Sailor Guilty in Death, Burning of Roommate

A sailor who killed his roommate, then took her body to Massachusetts (search) and burned it on a charcoal pyre, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday.

Jarred D. Swartzmiller (search), 22, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced July 12.

"I will be asking for that sentence," prosecutor Harvey Bryant (search) said.

The charred body of fellow sailor Laura Skinner, 21, was found last May in Hatfield, Mass. Swartzmiller surrendered the following day in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, after a nationwide search.

Bryant said a motive had not been determined, but Swartzmiller wrote a confession letter to another shipmate before he was arrested. "I took a wife from a man, I took mother's daughter," he wrote. "For what! Jealousy. Disrespect."

Skinner had wed another sailor four days before she was slain.

At a preliminary hearing in September, a friend testified that Swartzmiller told him he was in a daze from alcohol and a prescription painkiller when he wrapped a belt around his hand and hit Skinner in the head with the buckle.

Authorities said Swartzmiller tried to hide the crime by driving the body out of state, wrapping it in a sleeping bag and burning it.

Skinner, Swartzmiller and their other roommate, Paula Burd, were shipmates on the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.