FAYETTE COUNTY, Pa. — Thomas Teets, the man charged last week in the death of Leah Owens, pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.
Teets, 32, was arrested Oct. 27 in the death of 31-year-old Leah Owens, who had been missing for several weeks before her body was recovered. He was charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, theft by unlawful taking, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. %
During a news conference Thursday, Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower called Teets the “nine-finger man.” He said Teets cut off a finger while stabbing Owens.
Teets' guilty plea will keep him off death row.
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Cammie Crosby, Owens’ mother, spoke and showed one of her favorite pictures of her daughter during the news conference.
“I knew Tommy Teets knew where Leah was, and I knew in my heart he was behind it,” Crosby said.
Crosby addressed Teets during the sentencing, saying she was "devastated," but thanked him for "bringing Leah home to me."
"We needed closure and we needed it bad," she said outside the courtroom.
Owens went missing Sept. 15. Teets was spotted the same day driving her SUV, which was found later that month in a wooded area of Dunbar Township, outside Connellsville, police said.
Blood belonging to Owens and Teets was found in the SUV, as well as on a knife, according to a criminal complaint.
Family members of Teets told police they saw him covered in blood on the day of Owens’ disappearance, the complaint said. %
Teets admitted to his mother and a friend that he killed Owens, according to investigators.
A search warrant executed at Teets’ mother’s home led to the discovery of the keys to Owens’ SUV in a vent, the complaint said. Three items of clothing that appeared to be stained with blood were also seized.
Investigators said Teets led police to Owens’ body on the day of his arrest and gave a full confession.
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