VALPARAISO -- A woman convicted of manipulating her teen-age sons into killing
her husband and mother-in-law wants to be freed from prison after serving less
than 14 years.
Marie Witte, described by a prosecutor as the "coldest" women he ever
encountered in the courtroom, said she should be released because she found
religion behind bars and has earned a college degree.
Witte, 51, is serving two concurrent terms for murder for her roles in the 1981
shooting death of Paul Witte and the 1984 crossbow murder of Elaine Witte,
whose body was dismembered and never located. She is not due to be released
from the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis until Oct. 13, 2028.
Witte's petition for early release was filed in both Porter Superior Court in
Valparaiso and LaPorte Superior Court in Michigan City. In it, she said she has
worked hard at changing herself "so her crimes will never recur."
Through therapy, counseling, education, time and self-introspection, Witte said
she has "overcome the issues in her life which brought her to prison."
While in prison, Witte obtained a 3.8 grade-point average while earning a
bachelor of arts degree, the petition said. She has also completed 500 hours in
family living vocational training and numerous Bible study courses.
William Herrbach, the deputy LaPorte County prosecutor who tried her case, said
she does not deserve to ever be released -- not only because of the murders,
but also for ruining the lives of her sons through her cunning ability to
"For that I don't think there's any forgiveness," Herrbach said.
Witte was shot by his son, Eric, while lying on a sofa in the family's Beverly
Shores home in 1981. Witte told her son that she and her husband were divorcing
and the only way to keep herself and the children "off the streets" was to kill
him, Herrbach said.
Herrbach said that Butch Witte, at the request of his mother, killed Elaine
Witte in the victim's home outside Michigan City. She told her son that Elaine
Witte "was tired of them living with her and was going to kick us out in the
street and we might as well do her in," Herrbach said.
Elaine Witte's body was never recovered. Pieces of what was believed to be hair
were recovered from a garbage disposal in the victim's home, Herrbach said.
Witte and her sons drove to San Diego, Calif., where they claimed to have
disposed of Elaine Witte's torso in a landfill. It was never found.
Herrbach described Witte as "the coldest lady I could ever recall during a
Marie Witte's 60-year prison term for Elaine Witte's murder is not due to
expire until 2028. Greg Scott, a spokesman for the Women's Prison, said she
already has completed a 30-year sentence for attempted murder in that case.
Witte also is serving concurrent, 50-year sentences for murder and attempted
murder, due to expire in 2009, in her husband's case.
Eric Witte was sentenced to 20 years. With credit for good behavior, he was
discharged from the Indiana Department of Correction in September 1996.
Butch Witte was sentenced to 25 years in prison. DOC officials could not
immediately confirm whether he had finished his term.