Junction City, KAN. (WIBW) -- A former Fort Riley soldier who strangled his 20-year-old girlfriend to death and dumped her body in a lake will spend the next 13 years in prison.
Christopher Wilaby, 27, originally from Pensacola, Florida, pleaded guilty to intentional second degree murder on May 19th, 2011 in Geary County District Court. He was sentenced to 155 months, roughly 13 years, on July 21st, 2011, closing the six year old case for good.
Echo Wiles went missing from Junction City in 2005. She and Wilaby were dating but at the time, Wiles was married and her husband was deployed. According to Geary County Attorney Steve Opat, there was also some insinuations that Wiles was pregnant with Wilaby's child. He says Wilaby was in the Army and stationed at Fort Riley at the time of her disappearance and was a suspect based on a previous domestic dispute between him and Wiles that was reported to the Junction City Police Department. Opat did not know what Wilaby's job was on Fort Riley. He was questioned but was not arrested or charged.
Five years after she vanished, Wiles' car was found at the bottom of Moon Lake on Fort Riley in April of 2010. Her body was inside.
After her remains were found, Opat says Wilaby was located in Florida and questioned by members of the FBI and the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. Opat says Wilaby ended up confessing to the murder in statements he made to investigators and other inmates while he was incarcerated. At the time of his arrest, Opat says Wilaby had been discharged from the Army.
The county attorney says Wilaby gave authorities several different accounts of how Wiles' death played out and why it happened but ultimately, it stemmed from an argument between the two. Opat says officials are still unsure what the fight was about. But based on his confession, Wilaby strangled Wiles at her Junction City home and not sure if she was dead or not, he put her in her car, drove to Fort Riley and drove the car into the lake, living the next five years as a free man.
At first, Wilaby was charged federally but as federal investigators pieced together his statements, they realized the primary act that lead to Wiles' death happened in Junction City and the case was handed over to the Geary County attorney. As a result of his plea agreement, Wilaby was not charged with premeditated murder, rather, intentional murder in the second degree.
Christopher Wilaby is being held at the El Dorado Correction Facility. His earliest possible release date is May 5, 2022.