Hearing held in local murder case

Thursday, December 8, 2005

The preliminary hearing for a man accused of killing a Shell Knob resident began this morning in Barry County Associate Circuit Court.

Dennis Ray Bisher, 37, has been incarcerated in the Barry County Jail since his arrest on July 6. He is being held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

Bisher is charged with first degree murder, armed criminal action and felony stealing in connection with the death of 65-year-old William Nance.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, Bisher struck Nance in the head with a hammer while Nance was lying in bed. Bisher then shot his victim once in the head with a .380-caliber handgun.

The murder weapons were recovered by law enforcement officers at the scene of a vehicle fire on Highway 39 near Jenkins. The burned out vehicle was discovered by a Highway Patrol officer the night Nance was killed.

Authorities believe Bisher placed Nance's dead body in the trunk of the man's own car in an attempt to dispose of the body. Apparently, Bisher crashed the Lincoln Towncar along the highway near Jenkins and then attempted to burn the vehicle to hide his crime.

From there, Bisher allegedly travelled back to Shell Knob where he stole a pickup truck owned by his fiance and returned to the crash site to retrieve Nance's body, which was eventually discovered in southeast Missouri. Bisher was apprehended in Hollister on the night of July 5, the day after the murder occurred.

During an initial court appearance on July 11, Bisher pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him.

The case against Bisher is being prosecuted by Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox.

Barry County law enforcement officials also arrested Etta Jean Harper, Bisher's fiance, and Naomi Nance, William Nance's wife, and charged them with second degree arson in the days following the murder.

The two women are accused of helping Bisher "clean up" after the crime by attempting to burn down the house where all four individuals lived at the time of the murder.

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