MINOT, N.D.-A 27-year-old former Minot elementary school teacher admitted Thursday that she helped plan the brutal stabbing murder of her husband's ex-wife, but claims she exaggerated what happened to impress her old boyfriend.
Cynthia Louise Wilder entered an Alford plea to Class AA conspiracy to commit murder and Class C felony accomplice to escape on Thursday in district court in Minot. The Alford plea means she disputes some facts of the case but believes she would be found guilty if the case went to trial. She helped her husband Richie Edwin Wilder Jr. plan the murder of his ex-wife, Angila Wilder, in November 2015 and afterwards helped clean up the blood evidence.
Richie Wilder Jr. and his ex-wife had a tumultuous relationship and had fought over custody of their two children, who were staying with Richie Wilder Jr. and Cynthia Wilder at their apartment on the night of the murder. Richie Wilder Jr. was convicted in December 2016 of the murder and is currently serving life without parole.
Cynthia Wilder, a former elementary teacher for the Minot Public Schools, was arrested in May 2017 after she confessed her part in the murder to an old flame, who had gone to police and agreed to record the conversations.
Cynthia Wilder's plea was entered on an open plea basis, which means Judge Stacy Louser will be able to sentence her to anything up to the maximum sentence of life without possibility of parole. Louser ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set a sentencing date for March 29, 2018.
Wilder wanted to enter the Alford plea because she said some of the things she told the ex-romantic partner were exaggerated, according to her attorney Patrick Waters.
"They were exaggerated in an attempt to impress the confidential informant ... she was seeking a relationship with this individual," said Waters.
Cynthia Wilder contacted the man, who hasn't been identified in court, on Facebook in December 2015, after her husband was arrested for the murder, according to statements made at past court hearings. Cynthia Wilder and the man had a relationship of "convenience" at one time and they had never formally dated. She had intermittent contact with the man on Facebook over the next year and a half and made statements about the murder that concerned him.
The man first contacted the Minot police in March 2017. In May 2017, he agreed to come to Minot and to meet with Cynthia Wilder. Police placed a recording device in the confidential informant's car that captured some of his conversations with Cynthia Wilder and he also agreed to record some of his conversations with her on his cell phone
Cynthia Wilder told the man that she had staked out Angila Wilder's residence at night to see what time Angila Wilder's boyfriend left to work the night shift at Walmart. She said she found this exciting.
On the night of the murder, Richie Wilder Jr. told his wife "It's going down tonight" and she knew he was going to murder Angila Wilder.
When he returned home, driving her Honda Pilot, Richie Wilder Jr. took a shower and Cynthia Wilder helped him clean up blood evidence in the car. Richie Wilder Jr. told his wife that "Angila had fought (and) that it got sloppy," an officer testified at a prior hearing.
While they were cleaning up, the two discussed how to get their stories straight for the authorities. Cynthia Wilder told her old friend that she stuck to the story they agreed to, but her husband didn't. After they cleaned up, Richie Wilder Jr. and Cynthia Wilder had sexual relations. She went to sleep and he left to dispose of the bloody clothing and murder weapon. He put the incriminating items in a bag weighted down by a cinder block and tossed it into the river.
Cynthia Wilder told her old flame that the murder weapon was not supposed to be a knife. Richie Wilder Jr. had originally planned to use an untraceable gun, but the gun jammed and he used the knife instead.
She told her old friend that she was proud of her husband for killing Angila Wilder and it needed to be done.
The only other person present in Angila Wilder's home on the night of the murder was her 2-year-old son. The toddler was discovered hours later when his father came home and discovered the back door of his residence had been kicked in. Angila Wilder, who was pregnant, was found lying in a pool of blood on her bedroom floor, with 44 stab wounds.
For a time Cynthia Wilder had temporary guardianship of her two stepchildren, a girl who was 12 and a boy who was 6 at the time of their father's sentencing hearing in May. The children are now living with their maternal grandmother out of state. The grandmother has been appointed their guardian. Judge Gary Lee has forbidden Richie Wilder Jr. from contacting them. The children will be able to decide whether they want contact with him once they are adults. Richie Wilder Jr. and Cynthia Wilder have a 4-year-old daughter together, who has also now effectively lost both of her parents. That child is also living out of state with a relative.