‘Family Feud’ contestant sentenced to life for murder of estranged wife

QUINCY, Ill. — A man who joked about regretting his marriage on an episode of “Family Feud” three years ago was sentenced to three life terms in an Illinois court on Friday for the murder of his estranged wife.

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Timothy W. Bliefnick, 40, was convicted in May of first-degree murder and home invasion in the Feb. 23 attack of Rebecca Bliefnick, 41, in Quincy. On Friday, Judge Robert Adrian sentenced Bliefnick to three life sentences -- two for his convictions for first-degree murder, and one for a home invasion conviction, KHQA-TV reported.

Because he was sentenced to “natural life” in prison, Bliefnick will have no opportunity for parole, according to Deadline. Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011 through legislation, NBC News reported.

“Mr. Bliefnick, you researched this murder, you planned this murder, you practiced this murder, you broke into her house and you shot her,” Adrian said during the sentencing phase of the trial, according to WGEM-TV. “Some of those shots were fired while she was laying on the ground and you did all of that while your children were upstairs at your house, laying snug in their beds.”

Rebecca Bliefnick, a mother of three boys, was believed to have been shot about 14 times, after entering the place she was living with a crowbar, according to court records.

Prosecutors claimed that Timothy Bliefnick conducted multiple internet searches around the time Rebecca Bliefnick was murdered, including how to use a crowbar in order to open a locked door, KHQA reported. He was arrested on March 13, according to the television station.

Timothy Bliefnick, along with some family members were on an episode of “Family Feud” that aired in 2020, according to People.

“What’s the biggest mistake you made at your wedding?” game show host Steve Harvey asked Bliefnick, according to WLS.

“Honey, I love you, but said ‘I do.’ Not my mistake -- I love my wife,” Bliefnick said.

The couple had been married for 14 years, WGEM reported. Timothy Bliefnick filed for divorce in January 2021, and a hearing in that matter had been scheduled the week after the murder.

Defense attorney Casey Schnack asked the court for leniency as Timothy Bliefnick was fully educated, fully employed at one point and had no previous criminal record, according to KHQA.

“We deal sometimes with some of the worst aspects of humanity,” Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones said while asking the court for the maximum sentence, according to the Herald & Review. “This wasn’t a bar fight. Hell, your honor, this wasn’t a fight at all. This was a person who stalked his victim for days. He practiced.”

The court heard several victim impact statements before the sentence was announced, WGEM reported.

“You replaced their mother’s love with emotional scars and trauma,” Bernie Postle, the mother of Rebecca Bliefnick, told the defendant.

The victim’s brother-in-law, Brett Reilly, directed his comments toward the welfare and impact of the murder of the couple’s three children, according to the television station.

“Did you think about 12-year-old Deacon as you broke through his window?” Reilly said. “Did you think about 10-year-old Grayson as you charged down his hallway, chasing his defenseless mommy en route to slaughter his entire world?”

Chris Shultz, the cousin of the victim, also gave an impact statement, KHQA reported.

“Our lives are forever altered, scarred by the knowledge that someone we cherish was taken from us so violently and senselessly,” Shultz said. “We’ll never again hear her infectious laughter, embrace her in the moments of joy or watch her thrive in the personal and professional role she was born to fill.”