Guilty Verdict in 2010 Peru State Disappearance

A southeast Nebraska jury has convicted a man of killing a Peru State College student in late 2010 whose body has never been found. Joshua Keadle faces 20-years-to-life in prison for the 2nd degree murder conviction when sentenced on April 29.

Keadle was charged with 1st-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Tyler Thomas of Omaha, but after 8 hours of deliberation spread over two days the jury on Thursday instead found him guilty of the lesser-included charge of 2nd degree murder.

Thomas disappeared Dec. 3, 2010, after 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 admitted having sex in his vehicle the night she disappeared, explaining 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.

Although no body has ever been found, the state issued a death certificate for Thomas in 2013. Defense attorney Matt McDonald said Thomas is likely dead but that Keadle “is not the cause of her death” suggesting she died of hypothermia while drunk after Keadle left her alive at the boat ramp.

Attorney General Doug Peterson released a statement after the verdict saying he greatly appreciates the extraordinary effort of law enforcement in not giving up on the case and the excellent work done by the prosecution team.

Peterson also said that while authorities haven’t been able to bring her body home, they hope the verdict will give the Thomas family “some semblance of closure from their long years of uncertainty and suffering.”

Authorities didn’t charge Keadle until 2017, taking their time in charging and bringing him to trial because he was convicted in 2012 of raping a 15-year old girl in 2008 at Midland College in Fremont and sentenced to 15-to-35 years in prison. He would have been eligible for parole later this year.

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