Man Sentenced for Gruesome Hatchet Murder and Backyard Burial of Woman

Milton, FL – A chilling narrative of murder unfolded in a Florida courtroom as Johnny Edwards Malisham, 62, received a 25-year prison sentence for the 2021 killing of Cynthia Hoover. The Santa Rosa County Circuit Court Judge, Clifton Alan Drake, handed down the sentence following Malisham’s guilty plea to second-degree murder and illegal firearm possession. The conviction brings closure to a case that began with the mysterious disappearance of Hoover and ended in a horrifying discovery in Malisham’s backyard.

Hoover, initially reported missing in March 2021, became the subject of an intense investigation. Concerns grew after her abandoned car was discovered along the interstate. According to family members, Hoover’s regular communication had ceased weeks earlier, sparking alarm and a widespread search. The case took a dark turn when an informant revealed to authorities in Butler County, Alabama, that Malisham had struck Hoover with a hatchet, leading to her death, and subsequently buried her body under a burn pit in his backyard.

The informant’s testimony was corroborated by a neighbor who recounted the grim events. She described being coerced into acting as a lookout while Malisham disposed of Hoover’s body. The neighbor reported hearing disturbing noises as Hoover’s body was dragged and ultimately concealed beneath the burn pit. Further details revealed by the neighbor and search warrant findings painted a gruesome picture of the crime scene, indicating a brutal assault that ended Hoover’s life.

Intriguingly, Malisham initially deflected during police questioning, denying involvement and withholding the name of an alleged alternate perpetrator. His reticence extended to the point of refusing to confess even when directly confronted about taking responsibility for the murder. However, evidence, including blood spatter consistent with blunt force trauma and the cadaver dogs’ alert to human remains beneath the burn pit, left little doubt of his guilt.

Investigators also discovered a 20-gauge Maverick shotgun in Malisham’s home, leading to his conviction on the firearm charge. The extensive investigation, spanning multiple states and involving various law enforcement agencies, underscores the complexities of solving such heinous crimes.

The sentencing not only punishes Malisham for his egregious actions but also serves as a grim reminder of the brutal realities of some criminal acts. As the community grapples with the aftermath of this tragedy, the case highlights the importance of vigilance, community involvement, and the relentless pursuit of justice by law enforcement.