BOONE COUNTY — The husband of a Lebanon woman reported missing has been arrested and preliminarily charged with her murder after her body was found in a creek early Saturday morning.
The Boone County Sheriff's Office says Elizabeth “Nikki” Wilhoite, 41, was reported missing Friday after a coworker called deputies and said she didn't show up to work.
K-9 bloodhounds and deputies searched for several hours but Wilhoite was not found.
Indiana State Police joined the investigation due to a potential conflict of interest between the suspect and a county elected official.
"To avoid any conflict of interest, it was decided to contact the Indiana State Police and ask them to lead the investigation and we would assist them. This is another prime example of working with our law enforcement partners to solve a horrendous crime," Sheriff Mike Nielsen said in a news release. "Please keep all families and first responders in your thoughts and prayers.”
ISP Captain and Chief Public Information Officer Ron Galaviz says during an argument, Wilhoite's husband allegedly struck her in the head with a blunt object, causing her to lose consciousness. The husband then placed her into a vehicle and drove to a nearby creek where he dumped her body.
Wilhoite was found partially submerged in the water around 3 a.m. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause and manner of her death.
"[It's] a very difficult situation," Galaviz said. "I can't even begin to imagine, I can't speak for [the family], but I can't imagine the level of grief they're feeling right now."
Her husband was arrested but WRTV is not naming him because formal charges have not been filed. Any charges will be determined by the Boone County Prosecutor's Office.
"Although this may be a resolution to a degree for an investigation, it's just the beginning of a journey for that family, their friends and their community at large," Galaviz said.
The BCSO says the investigation is ongoing.
WRTV Reporters Kayla Molander and Nikki DeMentri contributed to this report.