The man charged with killing his girlfriend, a federal worker, in 2009 confessed to the crime on Friday and has agreed to help investigators find her body in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, 52, agreed to serve 12 years in prison for the murder of Pamela Butler. As a part of his plea agreement, Rodriguez-Cruz said he will show authorities where he buried Butler's body.
If he doesn't cooperate, he will once again face a first-degree murder charge.
"If he doesn't get any time, we just want the body," Butler's brother, Derrick Butler, said.
Butler, an Environmental Protection Agency analyst, was last seen Feb. 12, 2009, outside her home on Fourth Street in Northwest D.C. She was 47 when she disappeared.
Butler and Rodriguez-Cruz got into an argument in the basement of Butler's home on Feb. 13, 2009, he said. He punched Butler and strangled her, he said.
Then, he loaded her body into his car through a rear window of her home.
Surveillance cameras at Butler's home captured video of Rodriguez-Cruz entering and exiting in the days that followed. During that time, prosecutors believe, Rodriguez-Cruz went through her things and removed sheets from her bed.
Her family declared her legally dead after she had been missing for more than seven years. At the time, Derrick Butler said her family wanted to settle her affairs and had accepted that she is gone.
The declaration allowed police to pursue murder charges against Rodriguez-Cruz.
Butler's mother, Thelma Butler, still struggles to come to terms with her daughter's death.
"I cry every day," she said outside court Friday.
Rodriguez-Cruz, who dated Butler for about five months, repeatedly denied involvement in her disappearance.
Derrick Butler said when he asked Rodriguez-Cruz if he killed his sister, he spoke about her in the past tense.
"'No, I didn’t. I loved your sister,'" Derrick Butler said. "Listen to what I said, now. 'I loved your sister.' Past tense."
Rodriguez-Cruz is also under investigation for the previous disappearance of his ex-wife, sources said.
His ex-wife, Marta Haydee Rodriguez, disappeared in 1989, but police located a woman by that name who had Rodriguez's identification in Florida in 2000 and closed the missing persons case, sources said. It appears that woman was an imposter and Rodriguez-Cruz's ex-wife is still missing.
She had accused Rodriguez-Cruz of assault and kidnapping involving a knife and taping her mouth. In court documents, he was quoted as saying, "If I can't have her, no one will." But she disappeared before she got to testify in court.