An Idaho man has taken a plea deal for the 2007 killing of a young mother whose case was profiled on Oxygen's “Cold Justice.”
Stephanie Eldredge, a 21-year-old mother of three, mysteriously vanished in 2007 from the Idaho Falls home she shared with her boyfriend and his half-brother Kenneth Jones, East Idaho News reports. Her body would not be discovered until three years later in 2010, buried in a shallow grave in the Ammon foothills. Because her body was exposed to the elements for years, it was hard to determine how she died, "Cold Justice" noted.
Jones, 32, pleading guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter and concealment for her death. He also admitted alteration or destruction of evidence, the East Idaho News reports.
Investigators honed in on Jones as far back as 2009 when, while being jailed for an unrelated incident, he allegedly confessed to a cellmate that he killed Eldredge, East Idaho News reported last year. According to that alleged admission, he hit Eldredge in the back of the head at their home before suffocating her, wrapping her body in a blanket, putting it in the trunk of his car and disposing of it.
Still, investigators did not have enough evidence to charge Jones and the case went cold.
Eldredge’s death was featured on Oxygen’s “Cold Justice” in 2018. The show introduced the country to Eldredge’s family, who have been desperate to find justice for her. The series provided the local investigators with "resources and equipment" that allowed them to "more quickly conduct additional interviews of key witnesses and suspects in connection with the case,” the Idaho Falls Police Department stated in a 2019 press release. The show also provided funding for modern forensic testing of evidence.
By the following year, Jones was charged with second-degree murder in Eldredge’s death. He was already serving time for a third-degree arson case, which he was arrested for in 2011. He took a plea deal on Oct. 29 to the reduced charge of manslaughter.
“I pushed her, causing her to fall back and hit her head, which she never recovered from,” Jones said, according to local outlet the Post Register.
The plea agreement means that Jones will likely serve a minimum of 10 years behind bars.
“Let’s all send positive thoughts and prayers to Marisol’s family, prosecutor Steve Young and Tod Moore with the Cottonwood PD as they fight for justice in trial,” "Cold Justice" prosecutor Kelly Siegler told Oxygen.com in a statement.
Tonya Rider, a former Toledo Police Department detective and "Cold Justice" host, told Oxygen at CrimeCon 2019 that the show had at that point contributed to more than 40 arrests. The show's efforts have resulted in around 20 convictions, including that of Robin Mendez, who bludgeoned his wife to death in 1982 at her credit union job in Wisconsin.
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