Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Murder has no statute of limitations. A criminal investigation may certainly be continued. Even if it is only a missing person's investigation, law enforcement should be working with her. If that is not the case she should continue speaking to their superiors until it happens.
A wrongful death lawsuit may still be commenced though the general statute of limitations for wrongful death is generally 2 years. There are provisions that toll a statute of limitations particularly where the tortfeasor (the husband) takes steps to conceal the event. Therefore, when and if she is able to determine what happened she still may be able to file a civil lawsuit.
She should consult a local attorney to assist her in the investigation and operate as a liaison and adviser between her and law enforcement.
I am very sorry for the situation.
Please reply if I can help further.
Will you take a moment to define your terms:
"tolling" a statute of limitations
Wrongful death - This is a civil lawsuit that is filed against someone who's actions result in someone's death. It is considered a tort (a civil wrong), and has no effect on any simultaneous criminal wrong (murder) that may also occur. You probably remember the O.J. Simpson case where he was acquitted of the criminal murder charge but was found liable in the wrongful death case. This is primarily because the difference in the burden of proof involved in each case. A criminal case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A civil case need only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (tip of the scale).
Tortfeasor - one who commits a tortious act... such as wrongful death
Tolling of a statute of limitations - there are certain things that can happen which will toll or delay the applicable statute of limitations from expiring. Many instances where tolling comes into account involve the intentional concealing of the actionable claim. For example, if someone were responsible for a wrongful death and then took steps to conceal that death for several years there would be a good argument to "toll" the statute of limitations until the wrongful death was discovered.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).