Nearly a decade after killing his wife and leaving her body in a West Virginia state forest, a Waynesboro man has pleaded guilty to murder. Thomas Tait entered the plea Monday morning, and faces decades behind bars.
Thomas Neal Tait, 52, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder. A judge ordered him to serve 30 years in prison.
Police from Waynesboro and West Virginia announced last November that they were investigating the death of 23-year-old Karen Santillan Tait.
In 2002, the body of a "Jane Doe" was found in a state forest just west of the state line, but nearly a decade passed before she was identified as Karen Santillan Tait. At the time of the alleged murder, Thomas and Karen Tait and a young child were living a duplex on Fairfax Avenue in Waynesboro.
It wasn't until nine years later, during an unrelated investigation, that Waynesboro police learned Karen was missing, and had been for years. Her case remained a "Jane Doe" file, until Waynesboro police were questioning Thomas Tait in a child sexual abuse case. Once the two cases finally intersected, police got a quick arrest and conviction.
"Safe to say Mr. Tait's not going to see the light of day again... and there is justice for Karen and their child. It's long overdue - but it's there," said Sgt. Brian Edwards of Waynesboro police.
Tait still faces the potential of more prison time. He will be sentenced in Waynesboro on Thursday, February 14 on 19 felony convictions for possessing child porn.
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