By The Examiner staff

Independence police have announced that the suspect arrested in the March 7 death of Charles  Stephens is the victim's wife, Kirstin A. Stephens.

She was arrested Friday in Cass County and has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Charles Stephens, 65, was found dead at their home in the 800 block of South Jones Road.

Court documents say that Kirstin Stephens, 39, called 911 from a neighbor's home shortly after 7 p.m. that Friday to report finding him dead. He had been shot several times.

She told officers she had been out most of the day. However, investigators later found that surveillance cameras at two locations where she claimed to have been did not show her there.  A search of the home revealed a rifle hidden beneath a bathtub, and lab tests confirmed it as the weapon that killed Charles Stephens. The only DNA found on the rifle belonged to Kirstin Stephens, the court statement said.

Investigators found that Kirstin Stephens was a heavy gambler and the couple was in financial distress. Their home had been sold for back taxes in November 2013. The day Stephens died, the new owner had showed up at the home and was given limited access. That person told police he saw someone in bed, covered up. Kirstin Stephens said it was her father.

During the investigation, Kirstin Stephens admitted she was having an affair. People who knew the couple told investigators they had heard her say that her husband was worth more to her dead than alive.

The murder charge is punishable by 10 years to life in prison.