Zelch Terminated At Crawford County Sheriff’s Department

As a result of an internal investigation, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department fired deputy Vernon Zelch Monday.

KMOV-TV first reported the firing Wednesday. The Independent News was notified of Zelch’s termination that same day.

Sheriff Darin Layman confirmed Friday Zelch was fired, but could not reveal specifics.

Zelch has been accused by the family of a man who was murdered in April 2016 of interfering with the investigation.

His son, Deacon Zelch, was charged in September with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Edward Hillhouse. Hillhouse had been missing before a Franklin County task force discovered his body on Deacon Zelch’s property in Bourbon.

In November, KMOV-TV interviewed Hillhouse’s sister, Kayla Tolliver, who suspected that Vernon Zelch had interfered.

Zelch denied to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week that he meddled in the case.

An internal investigation was launched and Zelch was placed on administrative leave.

Deacon Zelch is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 20 at the Crawford County Courthouse.

Court documents say a confidential informer told authorities they had information on Hillhouse’s whereabouts.

The informant went to Deacon Zelch’s home on Apr. 27, 2016 and witnessed HIllhouse’s body lying on the couch.

Deacon Zelch allegedly admitted to killing Hillhouse with a single shot to the head. The informant said they returned the next day and noticed a backhoe, which Zelch used to bury the body and couch on the property.

On Sept. 20, authorities received consent to search the property and discovered Hillhouse’s remains.

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