Repost-Happy Valentine’s Day- To Death Do Us Part- The Murder of Denise Leuthold


Happy Valentine’s Day Babe I killed my wife for you.

-Aina Dobilaite

That’s what happened on February 14, 2013, when Minister Nathan Leuthold killed his wife, Denise, in what was suspected as a Valentine’s day gift for his 20-year-old Mistress from Lithuania, Aina.

At around 3:15 pm on Feb 14, 2013, Leuthold made a call to 9–1–1 alleging there was a break-in at his inlaws home in Peoria, Illinois. Leuthold, his wife, Denise, and their three children, Seth 12, Julia, 10 and Jenelle, 4 resided with Denise’s parents. Denise had not been answering her phone or text messages all day. She had not been to pick up Jenelle from daycare and her family began to worry.

Leuthold claimed he was on his way to pick up Jenelle when the daycare called and said Denise still had not shown up but he decided since he was close to home he’d swing by there and check on her first. When he arrived home the garage door was open and there was broken glass on the ground. Leuthold immediately called 9–1–1. He never entered the home to see if anyone was inside or if his wife was okay.

Leuthold stutters when speaking to the 9–1–1 operator when she asks what is happening as if he is searching for what to say. Police arrive and enter the home and find Denise on the floor dead, from a gunshot wound to the head. Nathan told the police he had 3 guns and the .40 caliber Glock was missing which was the same type of gun his wife had been shot with.

There were some rather interesting text messages that took place between him and his mistress Aina that led police to suspect that the two had talked about killing his wife and that Aina knew Leuthold was going to do it and stage a break-in.

Aina and Leuthold met while he and his family were on missionary work in Lithuania. Aina and her mother were heavily involved in the church and Aina helped out with the children often. When they were to return home to the states the Leuthold’s sponsored Aina as an exchange student interested in ministry work and music. Leuthold became obsessed with her and carried on an extended relationship with her. Many of his emails to her were used as evidence in the case the prosecution put forth over a 6 day trial with more than 40 witnesses.

It took only a meager 90 minutes for a jury to return a guilty charge for first-degree murder. Leuthold never took the stand but in his statement to the families he still maintained his innocence and he claimed he would continue to pray that her real killer would be found and brought to justice.

Peoria County Circuit Judge Kevin Lyons offered a gut-wrenching speech before rendering his sentence. “I have to give you credit. You have led a law-abiding life, and for many years, you did good things. But you have poisoned it all,” he began. He went on to tell Leuthold it was shameful for him to have killed her in her parent’s home a place she and her children felt was a “happy place”. “This crime should not be a reflection of the church or the missionary work or the organized religion. It should be a reflection of you,” he said.

Prosecuting States Attorney Jerry Brady called the murder a “Valentine’s Day present” to Dobilaite. It was well-planned, as evidenced by the Internet searches for ways to silence a .40-caliber Glock, the same type of weapon Leuthold owned and the same type used to kill his wife. Brady alleged that Leuthold was a cold-blooded killer who blew his wife’s head off, staged the crime scene and then went on about his day ensuring he was on camera everywhere he went to create an alibi. However, Leuthold’s attorney, Hugh Toner, claimed his client was not the man that the States Attorney was making him out to be.

Toner said his client had no prior criminal record and should get the minimum sentence of 45 years since basically any sentence would be a life term because in the state of Illinois one must serve 100% of any prison term for murder. Toner also claimed there was no proof that Ania and Leuthold had any romantic relationship. Both had denied any type of relationship.

To which Judge Lyons, spat out a loud, “Really?”. A rather unexpected outburst for a judge. Lyons told Leuthold: “You will end your life in a cold and gray and isolated Illinois penitentiary where you will be more of a number than a name. You’ll be leaving this county to become more of a nobody and less of a somebody.” Then he handed down an 80-year sentence.

This is not the only Valentine’s Day murder but it’s certainly one that is disturbing. It’s one thing for a husband to murder his wife and a whole other thing when a man who is supposed to be a Man of God murders his wife in an attempt to impress his young lover in an epic way and prove his utter devotion.

For a super in-depth analysis of Leuthold check out the blog by Ursula Franco, MD, and criminologist at

While this is not a family annihilator as he did not kill his kids we felt it went well with a series we are about to launch on our podcast. We will be covering several family annihilators starting in March so you’ll want to tune in to hear all the crazy stories.

Do you have a favorite case you’d like us to cover? We would love to hear about it in the comments or you can drop us an email with your request at

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