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'You Can’t Die And Burn In Hell Fast Enough’: Brothers Confront Man Who Killed Their Mom In 1981

Linda Slaten was found dead in her apartment with a wire hanger wrapped around her neck on Sept. 4, 1981, but it took decades for her sons to learn the identity of her killer.

By Jill Sederstrom
Brothers Confront Mother's Killer In Court 40 Years Later

For decades, Linda Slaten’s sons believed they’d never find out who raped and murdered their mother when they were children.

But on Wednesday the brothers confronted her killer — a man who had a connection to the family all those years ago.

Joseph Mills had once been Tim Slaten’s youth football coach, but pleaded guilty on Wednesday to sexually assaulting and killing the 31-year-old single mother as her two sons slept nearby on Sept. 4, 1981, local station WTVT reports.

“I hope when you’re in prison, things happen to you. Bad things,” Tim Slaten, the younger brother, told his former coach in court.

Mills had been someone Tim Slaten trusted — he'd even given the boy a ride to and from practice the day before his mother’s body was discovered.

“I saw the crime scene, I saw what you did, and then you act like my friend. I rode in the car with you,” Tim, who was just 12 years old at the time of the slaying, said in court, adding that he had “so much hate” for Mills.

For years, Tim said he had “no clue” Mills had been his mother’s killer, describing him to WLFA as being the “last person on his radar."

“I got a picture of our football team and him standing right behind me in the picture. Been in my house this whole time and never had a clue,” he said.

Tim’s older brother, Jeff Slaten, who had been 15 years old at the time of his mother's murder, was equally enraged.

"I hate you; you can’t die and burn in hell fast enough for me," he said of the decades of pain and unanswered questions the family was forced to endure, WTVT reported.

“Why Joe? Why’d you take my mama?” he asked Mills at his sentencing, according to WFLA. "I don’t know why you can’t tell me why. Why you have to murder my mama?”

The morning Linda Slaten's body was found, her sister Judy Butler had gone to the apartment so the two could  have coffee. But when she arrived, Butler found her sister dead — laying on the bed with a wire hangr wrapped around her neck.

She had been sexually assaulted and died of strangulation, according to an affidavit previously obtained by Oxygen.com.

“Joe, how could you do that?” Butler asked Mills during the hearing, according to WFLA. “Do you have any soul? Do you have any remorse?”

But Mills never provided an answer to either Jeff Slaten or Judy Butler, and only briefly addressed the court.

“I am a good person. I’m not that person that they’re painting me out to be,” he told the judge before being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

For decades, Linda Slaten’s case had been unsolved until investigators took a new look at the evidence. They submitted a DNA profile developed from evidence at the crime scene to an online ancestry database, through which they were able to link to Mills through genetic genealogy.

After the link was made with the help of Parabon Nano labs, investigators discreetly collected a fresh DNA sample from Mills’ trash and were able to match it to DNA found in Linda’ Slaten's rape kit.

Investigators were also able to link Mills’ to the murder through his fingerprints, Florida station WTSP reports.

Although Mills had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, he changed the plea this week in order to avoid the death penalty.

While the sentence gives Linda Slaten’s sons some measure of peace, they said it will be difficult to ever find closure.

“It’s not over in a sense because he’s still walking,” Tim Slaten said. “My mom’s not. I saw the crime scene. It’s in my head every day.”

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