Assumption IL, Carter County, Caulfield MO, concurrent sentences, Dennis Woodward, Elisabeth Gunter, guilty plea, Joy Dishneau, Judge David Paul Evans, murder, Naturally Enchanted, plea bargain, reduced charge, robbery, sentence, tampering with a motor vehicle, Van Buren MO
Gunter, represented by public defender Steven Lynxwiler of Poplar Bluff, was allowed to plead guilty to murder two instead of the original murder one charge against her. Gunter testified against her boyfriend Dennis Woodward twice this year after his first trial resulted in a hung jury. The second time around Woodward was found guilty on all four counts including murder one and will be sentenced on Sept 11 before Phelps County Judge William E. Hickle.
Gunter appeared before Howell County Judge David Paul Evans, who approved the package that will allow Gunter to serve concurrent sentences for her part in the home invasion/murder/robbery of Dishneau, who was Gunter’s former employer/business associate. Gunter had been given a change of venue to Carter County but remained in the 37th Judicial Circuit.
Gunter pled guilty to the robbery and tampering with an auto vehicle charges before Judge Evans on Monday. She received a 15-year sentence for the robbery and a five-year sentence for the theft of Dishneau’s Jeep Liberty. The charge of armed criminal action was dropped. Both sentences will be served concurrently with the murder two sentence and that means Gunter could be back on the street with 70 per cent of her sentence served. Testifying at Woodward’s first trial, Gunter told the jury she was just trying to get some justice for Joy.
Gunter and Woodward went to Dishneau’s home/Naturally Enchanted shop in Caulfield, Mo., early New Year’s Day, 2012, broke into the back door and stabbed Dishneau to death with a sharpened letter opener. The pair drove to the Caulfield location in Gunter’s Jeep, used rubber gloves, and initially tried to make it look like Dishneau had committed suicide.
Gunter had run a branch of Naturally Enchanted for Dishneau in Assumption, Ill, which Dishneau had recently shut down, and Gunter was contesting ownership of the property with Dishneau. Dishneau ran a string of head shops that sold synthetic marijuana when it was legal in Missouri and Illinois. She had two shops in Missouri, one in West Plains and the second in Caulfield. Just prior to her death she had closed the West Plains store.
When she was arrested, Gunter had possession of the murder weapon, a camera, the big screen TV and computer stolen from Dishneau. Also stolen from Dishneau were money orders which she and Woodward used to buy vehicles and Woodward deposited in his bank account. Gunter, who was arrested in Assumption, and interrogated there is reported to have cooperated with police and participated in a taped phone call to Woodward to discuss the stolen goods.
The couple lived together in Norwood Mo., when the murder took place. Joy Dishneau was known to have kept large amounts of cash, and Woodward and Gunter failed to find it, although Dishneau was found with her pants pockets turned inside out, lying in a pool of blood. The stash was not found by the murderers or the police, but was reported to have been discovered in plain view by Dishneau’s relatives.