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Sex Offender Charged With Girl's Kidnapping & Murder Pleads Guilty

CECIL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) -- A sex offender who admitted Tuesday that he killed an 11-year-old girl will be locked up for life. 

Adam May has details from court and emotional reaction from the family.

Under this plea deal, Thomas Leggs agreed to two life sentences without parole.

In late 2009, 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell was snatched from her Salisbury bedroom in the middle of the night.  She was missing for three days before her body was discovered in a wooded area on Christmas Day.

Convicted sex offender Thomas Leggs Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday, agreeing to life in prison.

"It's time to move on, time to celebrate who she was and what she was 'cause she's at rest.  She's at peace," said her mother, Jennifer Foxwell.

Sarah's mother and father are pleased with the deal.

"She was an innocent, fun-loving, happy little girl.  She has lots of brothers and sisters that loved her and part of my life will never be the same," said Thomas Foxwell.

As part of the plea deal, investigators also interviewed Leggs in depth.  He admitted to every detail of the crime.  Researchers were also sitting in, hoping they could learn something.

"That man will never see the  light of day and hurt a hair on another child ever again.  He's in a hole the rest of his life," said Wicomico State's Attorney Matthew Maciarello.

But Leggs avoids the death penalty, which is what the family originally wanted.

"If I thought Maryland would enforce the death penalty, I'm all for it, but we don't feel they're gonna enforce it," Thomas Foxwell said.

"This was a horrible, heinous crime.  Mr. Leggs should have been put to death, but that puts the family through a lifetime of appeals and hearings," Maciarello said.  "A death sentence for Leggs would be a life sentence for the family."

Instead, they want to remember Sarah's life and not her tragic death.

"[She's a] beautiful, bright star in the sky, smiling down on each of us every night," Jennifer Foxwell said.

Leggs briefly dated Sarah's aunt prior to the murder.  He's already been interviewed by FBI profilers.  They'll use the information to help them solve other pedophile cases.

Under the structure of the deal, Leggs will have limited appeal options.

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