A Wayne County man and his wife are preparing to be transported to state prisons after they pleaded guilty to killing their grandson's mother, officials said.
Steven Ray Beersdorf Sr., 47, and Sylvia Beersdorf, 44, entered guilty pleas in Wayne County Circuit Court on Wednesday, according to Mike Bottoms, district attorney general for the 22nd Judicial District. The district includes Wayne and Lawrence counties.
The couple were accused of killing Rose Goggins, 21, who lived with them at their home in the Beech Creek community, which is between Waynesboro and Clifton. Goggins was engaged to the Beersdorf's son, who was going through military training with the Tennessee National Guard at Camp Shelby, Miss., at the time of her death.
The Beersdorfs were indicted on first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges.
Bottoms said Steven Beersdorf pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to life in prison Court officials said Steven Beersdorf will be 99 years old when he becomes eligible for parole.
Sylvia Beersdorf pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, Bottoms said. Investigators determined she did not take part in Goggins' death, but knew of her husband's plan. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Court officials said Steven Beersdorf's trial was scheduled for March 28 in Lawrenceburg, while Sylvia Beersdorf was schedule to go to trial June 20 in Columbia.
Bottoms said he is pleased with the resolution to the case.
Authorities contend the motive for the killing stemmed from the Beersdorfs' fear Goggins was going to take away their grandson, who was 11 months old at the time, and keep them from seeing him.
The child is now in the custody of his father.
Goggins' remains were found Jan. 28, 2010, scattered over a 10-foot area on the Beersdorfs' property, authorities said. The site is in a wooded area about 250 yards behind a two-story log cabin at 1099 Swinging Bridge Road in Clifton.
Investigators with the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff's office sifted through layers of dirt to recover the remains. Authorities said they found flesh and small bone fragments.
Investigators said forensics experts used DNA from Goggins' son to identity the remains.
Wayne County Sheriff Ric Wilson said the investigation began as a missing person case. Reports indicate the Beersdorfs reported Goggins missing Jan. 16, 2010, after she did not arrive at an emergency medical technician training class she was scheduled to attend two days earlier in Lawrenceburg.
Wilson said the burned remains of Goggins' car were found Jan. 15, 2010, on an isolated logging road in McNairy County. Authorities said the car's GPS unit indicated it left the Beersdorf residence a day earlier and was driven to McNairy County.
After finding the car and beginning a murder investigation, authorities were told Goggins' body was thrown into the Tennessee River near Clifton. Crews spent several days searching a 10-mile stretch of the river above John Wilder Bridge.
Wilson said investigators then decided to go to the Beersdorfs' property and look around.
“That's when we found the evidence that lead to us finding what remains were left there at the site,” Wilson said.
Authorities said bone fragments were located during an initial search of the property.
Authorities accused the Beersdorfs of trying to cover up the killing by burning the body and then trying to chop it up with a backhoe. Investigators said the remains were chipped into small pieces with a backhoe and then scattered at several places on the couple's property.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.