5 shocking details about Jill and Tom Estes' murders
See No Evil will chronicle the June 2008 murder case of Jill and Tom Estes, who were killed by now-convicted spree killer Nicholas Sheley, in an upcoming episode on Friday, January 27, 2023, at 7 pm ET on ID. The episode's official synopsis states:
"Tom and Jill Estes' bodies are found behind a dumpster in Festus, Mo.; police are baffled until a receipt leads to CCTV footage of a blood-stained suspect; a trail of bodies reveals a killer who must be stopped before he strikes again."
The Estes were the final victims of the notorious Sheley, who murdered the Arkansas couple outside a hotel in Festus, Missouri, on June 29, 2008. The following day, their bodies were found near a gas station about one and a half miles away from the murder location. Prior to this, Sheley was also connected to six other killings in Illinois.
In 2017, he pleaded guilty in connection to the couple's killing to avoid the death penalty, settling for two life sentences without the possibility of parole while he was already serving six life sentences for the six unrelated killings.
As such, this article will further discuss a few key details from Jill and Tom Estes' murders.
Jill and Tom Estes' murders: Five quick facts to know about the Arkansas couple's murder by spree killer Nicholas Sheley
1) Jill and Tom Estes were murdered while visiting Missouri
Jill and Tom Estes, an Arkansas couple in their 50s and parents of two, were staying at a Festus, Missouri, hotel while attending a graduation party in the Missouri city in June 2008 when they were murdered.
The couple was reportedly traveling with their two dogs. However, they soon became the victims of a brutal crime motivated by anger, drugs, and a killing spree.
2) They were attacked outside the Festus hotel, but their bodies were found elsewhere
According to reports, Jill and Tom Estes were attacked by Nicholas Sheley while getting out of their car outside the hotel they were staying in. Their unattended dogs were spotted in the hotel parking lot covered in blood after, which prompted others to report the incident to authorities. However, when nothing suspicious was found in their room, the search for the missing pair was extended.
Police had to trace a bloody trail of one-and-a-half mile until they finally found the Estes' bodies behind a local gas station.
3) Jill and Tom Estes died of blunt force injuries to the head
Authorities concluded that Jill and Tom were murdered at a different location - the hotel parking lot - before being disposed of near the gas station. According to their autopsy report, the two died from blunt force trauma to the head, likely from being struck repeatedly with a tire iron.
4) Nicholas Sheley was connected to the couple's killing based on DNA evidence
At the time of Jill and Tom Estes' murders, investigators were hunting down Nicholas Sheley, who was wanted in Illinois for six unrelated murders after his DNA was recovered at the crime scenes. While Sheley was still missing, forensics were able to collect a foreign DNA sample from the area where the couple's bodies were found that matched Sheley's.
Moreover, CCTV footage from in and around the area supported the theory. Thus began a nationwide manhunt, leading to his arrest at a bar in Granite City, Illinois, which was only possible based on tip-offs.
5) Years later, Sheley pleaded guilty to the murders of Jill and Tom Estes
Nicholas Sheley was convicted in six Illinois killings before being extradited to Missouri to be tried for the Estes' murders in 2015. However, dates for the trial got delayed and he ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and a few other related charges to avoid the death penalty.
Sheley, who was already serving six life sentences with additional years at the time, received two more life sentences without the possibility of parole. He is currently serving time at the Lawrence Correctional Center in Sumner, Illinois.