What Happened to Aina Dobilaite?

March 17, 2024

When a former Christian missionary and married father of three murdered his wife, Denise, on Valentine’s Day 2013 in Peoria, Illinois, prosecutors quickly zeroed in on a young Lithuanian exchange student named Aina Dobilaite. The Leutholds got her from her home country when she was just six years old and took her under their wing, sponsoring her education and taking her on expensive trips to Europe.

As investigators began to dig into Aina’s relationship with the Leutholds they found love letters between them, emails, and a receipt for a hotel room that was booked under Aina’s name. They also discovered that Nathan Leuthold had searched online for ways to kill someone with poison and had bought a gun and ammunition shortly before the murder. Prosecutors argued that Leuthold killed his wife and staged the break-in at their in-law’s house to be with Aina.

Dobilaite denied having a romantic relationship with Nathan and testified that she only helped him out of compassion and never slept with him. She also claimed that she never knew about his plans to kill his wife and stage the crime.

Her testimony came after a great deal of legal wrangling over her immunity from being held in contempt for anything she said while on the stand. Dobilaite looked like a virtuous, straight-arrow college student and she was unflappable when asked questions about her affair with the married pastor. Despite her claims that she was a devoted daughter and friend, the evidence against Nathan was so strong that he was convicted in just 90 minutes of first-degree murder and is now serving 80 years in prison.

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