Utah prison inmate admits to 2 other murders

AP News
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Posted: Oct 04, 2014 5:44 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah prison inmate serving a life sentence for murdering a Salt Lake City chef has pleaded guilty to strangling a 17-year-old girl and confessed to a third murder in the state.

Thomas Noffsinger pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder in the April 1989 death of teenager Felicia Pappas of Millcreek in Salt Lake City.

As part of a plea bargain, the 47-year-old Noffsinger confessed but did not enter a plea to strangling 38-year-old Annette Hill of Sandy about a month later.

In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty, and Noffsinger was sentenced Friday to life without parole for murdering Pappas.

The sentence will run consecutively to his similar sentence for the 1990 stabbing death of Marie Callender's restaurant chef Victor Aguilar during a burglary at the restaurant. Aguillar, who left behind a wife and four young children, was stabbed, stomped on and his throat was slashed.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole earlier told Noffsinger he would never be released from prison for Aguilar's murder.

DNA evidence tested in 2012 linked Noffsinger to the cold-case murder of Pappas.

Pappas was last seen walking alone in the early-morning hours of April 6, 1989, after leaving a billiards hall. Her partially clad body was discovered just a block from her home the next morning. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Noffsinger also had been a person of interest in Hill's murder. Her body has never been found, but Noffsinger gave details about her slaying to prosecutors.

Although Noffsinger was never charged with Hill's death, 3rd District Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman said she imposed Friday's sentence on behalf of both victims.

Before handing down the sentence, the judge heard from Pappas' family and friends about the impact of her murder.

"I'm glad the state of Utah is putting you away forever," her father, Carl Pappas, said. "Please keep him locked up until he dies because that's where he belongs. You're not a man. You're an animal."

Deputy District Attorney Vincent Meister said Noffsinger had a "random meeting" with Felicia Pappas and did not know the girl he killed.

Hill's family members were present, but they did not speak at the hearing, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

In a letter to the court, Hill's daughter, Tiffany Childress, who was 11 when her mother vanished, wrote that "lives and hearts were ripped apart" because of Noffsinger.

Noffsinger declined the opportunity to speak, providing only short responses to the judge's questions.