AP NEWS

Nebraska man guilty in murder of woman found in burned car

February 5, 2020 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Norfolk, Nebraska, man pleaded guilty Wednesday to the murder of a South Dakota woman whose body was found in a burned car on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska.

Joseph Lloyd James, 48, entered the guilty plea to first-degree murder in federal court in Omaha, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His plea agreement mandates a life sentence.

James was arrested in the Nov. 5, 2018, stabbing and strangulation death of Phyllis Hunhoff, 59, of Yankton.

An investigation determined Hunhoff had left her mother’s home in Utica, South Dakota, and intended to return to Yankton. However, James and another man entered her car before she could drive away and they drove to Norfolk. The other man left and James drove himself and Hunhoff to the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation in Knox County, Nebraska.

After killing Hunhoff, James went to a gasoline station where surveillance video showed he pumped gas into a bottle. He later drove to a wooded spot on the reservation and set fire to Hunhoff’s body and her vehicle, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

District Court Judge Brian C. Buescher set sentencing for May 6 in Omaha.