- Valerie Tieman's body was found wrapped in a blanket in the woods
- Her husband had earlier claimed she died from a heroin overdose
- The jury found the husband guilty of murdering his wife on Monday
It took a search dog only five minutes to discover the body 250 yards down a trail twisting through the woods in Fairfield, Maine. Valerie Tieman - officially missing for 11 days - was found wrapped in an orange, black and white blanket, the Central Maine Morning Sentinel would later report.
Mementos were placed inside the 34-year-old's final resting place. A box of SweeTarts candy. A wedding band. A Mason jar filled with flower stems. An index card scribbled with a note. "To my one and only Joy-Joy," it began. "Flower. Forever."
When investigators lifted the woman from the grave, they discovered a bottle of Gucci fragrance. It was called "Guilty."
On the day of Valerie's discovery - Sept. 20, 2016 - investigators were attempting to pull answers from the missing woman's husband, Luc Tieman. An Iraq War U.S. Army veteran who reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, he maintained he had last seen his wife in a Walmart parking lot days earlier.
"I'm not going to lie to you," an investigator told Tieman in the interview. "Honestly, it doesn't look good."
"I didn't do anything to her," Tieman said. "I didn't do it."
Tieman's story would keep shifting, including at his recent murder trial. Not only did the defendant testify but he delivered his own closing argument.
On Monday, the jury found the husband guilty of murdering his wife, the Bangor Daily News reported. The verdict, for now, closes a bizarre murder case that pivoted on infidelity, drug use and lies.
Valerie Tieman had moved to Maine from Greenville, South Carolina. "She was a southern girl with good southern values," Emily Fournier, a friend, told WMTW. "She was the kind of person you go over to her house she would fix you a cup - green tea, was her favorite."
Deeply religious, Valerie also had an artistic streak, writing poetry and acting in a local Shakespeare company, where she starred in productions of "Macbeth" and "The Comedy of Errors." She had recently landed a part in an upcoming production of "Titus Andronicus" before she vanished.
Fournier told the television station she never saw any strain in the marriage between Valerie and her husband.
"She talked about him like he was the sun and moon," she said. Tieman often referred to Valerie as his "trophy wife," Fournier said.
"I asked him why?" she told the station. "He said, 'because I had a rough life and I turned my life around and turned it over to God and in return, he gave me her and she's my trophy for doing good.'"
Valerie's mother, Sarajean Harmon, last spoke to her daughter on Aug. 10, 2016, from her home in South Carolina, she would later testify, according to the Bangor Daily News. Two weeks later, on Aug. 25, she called to see if her daughter had called her brother on his birthday. Valerie never answered. Luc Tieman later responded with a text message to his mother-in-law that they were "good. Love her so much."
On Sept. 9, Valerie's mother and father reported her missing to police in Maine.
In his initial interviews with police, Tieman said he and his wife had gone to Walmart on Aug. 30. Tieman went inside, and when he returned to his truck, his wife was gone, he claimed. Tieman told investigators his wife had wanted to leave him and was currently addicted to opioids.
The discovery of the body, found in the woods behind Tieman's parents' house, where he had been living with his wife, abruptly changed the husband's story. During his Sept. 20 interview with investigators, Tieman claimed his wife had died from a heroin overdose.
"I watched her put the needle in her arm," Tieman said in the interview, which was recorded and played in court. "She had some heroin, started to shake, and laid down. I carried her, tried to give her a proper burial. I don't remember a whole lot."
But Valerie had not died of an overdose (although two opioids - buprenorphine and tramadol - were found in her system during an autopsy). Valerie had been killed by two gunshot wounds, one to the head and one to the neck. Law enforcement found the murder weapon, a .45-caliber Citadel handgun, inside the Tieman home, the Morning Sentinel reported.
Tieman was arrested the day after his wife's body was found. In November 2016, he entered a not guilty plea. As the defendant left the courthouse, Tieman addressed reporters, according to News Center Maine. "God bless our families," he told the media. "God bless Donald Trump."
As the recent murder trial began, prosecutors laid out a scenario casting Tieman as a liar whose story continuously flipped.
"My wife left me at the Walmart. Oh no, wait," Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea told jurors, WABI reported. "You found her body? She died of a drug overdose. How many stories have we now heard from Luc Tieman?"
In reality, Tieman was desperate to leave his marriage so he could become involved with other women, the state alleged. Shortly after killing his wife on Aug. 25, Tieman immediately began courting, witnesses said. One woman told the jury she ran into Tieman in September 2016 and he told her "I'm newly single," according to the Morning Sentinel.
Another testified she had messaged Valerie on Aug. 24 that her husband was already cheating on her. A third witness admitted she had had sex with Tieman after a pool party on the same day. He moved in with her two days later, after police believe Valerie was already dead.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Tieman again told jurors he had not killed his wife.
He also admitted the wedding band found in his wife's shallow grave appeared to be his own. Prosecutors also played for the jury a cellphone video taken by Tieman inside his car that showed a blanket matching the one his wife's body was wrapped in. The note found on Valerie's body was written in the nicknames the couple had used earlier in their marriage.
In a rare move, the defendant also chose to deliver his closing remarks.
"The state is accusing me of murdering my beautiful wife, Valerie Tieman, which I didn't do," Tieman told the court. "It would have helped if they could show a motive."
Fifty minutes into their deliberations, the jury returned with a guilty verdict.
"We're obviously disappointed," Stephen Smith, Tieman's attorney, said Monday. "There was no forensic evidence. There was no DNA. There were no fingerprints. We're very disappointed in the verdict and we intend to appeal."
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)