- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (AP) - A jury has convicted a man of killing his girlfriend in Lancaster County, even though the woman’s body was never found.

The Spotsylvania County jury found 54-year-old James Todd Kessler guilty of second-degree murder and concealment of a dead body late Tuesday. The jury recommended a prison term of 45 years. Kessler will be sentenced later this year.

Prosecutor Tony Spencer told the Richmond Times-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1T2D6AI ) that Kessler had rejected a plea deal of 20 years in prison. Kessler would have had to plead guilty and tell authorities where they could find 43-year-old Claudine Gifford’s body.

Kessler and Gifford were last seen together at a Lancaster bar on July 6, 2014.

Defense attorneys said they were trying to determine whether Gifford is still alive and using a false identity.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, https://www.timesdispatch.com


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