A man who strangled his girlfriend and hid her body in a Hickory motel room was sentenced to 26 years in prison on Tuesday.
Rickey Allen Payne, 44, of Hickory, was sentenced in Catawba County Superior Court after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and concealing/failing to report a death, the Catawba County District Attorney’s Office said.
Motel workers found the body of 48-year-old Loretta Joyce Chadwick of Hickory when they went to clean the room and readjust the box springs and mattress of a bed in June 2013, prosecutors said.
Chadwick was killed four days before her body was discovered, and another guest had stayed in the room unaware of the decomposing body under the bed, according to prosecutors.
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An autopsy showed Chadwick had been strangled.
Payne and Chadwick had been in a relationship for about seven years. They checked into the motel on June 3, 2013, and Payne checked out a day later, although he stayed in another room at the motel for a couple more days, the district attorney’s office said.
Payne gave differing stories on Chadwick’s whereabouts. He told a friend that he killed Chadwick, indicating that she wanted him to end her life, prosecutors said. He also later admitted to investigators that he killed Chadwick.