Stephan Dietrich sentenced to life in prison after murdering wife

Stephan Dietrich has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife "Mimi" Seble Dietrich in July 2014. For a year friends and family thought she was missing, when in fact Mimi had been buried in the back yard of her family home.

Seble 'Mimi' Dietrich was remembered as a 'person with a big heart' by family and friends

Guelph police initially treated the 2014 disappearance of Seble "Mimi" Dietrich as suspicious. (Guelph Police Service)

Stephan Dietrich, 46, was sentenced to life in prison by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice on Thursday afternoon. 

Dietrich pleaded guilty to killing his wife Seble "Mimi" Dietrich, who died on July 10, 2014.

Initially, she was reported missing. Police said they were treating her disappearance as suspicious and friends canvassed the streets, handing out flyers hoping someone would have information about what happened or where she went. 

Stephan Dietrich was arrested and charged with first degree murder the following year — June, 2015. 

Mimi is not only my sister but also my friend, my guide and my second mother- Helen Wondimagegnehu
"I have tried so hard to make sense of this situation, but I haven't been able to do so. I never imagined that I would lose my sister with someone she had trusted and loved more than anything," Helen Wondimagegnehu said as she read a victim impact statement at Dietrich's sentencing hearing. 
Helen Wondimagegnehu, Seble Dietrich's sister, stands outside the courthouse at 74 Woolwich St in Guelph. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

"Mimi is not only my sister but also my friend, my guide and my second mother to whom I can go with all my problems in my life," she said.

Wondimagegnehu's was one of 10 victim impact statements Elizabeth Maguire, the assistant crown attorney, provided the judge.

Wearing a grey long sleeve shirt and dark blue jeans, Dietrich sat in the witness box during the sentencing hearing. With a beard and a moustache, he had his long grey hair tied in a half-ponytail.

Approximately 40 people filled the courtroom, many of them Mimi's family and members of the Meheret Evangelical Church in Kitchener, the church she attended. 

 "She was a person with a big heart and a kind, gentle manner ... the other hardest thing for me is knowing the pain and fear that Mimi must have suffered at the time of her murder," said Wondimagegnehu.

A 'deeply spiritual person' 

Denny Aschnaki, a member of the Meheret Evangelical Church who also provided a victim impact statement, said six months prior to her death, Dietrich​ said she wanted to start a charitable organization to help abandoned children in Ethiopia. 

Aschnaki described her as "beloved" and said she was "a prominent figure and the most generous person individual."

"Mimi was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin and most all a God loving deeply spiritual person," he said. 

Aschnaki said Mimi was also an online Ethiopian talk-show host and was "popular" among the community. 

Shifting suspicion

Police said Mimi's remains were ultimately found inside the home she shared with her husband and three children on Vancouver Street in Guelph.

According to court documents, Dietrich got into an argument with his wife in the shed behind the house. He struck her across the head with a shovel. After she fell to the ground, he hit her several more times in the head, causing blunt impact head trauma. 

He buried her in the floor of the shed and poured cement over her body. 

Investigations revealed that prior to killing his wife, Dietrich had been Googling "divorce in Ontario how long does it take partner missing" and had an affair with a Toronto escort. 

After Mimi's murder, Dietrich forged a letter in her name, stating that she had committed adultery and theft so she ran away. He then moved the escort into the family home.

For a year, they thought their mother left because she didn't love them-Elizabeth Maguire, crown attorney

Dietrich lived freely for a year before police arrested him in June 2015. The Crown said he would often "mock" police for being unable to find Seble. 

"She was unceremoniously in the backyard...with her children in the house," Maguire said. "For a year, they thought their mother left because she didn't love them." 

"He had to destroy her reputation," Maguire said. 

Maguire and Dietrich's laywer, Gregory Leslie, proposed a joint submission to the judge, which he accepted.

Dietrich is sentenced to life in prison, and is not eligible to apply for parole until June 2037 at which point he will be 65. Dietrich was also ordered not to communicate with his children and four other members of Mimi's family. 

In his statement to the court, Dietrich said, "There's not much I can say. I'm sorry for whatever happened." 

With files from CBC's Carmen Ponciano