Man whose wife has been missing 10 years pleads guilty to drug charge

Bill Crider, long a person of suspicion in the case of his missing ex-wife, Joyce, pleaded guilty this week to a drug charge in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

On Monday, Crider pleaded guilty to one count of distributing oxycodone in Wolfe County on March 17, 2009. Another charge, alleging that he used a gun in committing the crime, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

The agreement filed in court doesn't mention anything about the disappearance of his former wife, Joyce Gaines Crider of Lexington. Bill Crider was never charged in the case, nor has Joyce Crider's body been found.

She was last seen on Oct. 27, 2002, when she told a friend she was going to see him at the Holiday Inn on Athens-Boonesboro Road, where he was staying.

The couple had been married less than three years and were divorcing. Joyce Crider's brother, Mike Gaines, has said she had been scheduled to give a deposition in the divorce case two days after her disappearance. Sworn police statements say she intended to implicate Bill Crider in insurance fraud. Her car was found in a Lexington parking lot more than a month after she went missing.

Bill Crider has maintained his innocence, telling a reporter in 2006 that he had proof Joyce Crider was alive. The couple's divorce was finalized in 2003, without Joyce Crider.

On March 17, 2009, a cooperating witness for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration made a recorded telephone call to Bill Crider to arrange a purchase of oxycodone from him. The witness and Crider agreed to meet at Campton Lake Dam in Wolfe County.

DEA agents saw Crider's vehicle pull next to the vehicle of the witness, who got into Crider's vehicle, according to an account in the plea agreement. The witness bought 60 tablets of 40-mg. oxycodone for $2,000 in cash, the agreement says.

Before the sale was finished, Crider showed the witness a Glock .45-caliber pistol and discussed its possible sale, the agreement says. The witness had an additional 15 oxycodone tablets in his possession and discussed a future transaction, the agreement says.

The tablets bought from Crider were sent to a DEA lab and were confirmed to be oxycodone.

The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and supervised release of at least three years, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell scheduled sentencing for Jan. 31 in Lexington.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader