Brian Mertz must serve more than 42 years before he's eligible for parole under the sentence handed down on Thursday.
Under the law, his sentence could have been anywhere from 30 years to life in prison.
The 2002 slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer Whipkey was a mystery for years.
Mertz became a suspect after he gave a DNA sample in 2005 when he was arrested on drug charges.
The 34-year-old Woodbury man was charged in 2008 and found guilty last year by a jury.