OMAHA — A Douglas County jury has found an ex-convict guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a 22-year-old Omaha woman. It took them less than an hour to find 40-year-old Jeremiah Connelly guilty of killing Jeanna Wilcoxen one year ago, dumping her body in Fremont.
Prosecutors laid out a case that included Connelly’s confession to police that he had abducted Wilcoxen from an Omaha park near a laundromat where he’d met her a day earlier. He told police that he was angry she had backed out of plans to move in with him. He told police he forced her into his van, assaulted her and suffocated her by wrapping her head in duct tape. Connelly then drove the body over an hour to dump her just outside of Fremont.
Police caught up to Connelly on an auto theft charge – the van, which became a crime scene, was stolen. As police took Connelly into custody on that charge, he made a comment to the police that they shouldn’t be worrying about a stolen van; instead, they should be worrying about the life he took. This utterance and the subsequent discovery of Jeanna Wilcoxen’s body in a Fremont ravine kicked off a murder investigation, eventually resulting in Connelly’s confession.
Connelly carried out the killing just six weeks after he had been released from prison – six months early, despite the fact that he failed out of a program for the rehabilitation of violent offenders. Connelly had been jailed for the attempted kidnapping of a female jogger, robbery and other crimes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.