Former Tulsa County Jail detention officer not surprised by Amber Hilberling's death

Posted at 9:18 PM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 22:55:07-04

TULSA -- A former Tulsa County Detention Officer says she's not surprised Amber Hilberling hung herself in prison.

Regina Striplin says she and Hilberling talked and her message was dark. 

"She said, 'I have to live with that, I killed my husband,'" Striplin said. "She said, 'I'm going to have to tell my son someday that I killed his father.'"

RELATED: Medical Examiner says Hilberling's death ruled a suicide | Amber Hilberling handed 25-year sentence

Striplin is a former detention officer at the Tulsa County Jail. She says she interacted frequently with Hilberling. This was before Hilberling was convicted of second degree murder for pushing her husband Joshua to his death.

"She had friends and she also had people that didn't like her," Striplin said. 

Hilberling hung herself Monday night at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Facility. She was serving a 25 year sentence. In 21 years and three months, she could ask for parole. It would be a chance to get out. 

"I think she gave up," Striplin said. "Her appeal didn't go through and I think she gave up and I think she did exactly what she told me she would do. She said she would die trying."

PHOTOS: Evidence photos released in Amber Hilberling case

Hilberling also mentioned death in the interrogation room with her grandmother when she was initially brought in for questioning.

It's a case that's made headlines for years.

"I think the growing prominence of domestic violence and that people recognizing that it is a problem certainly brought people's attention to it and the fact that it was a male a victim made it even more unusual," Wagoner Co. District Attorney Michelle Keely said. 

Keely prosecuted the case. She says it was never going to be easy to win.

"That was one of the reasons for the five year term that we had offered her," she said. 

Now, both Amber and Joshua are gone. Their son will grow up without a mother and father. It's an open wound that will never heal.

"Just because a trial is over, just because somebody is gone, it isn't closure," Keely said. 

We reached out to both families and they declined interviews, but Joshua's family sent us a statement.

"It is with a heavy heart that I write this statement. Our sincere condolences go out to everyone who loved Amber. Had Amber accepted the generous sentence that was offered to you by the DA, she would've been home last year. Whether it was greed, or foolishness that caused her to not accept the deal . The deal would've prevented her from personally suing the apartment building owners? I regret that some people find it necessary to post negative comments on Joshua's memory page, and send ugly private messages. It brings back memories of the pages and pages of derogatory lies posted for months after Josh's death. We are reliving that day, the feelings and thoughts have returned, as if it had just happened. Josh was a good man. He was not perfect. He made many mistakes. But, he always asked for forgiveness and forgave others. He showed kindness to everyone. His life was taken before he could achieve his many goals. This is not a time to dig up hate and contempt. Joshua and Amber are gone from this earth forever. We are left with pain and memories. Our wish for Amber's family is to try to remember the good times you had with Amber. Amber loved her father, Mike Fields and her Missouri family. We are praying for peace for everyone, including Josh's family and friends. Both families have lost a child. There are no winners in either of these horrible events. It is tragic for everyone.”

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