Woman pleads guilty to drowning 8-year-old daughter, hiding body

FRANKLIN COUNTY — After sitting in jail for four years of court hearings and continuances, a 32-year-old Franklin County woman pleaded guilty in court Monday to the 2011 drowning death of her 8-year-old daughter.

Mary Zumwalt Jophlin (Source: FCSO)
Mary Zumwalt Jophlin
(Source: FCSO)

Mary Zumwalt Jophlin pleaded guilty in Franklin County to aggravated battery of a child, involuntary manslaughter, and concealment of a homicidal death.

According to court records, in July 2011, police found her 8-year-old daughter, Alexus N. Smothers,  dead in a basement crawl space of her West Frankfort home. Smothers was discovered after her mother called 911 to report the child missing.

Evidence prosecutors presented in court said Jophlin used her hands, water, another object or a combination of both to kill Alexus Smothers.

Jophlin was sentenced Monday to 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the Class X aggravated battery of a child charge, and must serve 85 percent of that sentence.

She was additionally sentenced to 14 years for involuntary manslaughter. She also was sentenced to 10 years for concealment of a homicidal death that will begin at the conclusion of her 25 year sentence and 14 year sentence.

Jophlin had two other children. The children were taken from her in 2004 and returned in 2005.