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A man in Pennsylvania has been sentenced after he confessed to murdering his girlfriend back in 2003 and concealing her body for 16 years.
Jade Babcock, 52, will spend 15 to 30 years behind bars for the murder of Brenda Lee Jacobs, as reported by Penn Live. Babcock was sentenced by Lycoming County Senior Judge Kenneth Brown on Thursday immediately after the defendant pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree murder.
As part of the plea agreement, charges of abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice were taken off the table.
Babcock’s account to the courts of what happened on (what he said was) Dec. 26, 2003 mirrored what investigators theorized back in 2019 when he was initially charged with Jacobs’ murder, according to PennLive.
Babcock confessed that the pair had been drinking heavily at the Montoursville home in which they lived — about 80 miles west of Scranton in central Pennsylvania — and fought over the recent loss of their jobs and their inability to buy Christmas presents for family members.
Babcock, who said he was drunk at the time, said he slapped Jacobs during the argument, causing her to have a nosebleed. Jacobs allegedly threatened to call the cops.
The Montoursville police had already investigated Babcock for assaulting Jacobs in August 2003, PennLive reported. He'd allegedly grabbed and pulled her by the hair and hit her in the face and head. They did not say what the results of the initial domestic violence investigation had been.
But when Jacobs threatened to report him again, according to Babcock, he “saw red” and punched her in the head repeatedly with his closed fists.
“The last time I hit her, I hit her hard,” said Babcock, according to an affidavit obtained by Penn Live. “I blasted her.”
Jacobs lost consciousness after Babcock struck her. According to Chief Public Defender Nicole Spring, Babcock claimed he did not intend to kill his girlfriend, according to Penn Live, but admitted that he sat with her body for 20 hours without calling authorities.
A later autopsy determined that she died of a subdermal hematoma, according to the outlet, but the length of time before her body was discovered made it impossible to determine what had caused the brain bleed, the outlet reported. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that it can take hours for a subdermal hematoma to become fatal without treatment.
Babcock said he eventually wrapped Jacobs's body in a comforter and placed her in a closet. Months later, as the weather became warm, he transferred the corpse to a coal bin in a barn behind the couple's residence, which belonged to his grandmother.
The corpse would remain there for the next 15 years.
Jacobs’ ex-husband and the father of her two children, Gary Jacobs, reported her missing to the Williamsport police in early 2004, according to Penn Live, which police eventually confirmed. The exes shared custody of their kids at the time, and they were with their father when Brenda Jacobs went missing
Gary Jacobs died in a motorcycle accident in 2008, but his brother, Randy, said that their family believes Brenda Jacobs actually died after Dec. 27, as she and Gary had been in touch on that day and he couldn't reach her after that to return their kids before leaving on a business trip. He reported her missing when he returned after New Year's, PennLive reported, but police allegedly told him they believed that she was trying to dodge charges for passing bad checks and she was an adult who could do as she pleased.
Multiple bench warrants were issued for her arrest in 2004 after she failed to appeal on the fraud charges, and Gary Jacobs used lawyers in 2004 to try and work out their custody arrangement to no avail. After his death, the family used private investigators to try to find her to settle his estate and asked Social Security to report any activity by her.
Still, police didn't initiate a missing persons report on Brenda Jacobs until her sister filed a new missing persons report in 2013. Police, who initially said after her body was discovered that 2013 was the first time she was reported missing, refused to comment on the discrepancy to PennLive.
On November 2018, the Montoursville home belonging to Babcock's grandmother — at which he'd been living with a new girlfriend, Brenda Jones — was sold. Babcock admitted to cutting the legs from the mummified corpse as a means of fitting the body into a wooden box to deposit at a storage facility in Williamsport; he eventually moved the body to a second storage facility in Philadelphia. Babcock also threw Jacobs' severed limbs into the Susquehanna River in Williamsport; fishermen discovered them downstream on May 11, 2019.
Babcock’s then-girlfriend, Brenda Jones, went to authorities in fear for her life on Sept. 16, 2019. She claimed that not only did Babcock confess to killing Jacobs to her, but that she watched Babcock use a hacksaw to remove the legs from Jacobs' corpse.
Jones said Babcock first tried to “break the body” to make it fit into the wooden box.
She then led authorities to what remained of Jacobs’ corpse at the Philadelphia storage unit the following day, according to Penn Live.
Jones died earlier this year, the Pennsylvania outlet reported.
Because medical examiners weren't able to determine what cause the brain bleeding that killed her, prosecutors weren't able to charge Babcock with first-degree murder.
Chief Public Defender Nicole Spring said Babcock pleaded guilty to third-degree murder to spare the victim’s family from a trial. He will serve his sentence at a Pennsylvania state prison.
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