Oof, for fans of the show, this is going to be tough news to swallow…
Jeffrey McWilliams was a Restaurant Impossible success story. But authorities believe he is also a killer — and has been one the entire time America has known him.
For those who don’t know the longrunning Food Network show, it follows chef Robert Irvine as he visits failing restaurants and tries to find ways to fix whatever’s holding them back — be it menu, staff, etc. The show even pays to refurbish locations to give the small businesses their best shot.
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Columbia, Missouri’s McLanks was one of the show’s projects in a July 2019 episode. The restaurant was founded by Jeffrey, his mother, and his four siblings and specializes in “American comfort food.” Though they’ve struggled to stay afloat, the boost the show gave them seemed to work. Irvine even appeared in a video giving Jeff his blessing, calling his meals “the best food” they’d had on the show. The restaurant was so popular it also appeared on the 2020 special miniseries Restaurant Impossible: Back In Business, in which the show visited eateries figuring out how to stay open during the lean months of the pandemic.
But all that time — in fact, the entire time the restaurant existed, as they opened their doors in 2017 — was apparently borrowed time for Jeffrey.
Last Tuesday the reality favorite was arrested and charged for his alleged role in the long unsolved murder of Augustus Roberts, a crime that took place in December 2017 — the very month McLanks opened.
According to authorities, police got a call about a home invasion at around 3:30 A.M. that night. A witness, a 24-year-old woman who lived in the home with Roberts, said she saw three people in ski masks force their way in — and that she heard gunshots as she ran away. Responding officers found Roberts unconscious; he was later pronounced dead on the scene by medics.
In May 2019, the DEA revealed they believed the killing to be a drug robbery — as they had determined about 800 lbs of marijuana had been stolen from a U-Haul truck parked at Roberts’ home. The female witness told police Roberts had told her the truck contained their “entire life savings.” Investigators also found a Ralph Lauren XXXLT-sized pullover nearby that had the victim’s blood on it. But for nearly two years the case stalled…
Apparently a break came in April 2021 when a witness came forward saying he knew who had killed Roberts — two individuals and a third he knew only as “Jeff.” According to court docs, this witness says the trio planned only to commit a robbery but one known only as “DM” screwed up and killed the victim.
Investigators were able to track down Jeff after finding his DNA on the pullover and determining that his cell phone had been in the area at the time of the killing.
Jeff has already been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, and armed criminal action. Seems like a pretty tight case, sadly. And he seemed so nice on the show.
Did he put the money from the robbery into his family’s restaurant? We may find out soon. He’s set to face his first court hearing on Tuesday, May 18.
[Image via McLanks/Facebook/Boone County Sheriffs Office.]