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Man Pleads Guilty To 2011 Murder Of St. Paul Woman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- More than a year after her death, a St. Paul woman's boyfriend has pleaded guilty to killing her and hiding her body.

Corey Dean Thomas, 32, of St. Paul pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder with intent in connection to the Oct. 17, 2011 death of Megan Neely. He faces up to 33 years in prison.

Police found Neely dead in a crawl space in her St. Paul apartment last November. She had been missing for several days, and family members were worried when she didn't show up for a gathering.

"This case reminds us of the terrible toll that domestic violence takes on families and the community as a whole," said Ramsey County Attorney, John Choi. "We are grateful for today's plea as it spares the victim's family the pain of a trial and holds the offender accountable."

Neely had been taped three days before her body was discovered purchasing food at a local Wal-Mart. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner determined that she died sometime before 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 16 after being strangled.

The Neelys first reported Megan missing on Oct. 15, 2011. An initial search by police of Neely's apartment turned up nothing. But another search of the home two days later uncovered her body in a crawl space.

According to the criminal complaint, Thomas -- Neely's boyfriend -- sold his car and boarded a bus for a one-way trip to Miami that same day.

Miami police arrested and questioned him about the murder. When asked about scratches on his neck, he denied they came from Neely and said they were a workplace injury. His manager denied that any injury took place.

Police say since Thomas was already in custody for a parole violation, they waited for DNA evidence to help make the case against him.

DNA taken from Neely's fingernails eliminated 99.97 percent of the general population of the murder charge; but not Thomas.

Choi said Thomas has a history of domestic violence with three prior assault convictions.

Thomas will be sentenced on Dec. 11 in Ramsey County District Court.

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