea deal that would send him to prison for life with the possibility of parole after 30 years. He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder. The trial took place in January 2000, with Joe being the prosecution’s star witness, leading to David’s conviction in relation to the murder. Despite testifying at the trial, Joe later recanted his statements. He remains incarcerated at the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion County, Ohio. Joe will be eligible for parole in 2029.

Read More: Is David Thorne Guilty or Innocent?