By Brandi Makuski
The next time Jason Sypher might see the sun as a free man, he’ll be 76 years old.
Sypher, 46, on Tuesday, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. Judge Thomas Eagon pronounced the sentence before a courtroom packed with local police officers, and friends and family of Krista Sypher, who was 43-years-old when Jason Sypher murdered her and hid her body.
Jason Sypher was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse on Oct. 23. The eight-man, four-woman jury arrived at its unanimous decision in about 90 minutes.
For hiding a corpse, Jason Sypher was given the maximum penalty of 10 years, which he’ll serve concurrently with his life sentence. He was given credit for 462 days he’s already spent behind bars.
The case was prosecuted by Portage Co. District Attorney Louis Molepske and attorney Annie Jay, a special prosecutor from the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office. It’s one of the few bodyless homicide convictions secured in Wisconsin’s history.
Jay said Jason Sypher deserved life in prison without the possibility of parole—not just for taking Krista’s life, but for his “massive coverup” by creating a narrative that made Krista look like she willingly abandoned her children.
“We’re here because the defendant did it,” Jay said. “The defendant is being sentenced for obliterating the mother of these children from the face of this earth. He is being sentenced for the most serious crime there is.”
Krista Sypher, a Plover resident who worked as an education assistant at McDill Elementary School, went missing March 13, 2017. Jason Sypher waited a full week before reporting her disappearance to the police.
What followed was a massive investigation spanning 18 months and as many as 30 law enforcement officers at one time, according to Plover Police Chief Dan Ault. Several of his officers spent five days search a Wisconsin Rapids landfill for any sign of Krista’s body, but no evidence of her remains was collected.
Jason Sypher, who wore leg and wrist shackles and an orange jail uniform, sat emotionless throughout Tuesday’s hearing and did not react when Eagon pronounced the sentence. When given the chance to make a statement, he spoke in an even tone.
“I would like to say that I do not agree with the results of the trial and the process of it. I continue to maintain my innocence,” Jason Sypher read from a prepared statement. “I did not commit a homicide, I did not hide a corpse. I am 100 percent innocent of these charges. I will be moving forward with my issues. I love my family.”
Krista Sypher’s father, Richard Kellerman, Jr., also spoke during the hearing. He believes Krista is still alive and said his family was disappointed with the trial.
“I feel like my family has been victimized by the court system: [the] right to a speedy trial, not a year and two months; by the state’s attorney, by implying that the only reason I wanted Jason free was for financial reasons; by the treatment of my grandchildren during questioning by the police, refusing to have their lawyer present,” Kellerman said. “As far as I’m concerned, there were too many mistakes made in this case. Too many truths were not brought forth. The only truth that was brought forth by the prosecution was what they wanted the court to hear, period. I still believe my daughter is out there somewhere. I have not seen any evidence to prove otherwise. I do not believe that my son-in-law did anything. I am asking for leniency from the court.”
Eagon said Jason Sypher appeared to be “controlling and highly manipulative,” and agreed with prosecutors that he controlled information about Krista to her family, the couple’s children, and police.
“That’s very concerning, and he’s shown a complete lack of empathy for the children’s need to have the love of their mother, and to know their mother would be there for them, and the children’s need to not feel abandoned by their mother,” Eagon said. “The court is concerned the defendant also used his version of events to interfere with the relationship Krista had with her family. The narrative was one of a wild, out-of-control person. The facts that came out at trial is, that was not the picture of Krista Sypher.”
Krista Sypher brought joy to many people, Eagon said, which he heard in the testimony offered by her friends, acquaintances, and coworkers.
“She was certainly a mother who cared for her children,” he said. “Not only has [Jason Sypher] deprived her of her life, he has deprived of her dignity and respect of her children and her family.”