Daman Smoot, 36, was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Adam Brundage, 26, of Quakertown, a father of two who had last been seen in October 2004.
District Attorney Matthew Weintraub told reporters Tuesday that the defendant struck the victim in the back of the neck with a baseball bat and then covered his nose and mouth to ensure that he was no longer breathing. He then used heavy equipment to bury the body in a Chalfont quarry, from which it was recovered a few days ago.
"Adam was buried at the quarry. He never had a funeral, he didn't have a grave marker, no epitaph, just a tomb in a rock for 15 years. But I'm very, very proud and pleased to say he will now be returned to his family for proper burial," Weintraub said.
The defendant was jealous of the victim, who had come into a "small but sizeable" inheritance, "so he killed him and he assumed his life in a way," remaining in the residence after the slaying, and driving the victim's car and using his things, Weintraub said.
Weintraub said in exchange for Smoot's anticipated plea to third-degree murder and his help recovering the body - which he said probably otherwise would never have been found - prosecutors had agreed to recommend a 20- to 40-year sentence.
The family, Weintraub said, was relieved and very happy to have the victim's remains recovered.
Court-appointed defense attorney Keith Williams said his client, who had been serving a domestic assault sentence, "wanted to unburden his soul" in the slaying. He said he believed the defendant of 2020 was a different person from the man he had been in 2004, and the plea would allow him "at least a light at the end of the tunnel."
"He's very sorry for the person he used to be, and he is not that person anymore," Williams said when asked if his client had any message for the family.