On Nov. 25, 2006, Visalia Police Department officers responded to a canal bank east of Akers Road and north of Hillsdale to a report of a possible dead body, police said in a news release. The victim’s body was reportedly found in a shallow grave.
An autopsy later revealed that the body was that of Sonia Hughes, Joseph Hughes’ wife. She had been strangled to death, police said.
Nearly a decade later, in February 2016, the District Attorney’s Office said a family member came forward and said they saw and heard Hughes beating his wife the night she supposedly ran away.
Hughes was formally arrested and charged with his wife’s fatal strangling in October 2017, police said. He was reportedly already in prison for robbery and felony vandalism.
Hughes was found guilty of second-degree murder on Nov. 18, and on Dec. 16, the District Attorney’s Office announced that he was sentenced to life in prison.