CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - Clay Waller pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Thursday. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
A press conference was held at 3:30 p.m. to praise law enforcement, prosecutors, and the family. Sheriff John Jordan with the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office called Thursday a "bittersweet ending." Sweet because Clay Waller had to admit to being a murderer in public, and because the family now has Jacque back and can honor her with a proper burial.
Sheriff Jordan went on to say it is bitter because Clay Waller's punishment does not fit his crime. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, while Jacque was sentenced to death, and her family was sentenced to life without Jacque.
Jacque's father, Stan Rawson, held up a picture of Jacque and said how much he, her family, and her triplets love her. He said he cannot brag enough about the prosecutors and law enforcement, and the job they did working the case.
PHOTOS: Clay Waller pleads guilty to murder
Rawson said they were fortunate because from day one they knew who the perpetrator was. He said there was no doubt in their minds Clay Waller was responsible, and knew after 24 hours she was not going to come home alive.
He also praised Jacque's co-workers, calling them a pack of "ravenous wolves," who intended to find Jacque, help the kids, help the family, and help in any other way possible. They wanted to keep the case on the hot burner, and not let anyone rest until she was brought home.
Rawson said until she disappeared, he never thought Clay was capable of murdering Jacque.
"It's my fault she's dead today. We didn't take her seriously. I should have done something to stop it. I honestly didn't think he would do it," Rawson said.
He said Jacque told him Clay would kill her.
"He's not gonna do that," Rawson said responded to her.
Rawson offered to have a talk with Clay, but Jacque discouraged that, saying it would only make the situation worse.
He also thanked the more than 18,000 supporters on the Facebook page Find Jacque S Waller. He said those people were always encouraging, and it feels good to know so many people cared and were behind the family.
"Clay Waller didn't get everything he deserved, but he did deserve everything he got," said Rawson.
During a question and answer portion of the press conference, Lt. David James said at this point they do not believe Clay Waller had any accomplices, though there are still many questions Clay would not answer during his interview on Monday.
Authorities also detailed the location Jacque's body was found. She was found in a channel between Devil's Island and the main bank, just to the southeast of the channel, down river. Her body was buried approximately six feet deep in sand. Investigators and cadaver dogs had been in the area searching for her remains, but she was not found sooner because of the depth of the burial and the sand.
It was confirmed Clay Waller had dug the hole he buried Jacque in the day before he killed her. He told investigators during his interview on Monday he had dug holes on other occasions, but then decided not to kill her.
Waller's motive for the murder was anger and jealousy that Jacque had a new boyfriend. He was upset at the thought of another man raising his children.
Authorities say he lured Jacque to his home June 1, 2011 under false pretenses. He told her their son, Maddox, was at his home and that Jacque needed to pick him up. Maddox was actually at Waller's girlfriend's home.
According to the Facebook page Find Jacque S Waller, visitation will be held Saturday, June 8 at 9 a.m. at Esther Baptist Church. A graveside service will begin at 1 p.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery in Leadington, Mo.