MIDDLESEX, VA (WWBT) - A Virginia man found guilty of murder was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Terrilynn St. John was reported missing on Feb. 27 last year and was found about 20 feet off Barricks Mill Road in the Wake area of the Middlesex County on March 1.
Alvin Keyser was taken into custody and told detectives that he confronted St. John at her home and she hit him, so he hit her back.
He said he pushed her out of the van he was driving [it’s unclear how St. John ended up in his van at this time]. He then got out and strangled her until she stopped breathing. He loaded her body into the van and dropped her body in the woods.
“It was right there and we never knew. Our dog runs up and down there and we never knew. We’re horrified,” Joyce Sinclair, a neighbor, said last year.
Ron Vest and Joyce Sinclair didn’t know what was going on when the land next to their home transformed into a crime scene.
"Well my wife called me and said there's a crime lab in front of my house, so I came home and see all these guys here. I talked to the detectives and he said, 'I can't tell you nothing,'" Vest said.
It didn't take long for authorities to make the announcement.
"Then we're looking out the window and I see them bring a body out," Vest said. "I wish now we would've found her sooner. Maybe something could've happened, helped her out. It's just sad."
At a local convenience store, employees said the suspect frequents the store all the time, and they were stunned to learn he's the man accused.
“I know him too … I’ve been knowing him and he’s always been a good person. I’m just very shocked,” said teacher’s assistant Lisa Jett.
Keyser was also found guilty of concealment of a dead body.
He was sentenced to 30 years for second-degree murder and five years for concealing a dead body. He will serve a total of 35 years.
St. John, 23, was reported missing after she didn’t show up for work. Her two children - ages 1 and 3 at the time - were found alone inside. Her grandfather called the police.
The sheriff’s office says tips through social media helped in the case, and that Keyser contacted the sheriff’s office.