By Katie Dahlstrom
On Oct. 23, 2008 Melissa Marburger prayed on a penny for her missing sister Alysia Marburger to come home.
A day later Alysia’s partially nude remains were discovered in a ditch off U.S. 67 in Camanche.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine she’d come home in a body bag,” Melissa said Thursday during the sentencing for the man charged in connection with Alysia’s death. “I still have that penny. I’m not sure if it’s lucky or not. Some might say it is since we were able to lay Alysia to rest while other families never see their missing loved ones again.”
Andy Cole, 48, of Clinton, was sentenced in Clinton County District Court on Thursday to 10 years on one count of voluntary manslaughter and 5 years for assault with intent to commit sexual abuse in the death of Alysia, 27, of Sabula. Those sentences will be served consecutively.
Cole was charged last year with first-degree murder in connection with Marburger’s death, but entered a plea agreement for lesser charges.
On June 12, he entered an Alford plea to the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, a Class D felony.
An Alford plea means the defendant agrees a jury would likely convict during a trial, but it is not an admission of guilt.
Clinton County District Court Judge Marlita Greve ordered Cole to pay $150,000 in restitution to Alysia’s family. Cole’s parole on a 2010 burglary conviction will be served consecutively with his sentences in connection with Alysia’s death.
Once Cole has completed his sentences, he will be on parole for 10 years and have to register as a sex offender. He will also be required to submit a DNA sample for profiling.
Greve said incarceration was an appropriate punishment based on Cole’s past criminal history and his role in Alysia’s death.
“You have been to prison before. You have a criminal record. You don’t have much of a job history and you really haven’t done much with your life to date other than commit crimes. And unfortunately at this point we have a crime where a young woman no longer is alive. She has a daughter who will not know her mother and we have a family that is still hurting and will continue to hurt for a long time.”
The victim’s sister, Linda Milder, said she didn’t feel any sentence could bring Cole to justice when Alysia’s daughter, who was an infant in 2008, will never have firsthand memories of her mother.
“I first want to talk about the memories I have of my sister and the memories he robbed. Twenty-seven short years of life. He can’t do enough time for what he robbed from us, from her daughter. She has no memories of her mom, only the memories we tell her,” Milder told the court.
Alysia was last seen leaving a friend’s apartment with Cole around 2:15 a.m. Oct. 7, 2008.
According to court documents, when questioned by investigators, Cole told them he had left with Alysia and had sex with her in the backseat of her car. Cole said he left her at 4 a.m. and she drove off.
Alysia’s parents filed a missing person’s complaint with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office the next day.
On Oct. 13, 2008, Marburger’s white Hyundia Sonata was found near the 400 block of 10th Avenue South. They keys were not in the car. The screen display half of Alysia’s cell phone was found in the backseat of the car. Her underwear and pants were found in the back under the driver’s seat.
Eleven days later, on Oct. 24, 2008, Alysia’s partially nude remains were found lying in a ditch near the Rock Creek Cabin area off U.S. 67. The key pad portion of her flip phone was found across the road from her body and her purse was found several feet from her in the woods.
The medical examiner conducted an autopsy on Oct. 26 and ruled the cause of death as undetermined, but found the circumstances highly suspicious of foul play.
Melissa said her life has not been the same since the day she learned of her sister’s death.
“I do not wish death upon you as you did with Alysia. That would be an easy out for you. Instead I hope that one day someone beats you within an inch of your life and leaves you paralyzed and unable to speak,” she said.
“God does not forgive people like you. All I can do is ask for his forgiveness when I say may you rot in Hell.”