Man accused of murdering ex-wife pleads guilty, sentenced to fifty years
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin and Wheaton Chief of Police James Volpe announced today that a man accused of killing his ex-wife in her home in early February has entered a plea of guilty to First Degree Murder. Lee Leinweber, 56 appeared in Court this morning where he entered his plea in front of Judge Robert Miller. Miller accepted Leinweber’s plea and sentenced him to fifty years in the Illinois Department of Corrections In exchange for his guilty plea, the State’s Attorney’s Office agreed to the fifty-year sentence, to be served at 100%.
On February 4, 2017, at approximately 6:45 p.m., Wheaton police officers responded to a call of a deceased female at 1321 Woodcutter Lane, Unit A, the home of Leinweber’s ex-wife, 56-year-old Erin. Once inside the home, officers discovered Erin deceased. An autopsy conducted by the DuPage County Coroner’s Office revealed that Erin had suffered numerous injuries including multiple stab wounds about the neck, broken ribs and injuries consistent with a beating about her face. Additionally, Erin was found with a garbage bag in her mouth and her head covered by two plastic garbage bags. An investigation led by the Wheaton Police Department revealed that on January 30, 2017, Leinweber was at his ex-wife’s home when a verbal argument between the two turned violent resulting in Leinweber attacking Erin beating her about the face and neck. He then choked her until she fell to the floor and dropped his body onto hers, breaking her ribs. Leinweber then forced a garbage bag into her mouth, placed two plastic garbage bags over her head and repeatedly stabbed her with a kitchen knife he had retrieved from the kitchen. Following the murder, Leinweber stole her money, credit cards and car and fled the scene. On February 5, 2017, Leinweber was found in Ottawa, Illinois, and taken into custody. At the time Leinweber was taken into custody he was in possession of a one-way ticket to Hawaii. He has been held in the DuPage County Jail since that time on a bond of $2 million with 10% to apply.
“Just over one month ago, Erin Leinweber was savagely murdered by her ex-husband, Lee,” Berlin said. “The fact that Mr. Leinweber has taken responsibility in no way diminishes the grief and loss felt by those who loved Erin. His admission to this brutal crime and fifty-year sentence, essentially a life sentence, will not bring her back. With today’s plea and sentence it is my sincerest hope that those who loved Erin will be able to begin the healing process and perhaps take some solace in knowing that the man who murdered Erin will never enjoy a day of freedom again. I would like to thank the Wheaton Police Department for their truly outstanding work in quickly apprehending Mr. Leinweber before he could board that plane.
“We are very pleased with this outcome and extend our sincere sympathy to the friends and family of Erin Leinweber,” Volpe said. “This investigation was the result of an exceptional team effort by Wheaton police detectives and officers, the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force, Assistant States Attorney Timothy Diamond and The Ottawa Police Department. From the moment we discovered this heinous crime no less than 30-40 individuals worked feverishly to locate Lee Leinweber and bring him to justice. The Wheaton Police Department again thanks all who were involved in assisting us with this intense investigation.”