Man guilty in pregnant wife's murder in Villa Park
A former U.S. Navy recruiter pleaded guilty Friday to repeatedly stabbing his estranged pregnant wife, killing her and her unborn child.
Prosecutors said 32-year-old Eric Gilford of Downers Grove stabbed his wife, Kristine, 16 times on May 26, 2010, in a Villa Park apartment in front of her daughter on the child's fourth birthday.
Kristine, who grew up in Arlington Heights and attended high school in Naperville, died from stab wounds to her chest, back and arms. But the 35-year-old woman survived long enough to twice tell police that Gilford was her attacker. Her daughter also identified Gilford in a photo and named him "the bad guy" armed with a knife and a hammer who hurt her mother.
Gilford pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and a single count of intentional homicide of an unborn child in a deal with prosecutors that puts a cap on his sentence.
When Gilford is sentenced in August, DuPage Circuit Judge Kathryn Creswell can order him to serve 20 to 80 years in prison for first-degree murder and 20 to 60 years for the unborn child homicide. Both prison terms must be served consecutively.
Gilford, dressed in jail garb, showed little emotion as he responded to Creswell's questions during Friday's court appearance.
Kristine's family was present in the courtroom to hear Gilford's guilty plea. Several of them wept during the hearing.
After meeting online, Eric Gilford and Kristine were married and moved in together in February 2010. Kristine was pregnant when she moved out of the couple's Downers Grove home.
Kristine, who was between 18 to 20 weeks pregnant, had been staying in the apartment on the 300 block of North Ardmore Avenue in Villa Park with an ex-boyfriend when the attack occurred.
Gilford used a computerized people-finder service, among other methods, to track his wife to the Villa Park apartment, prosecutors said.
Gilford fled the state after the attack. He was apprehended by authorities last August at a homeless shelter in Jackson, Wyo., where they said he had been living under an alias and trying to establish a new identity. Gilford has been held without bond since his extradition to Illinois.