Prosecutor: Dying wife IDs Navy recruiter husband as attacker
Villa Park fugitive returns to Illinois; denied bail
In a dying declaration, a pregnant Kristine Gilford identified her U.S. Navy recruiter husband as the one who stabbed her at least 17 times in Villa Park in front of her 4-year-old daughter on the child's birthday, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The disturbing details were made public during 31-year-old Eric Gilford's first court appearance since he returned to Illinois earlier in the day. DuPage Circuit Judge Kathryn Creswell denied bail.
Gilford is charged with first-degree murder and intentional homicide of an unborn child.
Assistant State's Attorney Robert Berlin said police had hunted Gilford since Kristine, 35, was found clinging to life May 26 after suffering multiple stab wounds. The Downers Grove couple married in February and were expecting their first child in October.
Neighbors found Kristine's daughter, Gracie Mae, wandering outside the apartment after the attack as her badly injured mother struggled to breathe. Kristine, who grew up in Arlington Heights and attended high school in Naperville, died a short time later from stab wounds to her chest, back, and arms - but not before she identified her attacker, Berlin said.
"Kristine Gilford did tell police on more than one occasion that it was the defendant who stabbed her," he said. "(Gracie) told the police it was the defendant, whom she identified as 'the bad guy' who hurt her mother and she identified a photo of him."
Gracie also told police Eric Gilford had a knife and a hammer, both of which were located inside the apartment, Berlin said.
He said Kristine left Gilford, and had been staying in the apartment on the 300 block of North Ardmore Avenue in Villa Park with an ex-boyfriend. Eric Gilford used a computerized people finder service to track his wife there, said Berlin, citing the defendant's credit card use. Police also found the ex-boyfriend's address written on a business card, along with a bloody towel, in Gilford's abandoned 2008 Dodge Charger in Fargo, N.D., the prosecutor said. He said Gilford's GPS system also was located in a trash bin 40 to 50 feet away from the car.
Four days before the crime, Kristine Gilford's mother had reported her missing to the Downers Grove Police Department. Officers interviewed the husband.
He acknowledged arguing with Kristine, Berlin said, and Gilford also claimed he "found a note from her indicating she was going to her family's trailer."
But Gilford also posted a Facebook message at that time, accusing his missing wife of staying with her abusive ex-boyfriend, the prosecutor said.
A handcuffed Gilford showed no outward emotion as Berlin detailed the prosecution's evidence. No family members were present in court. Creswell denied bail, finding "the proof is evident and the presumption great" of the defendant's guilt. She also appointed a public defender after Gilford said he likely lacked access to money.
Nearly a dozen police officers closed in on Gilford Aug. 5 while he was eating dessert at the Good Samaritan Mission in Jackson, Wyo. Eric Gilford waived extradition Aug. 12.
He checked into the homeless shelter July 30 under the alias Brian Woolman, a 23-year-old Lisle man whose identity Gilford is accused of stealing from military records. Authorities were led to Gilford after he tried to obtain an identification card at the Wyoming Department of Transportation using the alias, according to Teton County Sheriff's Detective Gary Shaw.
Police later found a birth certificate bearing Woolman's name among Gilford's belongings at the shelter, Shaw said.
"He was apparently attempting to establish a new identity," he said.
Creswell set Gilford's arraignment Sept. 16.