Update: Man charged with first-degree murder in wife's killing

911 call had been placed from home hours before incident

Posted

A 76-year-old Wapiti man has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the killing of his wife.

Dennis K. Klingbeil is alleged to have shot and killed his wife, 75-year-old Donna M. Klingbeil, at their Wapiti Valley home Sunday night.

Authorities allege that Klingbeil apparently attempted to kill himself after the shooting by taking various medications. From Sunday through midday Thursday, he remained under guard at West Park Hospital as he received medical treatment.

“When he’s released, he’ll go straight to the detention center and [be] booked in,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lance Mathess had said Wednesday afternoon.

Klingbeil was discharged from West Park on Thursday, then arrested  and booked into the Park County Detention Center around 12:30 p.m., sheriff's records indicate.

He's expected to appear in Park County Circuit Court on Friday for an initial appearance on the murder charge, which alleges he killed his wife “purposely and with premeditated malice.”

Dennis Klingbeil allegedly called his son in Florida Sunday night and reported that he had killed Donna Klingbeil.

According to the son’s account of that call to law enforcement, Dennis Klingbeil said he “had shot his wife (Dennis’ wife) in the head and took numerous medications, possibly in an attempt to overdose himself,” Park County Sheriff’s Investigator Phil Johnson wrote in a later request for a warrant to search the couple’s home. “Dennis Klingbeil also requested [his son] immediately come to Wyoming to take care of a dog.”

Deputies and medical personnel were dispatched to the Klingbeil residence shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.

Sheriff Scott Steward — who lives not far from the home — joined Deputy J.J. Schwindt in responding to the call; the sheriff “had to break out a patio window to gain entry into the house,” Johnson wrote. Inside, the officers found Donna Klingbeil “showing minimal signs of life,’ while Dennis Klingbeil was “unresponsive,” Johnson wrote.

Donna Klingbeil was flown to Billings for medical treatment, but she died early Monday morning.

Johnson’s affidavit, written in support of his request for a search warrant, also indicates that one of the Klingbeils called 911 a couple of hours before the killing, around 7:40 p.m. When a dispatcher answered the call, the person on the other end of the line hung up, Johnson said.

A dispatcher called back and reached Donna Klingbeil, who said “she and her husband, Dennis Klingbeil, were working on a legal trust document,” Johnson wrote.

The woman’s speech was noticeably slurred, according to the affidavit, and she told the dispatcher that both she and her husband were drinking alcohol.

“Dispatch heard Donna Klingbeil ask Dennis Klingbeil if everything was fine. He responded yes,” Johnson wrote. “Donna Klingbeil told dispatch that she would call again if they needed a law enforcement response.”

It was roughly two hours later, at 9:51 p.m., that Klingbeil’s son called from Florida and asked the Sheriff’s Office to respond to the home.

In their search of the residence, the Sheriff’s Office seized numerous items of possible evidence, including miscellaneous pills, bottles containing sleeping pills and painkillers, an iPhone, a laptop, a Taurus .38 special revolver and trust paperwork.

Public property records show that the Klingbeils owned their Wapiti home through a trust — a trust that also holds several apartment complexes and other rental properties in Cody. A trust with that same name, Klingbeil Trust No. 1, is also listed as owning properties in Florida, where the couple spent some of their time.

The Klingbeils’ time in Park County dates back decades, with no previous record of any criminal activity.

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