Kenneth Patterson entered the plea in court on Monday in the murder of Diane Corado.
Patterson avoided the death penalty by striking a plea deal with prosecutors, which included leading authorities to Corado's remains.
The 57-year-old nurse was last seen 2 1/2 years ago being kidnapped from her apartment in Falls Township.
Witnesses helped police make the arrest quickly, but the victim's body wasn't recovered until 2 months ago.
Diane Corado's remains were found in Newton Creek in Camden, where she drowned after Patterson brutally beat her with a metal pipe, tied her hands behind her back, and dumped her into the water.
The 52-year-old Patterson now admits that he killed Corado in a drug- and alcohol- fueled rage after she broke off the relationship.
In court Monday, Patterson apologized to Corado's family, saying in part:
"I understand the hatred you have for me, I feel it myself.... There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the woman I loved with all my heart."
Corado's son, Scott Melnick, was not impressed.
"A little too late. Doesn't really mean anything. It's not going to console me whatsoever," he said.
Before handing down the verdict, Judge Alan Rubenstein voiced concern that this plea deal might send the message that any murderer could escape the death penalty by simply hiding the body.
But 1st Assistant D.A. Michelle Henry said both she and the victim's family are satisfied with the outcome.
"He'll die in jail," she said. "It also spares the family the endless rounds of appeals that accompany any death penalty case in Pennsylvania currently."
The victim's family told us the comfort they received Monday is knowing that Kenneth Patterson will never hurt another innocent person.