Watch CBS News

Was Becky Bliefnick's killer a shadowy figure seen on a bike before and after her murder?

The Game Show and the Murder
The Game Show and the Murder 41:59

On Feb. 23, 2023, 41-year-old Becky Bliefnick was shot 14 times in the middle of the night inside her Quincy, Illinois, home. When her father went to check on her later that day after he was unable to reach her, he discovered Becky's lifeless body on the bathroom floor and immediately called 911.

"This was different than any homicide we've ever really had," Adams County State's Attorney Josh Jones told "48 Hours" in this week's report, "The Game Show and the Murder," streaming on Paramount+.

Becky Bliefnick
Becky Bliefnick Sarah Reilly

Becky Bliefnick was a nurse and a mother to three boys who were 12, 10 and 5 years old at the time of her death. "She thought of everybody that was in her life as somebody important," Becky's older sister Sarah Reilly told "48 Hours." "The kids were her world." 

Becky's three sons were not with her on the night of her murder. They were staying with their father and Becky's estranged husband, Tim Bliefnick. The couple was in the middle of a contentious divorce. "What happened to Becky should have never happened. And it just — it still just doesn't feel real," Tim Bliefnick said in an exclusive interview with "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty.

When the police arrived at the crime scene, they quickly determined that Becky's killer had broken into her home by climbing up onto the second story and prying open a window in one of her children's bedrooms. Nothing appeared to be stolen from the house, and Becky's neighbors didn't see or hear anything that night. But investigators did find a partial shoeprint on the carpet near the intruder's point of entry and eight spent 9-millimeter shell casings.

As the detectives canvassed Becky's neighborhood looking for surveillance video, they learned that Becky's next-door neighbors, the Heimanns, had a camera installed on the side of their house. It pointed towards their driveway, which ran alongside Becky's home. And although it didn't capture anything from the night of the murder, the camera did record something unusual about 24 hours earlier. On Feb. 22, 2023, at 1:05 a.m., a person was seen walking down the driveway toward the back of Becky's house. And what appeared to be that same person was seen again on the video, 48 minutes later, walking in the opposite direction. That camera also captured a similar incident about a week earlier on Valentine's Day.

Investigators then uncovered surveillance from another camera nearby that showed a person riding a bike in the direction of Becky's house right before the murder and in the opposite direction right after the murder. And when they looked for more surveillance from that camera, they also found footage of a person on a bike from the night before Becky was killed as well as on Valentine's Day.

After authorities analyzed the recorded times of those videos, they suspected that the person they saw on the bike was the same person seen in the Heimanns' driveway. "Every time you see a person at the Heimann residence, you see a person riding a bike down the road just a few minutes before," Jones told "48 Hours."

Authorities could not tell who was in the surveillance videos because the quality was so poor. The only detail they gathered was a person riding a bike without reflectors on the wheels. Adams County State's Attorney's Office/CBS

But authorities had a problem: they could not tell who was in those videos because the quality was so poor. The only detail they gathered was a person riding a bike without reflectors on the wheels. They needed more leads, and when they spoke to Becky's sister, Sarah Reilly, she pointed them to Tim Bliefnick.

Tim Bliefnick and Becky met when they were students at Quincy University. They began dating two years after they graduated, and eventually, they got married and started a family. Reilly told "48 Hours" her sister was happy with Bliefnick for the first five years of their marriage until something in their relationship changed. "He got progressively … more manipulative and controlling," Reilly said. She also explained that Tim and Becky's marriage became even more strained because Tim didn't support Becky's decision to go back to nursing school. While Bliefnick acknowledged that he wasn't in favor of Becky taking on a career in nursing, he said it was out of concern for her well-being.

In January 2021, after 11 years of marriage, Tim Bliefnick filed for divorce from Becky and things quickly turned ugly between the two of them. Divorce documents revealed that the couple argued over almost everything, including money, their marital home and custody of their kids. In the months after Tim Bliefnick filed for divorce, Becky texted numerous friends that she was fearful of Tim's behavior towards her. "He is becoming more vengeful and unpredictable," Becky wrote in a text to one of her friends.

"48 Hours" investigates: "The Game Show and the Murder" 03:53

But in his sit-down interview, Tim Bliefnick said Becky was the one who was vengeful. And he eventually sought an order of protection against her, which stated Becky "stalked" and "harassed" him. Three months later, Becky filed an order of protection against Bliefnick. In her petition, she alleged Tim Bliefnick "entered her residence without permission." While neither of those orders of protection was granted, a judge did order Tim and Becky to stay away from each other's homes except for when they exchanged their kids.

The Bliefnicks' divorce case was set to go to trial one week after Becky was murdered. And once Becky's sister told investigators about the couple's combative history, Tim Bliefnick became a person of interest. Then, just days after Becky's murder, Quincy police located an abandoned bike without reflectors on the wheels less than half a block away from Tim's house – just like the bike investigators saw in those surveillance videos.

On March 1, 2023, authorities executed a search warrant on Tim Bliefnick's house and car. They seized numerous items, including 54 shell casings and a crowbar that were found in his basement and submitted for testing.

Information was also downloaded from Tim Bliefnick's cellphone and computer. And that's when prosecutors said they discovered that Bliefnick had made more than 200 online searches on his computer for a specific license plate and a car VIN number that belonged to a man whom Becky was dating. The man's truck was parked in Becky's driveway on Valentine's Day and investigators learned that those searches on Tim Bliefnick's computer were made right after a person was caught on surveillance footage in Becky's next-door neighbors' driveway that night.

Investigators also analyzed the information pulled from Tim Bliefnick's cellphone and discovered searches on there that included, "how to open my door with a crowbar," "how to make a homemade pistol silencer," and "how to clean gunpowder off your hands." And according to the prosecutors, there was more. "We found that Mr. Bliefnick had a, what I'll call a burner or fake Facebook account, for the name John Smith," Jones said. He explained that the "John Smith" Facebook account appeared to have been looking at a blue Schwinn bike for sale that had no reflectors on the wheels and resembled the bike that Quincy police found days after Becky was killed.

Tim Bliefnick, convicted of killing estranged wife, explains eyebrow-raising “Family Feud” answer 01:05

Almost two weeks after the search at his home, Tim Bliefnick was arrested and charged with Becky's murder. His arrest made national headlines due to an appearance he made three years prior on an episode of "Family Feud." When asked what the biggest mistake he made at his wedding was, Tim Bliefnick replied, "Honey, I love you, but said, 'I do.'" While his answer drew attention to the case, investigators agreed that it had nothing to do with Becky's murder. "It wasn't said with any malice or — bad intentions. It was supposed to be funny," Bliefnick said.

Tim Bliefnick's defense attorney Casey Schnack pointed to the fact that there was no physical evidence that tied him to the murder. Instead, Schnack believes Becky's death could have been the result of a break-in gone wrong. "There were prowlers in the area, right next door, within a week of—of her being murdered. They're breaking into cars, they're trying to break into houses," Schnack said.

After Tim Bliefnick was arrested, he was ordered held without bond. He invoked his right to a speedy trial, which meant that the prosecutors were required to try the case within 90 days of Bliefnick's arrest. But was there enough evidence to convict him? 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.