RALEIGH, N.C. — Tricia Todd’s family is finally getting some closure.
The Florida mother has been missing for nearly a month; she was last seen in a grocery store near her Hobe Sound home on April 26.
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said Friday that remains found buried in a container filled with a corrosive liquid are believed to be Todd’s.
Snyder announced Thursday that Todd’s ex-husband, Steven Williams, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder. He confessed to killing his ex-wife during an argument over finances.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Snyder said, Williams will spend 35 years in a Florida state prison.
Williams told authorities that Todd was buried in a shallow grave in a remote part of Hobe Sound’s Hungryland State Preserve, and Williams, along with his public defender, led law enforcement officials to the area.
According to WRAL, authorities believe he used a chainsaw to cut up her body before disposing of it.
Snyder said the plea arrangement was offered in the hopes of bringing closure to Todd’s family. “In a perfect world, this wouldn’t have happened. I think we’ve done the very best we can,” Snyder said. “The family’s agreed with what we’ve done and we make a decision based on what we knew at the time.”
While Snyder still considers the method and motive a mystery, he says Williams confessed to arguing with his ex-wife over finances and pushing her. She hit her head when she fell, he said. Even after the confession, Snyder says Williams changed his story about what he did with the body.
As chances for finding Todd’s body grew more remote, authorities negotiated the plea deal. “A body buried in an area this big, we could not roll the dice,” Snyder said. “We wanted to get the body back and bring closure to the family.”
Williams, a member of the Air Force, returned to Florida from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina at the request of authorities. He could face additional federal penalties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice as he was an active member of the armed forces at the time the crime was committed.
Representatives from the base did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Todd’s family thanked authorities for their efforts. “We are grateful to know that we will now be able to lay Tricia to rest with the grace and dignity that she deserves,” family spokesman Shaun Plymale said. “Although this is not the outcome we wanted, we are incredibly grateful that Tricia is now home.”
Williams is being held in the Martin County Jail without bond and will be formally sentenced on June 24.