KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kentwood man stood before a judge and his wife’s family in court Monday and admitted to strangling her to death.

During a six-minute hearing, Richard Guichelaar pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and assault of a pregnant individual.

Asked if he was pleading guilty because he is, Guichelaar told the judge, “Yes, your honor.”

Richard Guichelaar pleads guilty to murder in the death of his wife Amber Guichelaar. (Feb. 21, 2022)
Richard Guichelaar pleads guilty to murder in the death of his wife Amber Guichelaar. (Feb. 21, 2022)

“…Did you strangle your wife and kill her?” the judge asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Guichelaar replied, choking back tears.

“And that was intentional, is that correct?” the judge said.

“Yes, your honor,” Guichelaar said.

“And you knew that she was pregnant at the time, is that correct?” the judge continued.

“I did, your honor,” Guichelaar said.

His wife Amber Guichelaar, 32, died Nov. 16, 2020, at the couple’s home on Andrew Street SE in the area of Kalamazoo Avenue and 52nd Street.

Court documents said that when her husband called 911, he said he found her dead in their bed. After her cause of death was ruled asphyxiation by strangulation, detectives determined Guichelaar was the only person in the house at the time who could have inflicted the injuries.

There was no mention in court of a motive.


Amber Guichelaar, a teacher, was pregnant with her third child when she died. She was also three days shy of her 33rd birthday.

Her friend, Megan Deaton, told News 8 while Amber Guichelaar cared most deeply about her two girls, she was also a dear friend to all.  

“She was a perfect person, the best friend anyone could ever ask for, selfless, kind, she cared about everyone … (but) what she cared about most were her girls,” Deaton said.

Her parents said she loved her family and was passionate about her Christian faith.

An undated photo of Richard James Guichelaar and Amber Guichelaar.
An undated photo of Richard James Guichelaar and Amber Guichelaar.

“Amber loved her Lord and savior number one and her family. She feared no evil. She couldn’t get enough of each. She was bold in pursuing both,” her father David DeGraaf texted News 8.

“We love her and we miss her and it’s a void, but our God is faithful,” mother Amy DeGraaf said after sentencing. “His will will be done and it’s in his hands. And we’re sorry for both families because we did love our son-in-law.”

She hugged Richard Guichelaar’s father George Guichelaar outside the courtroom.

“I am sorry, George, that I don’t know why that happened. It’s so senseless,” she said.

“I’m sorry for your loss, really,” she added. “God be with you.”

“We’re all just broken by this. We’re just broken by this,” a tearful George Guichelaar told News 8. “We just can’t begin to think how this could have happened. And we all just live in God’s grace. That’s all we can live in. We have to live in God’s grace.”

George Guichelaar used to be the principal at South Christian High School, where his daughter-in-law taught Spanish for a time.

Richard Guichelaar’s court case was slowed because of the pandemic. Under the terms of a plea agreement, he faces between 20 years, 10 months and 33 years, 4 months in prison when he is sentenced on April 21.

*Correction: Due to a typo, a previous version of this article included an incorrect date for Amber Guichelaar’s death. She died Nov. 16, 2020. We regret the error, which has been fixed.

—News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.