FORT MILL, SC (WBTV) - A Fort Mill man will spend 45 year in prison after pleading guilty ot the gruesome murder of his girlfriend in 2015.
John Coddington, 23, was charged with murder in the December 2015 death of Tiffany Williams. Investigators said Williams was beaten to death and her remains were found burned in a metal burn barrel in nearby Chester County.
On Wednesday, Coddington pleaded guilty to the murder charge in front of family members on both sides.
Prosecutors said Coddington and Williams entered into a relationship after meeting on Backpage.com, a website that advertises for prostitution.
"About 3 weeks after meeting, they agreed that she was going to give up using Backpage and being an escort, and that they would both quit using drugs and she would move in with him to his apartment," said Solicitor Kevin Brackett.
When Coddington returned to their shared apartment last December, prosecutors said he found Williams passed out. He told investigators he went through her phone and discovered she was still using the site to meet other men.
Investigators said he smoked approximately two grams of crack cocaine, got drunk, and then beat and kicked Williams to death.
There were several pools of blood throughout the apartment.
"He stood there smoking a cigarette, she was still conscious, they were talking for the last 20 minutes or so of their life and he stood there and watched her die," Brackett told a judge in court Wednesday.
After her death, Coddington continued to go to work at a Harris Teeter in Rock Hill. Days later, co-workers reported the possible crime to police after noticing Coddington's hands were swollen.
Detectives found blood in their apartment and, according to prosecutors, Coddington confessed to the crime.
Investigators believe Coddington put Williams' body in a suitcase and then took it to Chester County. He attempted to get rid of any evidence by burning it in a barrel for several days.
"It was a stick that he said he used to push her body down as it was burning to keep it down inside to help position it properly over the flames to help burn it," Brackett said.
Williams' sister, Megan, who is in jail on a drug charge, kept her head down as graphic details were read aloud. She later spoke to the judge about her sister and the three children she left behind.
"I wonder a lot of days, was it worth it to him? I think he gets satisfaction out of what he's done and I hope he never gets to walk out of prison a free man," Megan Williams said.
Coddington's public defenders painted a much different picture. They said Coddington was known as a quiet and polite man who had overcome challenges growing up.
"The prosecution has portrayed him as a monster. But everybody who knows him, knows him very differently," said Public Defender Harry Dest.
Dest said Williams was Coddington's first girlfriend, and said she introduced him to drugs. Coddington's father and two family friends also spoke on his behalf. Dest asked the judge for "mercy."
Coddington offered words of remorse for Williams' family before he was sentenced.
"I apologize to all Tiffany Williams' family, especially her sister, and her children. I have nothing else I can say," Coddington said.
The judge sentenced Coddington to 45 years in prison. He will not be free until the age of 68.