On a clear, sunny day in September 2009, Christine Billis was
driving with her husband Charles in Charleston, Vt., when the car
suddenly swerved into a towering pine tree. Investigators
attributed the crash to a previously undiagnosed medical condition
that they believed caused Christine to black out at the wheel.
Christine, who was belted in, was treated for minor injuries;
Charles, unbelted, was badly injured and pronounced dead on
arrival at the hospital.
Less than a year later, the truth came to light when Christine
registered with an online dating service and began corresponding
with one Kevin Leland. Christine and Kevin were still in the
getting-to-know-you phase, chatting online, when Christine
unburdened herself, allegedly confessing that the wreck had been
no accident. Christine, noting that her husband was unbelted, had
slammed the car deliberately into the tree. The new boyfriend,
understandably perturbed by the fate of his predecessor, donned a
recording device at their first face-to-face meeting, and
Christine repeated her confession. The boyfriend took the tape to
police who began their own investigation, obtaining confirming
confessions at subsequent meetings on police wires. In June 2011,
Christine was arrested for first-degree murder in the killing of
By Christopher Roy - NewportVermontDailyExpress.com
November 4, 2012
NEWPORT – Christine Billis, 45, left the Orleans County
Courthouse in tears after hearing her fate Friday afternoon. In a
plea agreement, Judge Howard VanBenthuysen sentenced Billis to
7-15 years with credit for time served.
Last July, nearly three years after her husband Charles Billis
died in a car crash, she pleaded guilty to an amended charge of
During the investigation, Billis told investigators that
Charles Billis was abusive to her.
VanBenthuysen said, “It would appear that there are some
ambiguities in this case that could render trying the case very
much a gamble for all sides. This is a tragedy for all concerned,
particularly for the relatives and friends of Charles Billis.
Nothing the court can do, unfortunately, will bring him back
The court can send a message to others who want to change a bad
situation in one of the most horrible ways, the judge said. He
said Billis may feel some ambiguity about the situation, but it’s
not an unreasonable response, because it’s providing for a maximum
On July 22, 2009, with the intent of killing herself and her
husband, Christine Billis crashed their car into a tree on Route
5A in West Charleston. Bills, who was wearing her seatbelt
sustained minor injuries. Charles Billis, who was not wearing a
seat belt, died.
At first, it appeared Billis crashed into the tree because of a
Billis might of gotten away with it if she hadn't told an
online friend about what she did. The friend, identified in court
records as a concerned individual (CI), told Detective Sgt. Darren
Annis of the Vermont State Police that Billis admitted she
purposely crashed the car into the tree. The CI provided a digital
recording between himself and Billis where she talked about her
actions and years of abuse from her husband. During the
conversation, CI asked Billis if she was sure she shouldn’t
confess, to which Bills expressed a concern about going to prison.
During a recorded conversation, CI told Billis she was the only
person he knew who had killed someone, to which Billis answered,
“Yeah, it wasn’t easy.” Billis said she was protecting herself and
her children. Billis also told the CI that she had expected to die
in the crash.
On April 25, 2011, Billis told Trooper Annis that she had
ovarian cancer and had had a hysterectomy in June 2009. She said a
lot was going on that year and she had extreme emotional and
mental issues. Billis told Annis that Charles was abusive to her
and at once point she left him, but she returned because he
promised to change.
On the day of the crash, Billis wasn’t feeling well and wanted
to stay home but she had to take Charles, who was legally blind,
to an appointment in Newport. Billis said Charles didn’t look or
feel well, but still wanted to make his appointment. After the
appointment, Billis drove toward the couple’s home, but never made
In a separate conversation, Billis told Annis that Charles was
abusive to her and the children. She said a few times that she and
Charles were mutually abusive to each other, but there were no
Billis said Charles was controlling and would not allow her to
have friends or talk to her oldest daughter or parents on the
telephone. Billis told Annis that she saw the tree and knew it
wouldn’t move when she hit it. At the time, she thought the tree
coming at her was the “most beautiful thing” she saw in her life.
Billis said she started to cry when she realize she didn’t die in
the crash. Billis said she didn’t preplan the crash.
Woman sentenced for killing husband in intentional crash
By Matt Henson - Wcax.com
November 2, 2012
NEWPORT, Vt. - It was almost the perfect crime. For two years
45 year Christine Billis got away with killing her husband. Until
she met Kevin Leland on a dating website.
"She confessed to me she killed her husband," Leland said in an
interview with Matt Henson in July 2011.
The Brownington woman reportedly admitted to him she drove the
family car into a tree on Route 5A in Charleston in September
2009. She wanted to kill her 57 year old husband Charles, claiming
he was controlling, had threatened to kill her, and she couldn't
take the mental and verbal abuse.
"I recorded our conversation on my digital recorder on how she
planned it for months," recalled Leland during the interview.
With his personal recordings, plus ones he helped investigators
obtain, Billis was charged with first degree murder. She faced the
possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison. But
instead, accepted a plea deal for manslaughter and was sentenced
to 7 to 15 years behind bars.
"A gamble for all sides here," said judge Howard VanBenthuysen.
The plea deal came after doubts were raised about Leland's
credibility. He was caught at the border with a gun and drugs. And
there was speculation he was trying to financially benefit from
blogging about the Christine Billis case.
"I think the state had developed some doubt how credible Kevin
would be in front of a jury, so you take the statements by him out
of the mix, the state's case for 1st degree murder has some real
weaknesses," said Billis' lawyer David Sleigh.
Her lawyer was also attempting to get the taped statements
thrown out, citing legal issues with the warrants. But in the end
felt a plea agreement was still in the best interest for Billis.
"From our point of view, anytime you are trying a 1st degree
murder case you are dealing with an incredible risk," Sleigh
During the 20 minute hearing Christine Billis did not apologize
for killing her husband. She just shook her head when the judge
asked if she had anything to say.
Charles Billis' two brothers had little to say as they left the
court, but said they do not support the plea deal.
Kevin Leland was unavailable for comment about this story.
The Billis' two children are now with family.
Christine Billis Meets New
Dude on Dating Web Site Then Confesses to Killing Hubby a Year
By Cory Zurowski - TrueCrimeReport.com
July 26, 2011
On a cloudless autumn day almost two years ago,
Christine and Charles Billis' car rumbled south along Vermont
Route 5A. Christine was driving; Charles rode shotgun, minus his
seatbelt. At the intersection of Line Farm Road, the car veered
hard and struck a giant pine tree...
At the scene not long after the single-car
crash, emergency responders rushed Christine to North County
Hospital, where she was treated for her non-life threatening
injuries. Her groom did not fare so well.
Trapped in the car's mangled wreckage, Charles
had to be extricated. He too was rushed to North County Hospital.
Medical personnel pronounced him dead on arrival.
In the ensuing accident investigation, Vermont
State Police noted the dry weather conditions and eliminated speed
as a crash factor. The investigating trooper in charge of the
inquiry believed Christine suffered a medical episode that may
have caused her to lose control of the wheel.
Only Christine Billis knew what really happened
that sunny fall day. And it was a secret she would keep guarded.
That is, until she introduced herself to the glorious, wild
jungles of Internet dating.
Fast forward to last year -- less than a year
she had been "widowed." Billis was shopping herself on the web
dating site OK Cupid, when she electronically introduced herself
to Kevin Leland.
Over the following weeks, Billis and Leland got
to know each other through phone chats and text messages. The
courtship was still in its nascent stages when Billis told Leland
she wanted to share a secret with him.
"... [S]he confessed to me very remorsefully
that she had killed her husband," said Leland.
The car accident accident was no accident at
all, Billis allegedly told Leland. Knowing her husband wasn't
strapped in, she had purposefully rammed the car straight into the
Blown away by the revelation, yet feeling
obligated to bring the crime to justice's doorstep, Leland agreed
to meet in person with Billis. Again, she offered up a confession
to the murder.
This time Leland was recording the entire
Despite death threats from Billis if he ever
turned her in, Leland went to authorities with the recorded
goodies. Police then obtained a search warrant and armed Leland
with a wire to record more conversations between the two.
Last month Billis was arrested for first-degree
homicide for the September 2009 murder of her husband, Charles.
She is currently being held without bail.
Suspect claims husband's death was failed murder-suicide
June 30, 2011
It's a crime that has shocked the small community of
"They were a nice, normal family," neighbor Lea Whiting said.
For nearly two years the public thought Charles Billis, 57,
died in a tragic car crash just a few hundred feet from the family
home. His wife Christine Billis, 44, went off Route 5A and hit a
"There were a lot of people that knew the Billis and had some
suspicions but there was nothing we could substantiate," Vt. State
Police Sgt. Darren Annis said. "The investigation came to a
But the case was cracked wide open in recent months.
"We discovered some additional evidence that led us to believe
this was not an accidental crash, it was done on purpose by Ms.
Billis," Annis said.
Detectives say that information came from a person who recently
met Christine Billis online and claims she admitted killing her
husband. That person eventually met Billis in person and recorded
conversations. Those tapes were turned over to police. In one of
the recordings Billis said it "took months finding a way they
couldn't prove it."
According to court papers, Billis went on to tell this person
that her husband was controlling and threatened to kill her, she
couldn't take the mental and verbal abuse, and wanted a divorce.
When police confronted her about the taped conversations they say
Billis eventually confessed, saying, "I saw the tree... the crazy
part was that was the most beautiful thing I saw in my life... I
couldn't take it anymore... Not gonna leave him with the kids...
My intent was to kill both of us."
Billis is charged with first-degree murder. She suffered an
anxiety attack just before the hearing, so Vt. Superior Court
Judge Robert Bent wouldn't let her enter a plea.
"I am going to hold her without bail and she is remanded for
evaluation at the State Hospital for competency," the judge said.
The judge also wants Billis to be examined to determine her
sanity at the time of the crash. She has a history of mental
Police wouldn't elaborate on the nature of the relationship
between Billis and the informant, but clearly she trusted this
person because according to court papers, after she was questioned
by police, she told this person, "I'm busted."
Police say fatal car crash was no accident
Smith - Wcax.com
June 28, 2011
A scarred pine tree is the only
sign left that a fatal crash happened in Charleston almost two
The accident happened in Pamela Helenek's front yard. She says
she remembers it vividly.
"I went over to get the mail, because you usually do. I went
and looked at the hole again and thought about how that poor man
died," she explained.
Police say Christine and Charles Billis were traveling south on
Route 5A in Charleston when their car hit a pine tree, less than
one-quarter mile from their home in Brownington.
"It sounded like dynamite going off," said Raymond Helenek.
The Heleneks say they were sitting down for dinner when they
heard the crash.
Pamela Helenek said, "I had no idea what happened. But when I
looked toward the window you could see dust everywhere. That's
when we came out and saw the car over there."
Christine Billis, 42, was driving. She sustained minor
injuries, but her husband, Charles Billis, 57, who was in the
passenger seat died. And now police are saying, the crash was no
Originally police believed the accident was caused by a medical
condition, but about one year later the evidence started to point
in a different direction.
Vermont State Police Sgt. Darren Annis said, "There is nothing
at the crime scene that would point directly that it was
intentional, but there is evidence at the crime scene that would
corroborate that it was intentional. For example; the scene was a
straightaway, the weather at the time was clear and sunny, roads
were dry, daylight hours, no brake marks on the pavement. Stuff
like that kind of made it suspicious"
State Police say tips and witness testimony lead them to the
arrest Tuesday. Annis said Ballis did not resist arrest. She is
due in Orleans County Court Thursday.
STATE OF VERMONT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
VERMONT STATE POLICE
Arrest Related to 2009 Crash Fatality in Charleston
Charleston, VT - 6/28/2011 - On September 22, 2009
at approximately 4:16PM, Vermont State troopers investigated a
single vehicle crash that occurred at the intersection of Line
Farm Road and VT Route 5A in Charleston, Vermont. Several fire and
rescue agencies were called to the scene. The driver, Christine
Billis age 42 of Brownington, sustained injuries and was
transported to North Country Hospital. The passenger, Charles
Billis age 57 of Brownington, Christine's husband, was trapped in
the vehicle and had to be extricated. Charles Billis was also
transported to North Country Hospital, where he was pronounced
The initial crash
investigation conducted at the scene by the Vermont State Police
indicated that the Billis' vehicle was traveling south on VT Route
5A when it struck a large pine tree near the intersection of Line
Farm Road. The crash occurred during the day, under clear skies,
and dry road conditions. Speed was not considered a factor by the
investigating trooper; however Charles Billis was not wearing a
seat belt. At the time of the crash it was believed that the
driver may have experienced a medical episode that might have
contributed to the crash.
Recently information became available regarding the investigation
which led police to believe that the crash may not have been
accidental. As a result of the continuing investigation by the
Vermont State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, detectives
determined that the crash was the result of an intentional act by
Christine Billis was arrested for Homicide in the 1st Degree, a
violation of Title 13, Vermont Statutes Annotated Section 2301.
Billis is lodged at the Northern State Correctional Center in
Newport and is being held without bail.