Covering Kentucky

Feb 13, 2014 12:03 PM

Woman Convicted In Family Murder Plot Found Dead In Prison

A woman who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for plotting the murder of her family nearly 20 years ago, was found dead in her cell Wednesday morning.

Meg Wellnitz Appleton was found dead by prison guards in her cell at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Pee Wee Valley, Wednesday shortly before 7 a.m.

The Shelby County Coroner said Thursday afternoon the death was a "suicide, [with] self inflicted wounds." And that Appleton had one injury to her arm.

The coroner said the death is still an "open investigation" with Kentucky State Police.

The former UK student pleaded guilty in 2005 to plotting the murders of her stepfather Joseph Wellnitz, her mother Beth and her brother Dennis, in their Adair County home in 1993.

In a 2008 interview with LEX 18, Appleton said she was forced into a confession.

"I felt like I had no choice. I was getting sent letters everyday about how I was gonna get the death penalty," she said.

For years, 39-year-old William Harry Meece, Appleton's co-defendant and the Lexington man currently on death row for carrying out the murders, has been in contact with LEX 18 through a series of letters and court documents.

In 2005, he sent LEX 18 Meg Appleton's full interview with police, where she discusses why her mother despised Meece, and their plans to inherit her family's farm and collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance money.

Also during the interview, Appleton admits she knew about Meece's plan to kill her family, though she never tried to stop him, never called the police, or told her parents.

In 2003, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

Bill Meece's ex-wife, Regina Meade, said Thursday morning the news of Appleton's death is a bit of a relief that she'll never be released. Meade asked her prayers be passed along for Meg's family, and adds that she hopes Meg found peace in prison.

Meece is awaiting execution for carrying out the crimes.

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