The 39-year-old man accused of abducting and killing a 22-year-old woman told Omaha police he sexually assaulted her in his van before choking her to death, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Jeremiah Connelly was ordered held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the slaying of Jeanna Wilcoxen.
Connelly told police that on Sept. 16, he was planning to meet up with Wilcoxen, but she canceled the meeting, Deputy Douglas County Attorney Molly Keane said in court. Connelly told police he was upset over the cancellation and watched and waited for Wilcoxen.
He then spotted Wilcoxen in a park, approached her from behind and pulled her into his van. At some point, Keane said, Connelly pulled over and sexually assaulted Wilcoxen, and then killed her by choking her.
Connelly then drove around Council Bluffs and spots in Nebraska, getting rid of evidence such as cellphones and clothing, Keane said. He said he then dropped Wilcoxen’s body in a ravine along a desolate road in Fremont.
On Friday, Omaha police say, they pulled over a Kia Sephia that officers said was being driven recklessly. During the stop, the driver ran away. After a short foot pursuit, Connelly was taken into custody. In an interview with officers, Connelly mentioned that a woman had been dead since Sept. 17.
Connelly later led detectives to Wilcoxen’s body, Keane said. An autopsy found that the cause of her death was asphyxiation.
Wilcoxen had last been seen Sept. 17. No one had reported her missing. She had a 4-year-old son.
Connelly was released from prison on parole in June, about five months before he would have had to have been released for a 2005 crime spree. He tried to abduct a female jogger and set a car on fire, robbed a gas station and, later, attacked a judge. He also attacked a fellow inmate in 2007.
Authorities still are investigating Wilcoxen’s slaying and are asking the public if they had seen Connelly or his gray 1987 Chevrolet van in the areas of Omaha, Council Bluffs, Fremont, Columbus or Valley.