LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The man convicted of the 2010 killing of a Peru State College student whose body has never been found has been sentenced to 71-years to life in prison.
38-year old Joshua Keadle was convicted by a jury in February of 2nd-degree murder in the death of 19-year old Tyler Thomas of Omaha.
Keadle’s sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for late April, but was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. Friends and relatives of Thomas hugged and cried when the sentence was finally handed down on Wednesday.
Thomas disappeared Dec. 3, 2010, and the state issued a death certificate in 2013 without a body.
Keadle was an early suspect, but authorities didn’t charge him until 2017 because he had been in custody since 2012 when he began serving a 15-to-35 year prison sentence for raping a 15-year old girl in 2008 at Midland College in Fremont.
Thomas was last seen leaving a party near Peru State and Keadle, a fellow Peru State student, denied for 3 days of having any contact with her.
He then said they had sex in his vehicle the night Thomas disappeared, claiming he’d lied to investigators because Thomas threatened to report he had raped her. Keadle maintained he left Thomas alive at a Missouri River boat ramp near the campus and led authorities there.