Milan man charged with first-degree murder after wife found dead in apartment

Edward Eli Whitney (Photo courtesy Missouri State Highway Patrol)

A Milan man has been charged with first-degree murder after his wife was found dead in the couple’s apartment with an apparent gunshot wound to her face.

Twenty-year-old Edward James Elijah “Eli” Withey has also been charged with armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse. He is to be held without bond.

A probable cause statement from the Highway Patrol indicates two friends of Withey’s wife, Mattie, went to the apartment in the 300 block of North State Street on Friday after not being able to contact her for some time. The friends entered a bedroom and allegedly discovered Mattie’s body on the floor in the doorway between the bedroom and an attached bathroom.

Milan Police Chief Gail Hayes took Eli Withey into custody at Smithfield Foods. Upon his arrest, officers observed three red stains, which appeared to be blood, on the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing.

During the execution of a search warrant of the apartment, officers found a .22 caliber Savage rifle located in the same bedroom. Mattie was found between a foam mattress pad and the mattress. Law enforcement also found a half-pint Ball jar with ammunition in the top drawer of a gray dresser.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday at the Missouri State Medical Examiner’s Office in Columbia.