UPDATE: Mthulisi Ndlovu, 38, was sentenced Friday to more than 20 years in prison for killing his 42-year-old girlfriend, Mary Mushapaidzi, at their Bonney Lake home. The incident took place Oct. 8.
Ndlovu had pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to second-degree murder.
Mushapaidzi's two children, ages eight and two years, were in the home at the time of the murder.
According to charging documents, Ndlovu went to the Bonney Lake Police Department on Oct. 9, 2011, to report that his girlfriend was missing. He told police at the time that she went for a run earlier that morning and had not returned.
When officers went to the couple's home they smelled what seemed to be plastic that had been burned. Ndlovu told officers he ahd been burning junk mail in the garage.
Police spoke to neighbors who reported they had heard arguing between the couple the previous evening.One neighbor said they heard loud banging about 11:30 p.m. and another neighbor said they saw Mushapaidzi arrive at the home about the same time.
After obtaining a search warrant, officers entered the home and saw blood streaks on the stairway from the kitchen to the garage. They also found a burn barrel that contained charred human remains and pruning shears that are believed to have been the weapon used in the incident.
After questioning, Ndlovu told investigators that he and Mushapaidzi had an argument over dirty dishes. He told police that she had hit him in the face with her purse and that made him enraged, and he started punching her.
He told police he could not remember if he strangled her or hit her with the pruning shears but once he realized she was dead, he dragged her body to the garage and placed her body in the barrel. Later, he placed charcoal in the barrel and lit it in an attempt to destroy the body.
Ndlovu and Mushaipaidzi are from Zimbabwe; he had no criminal history and there is not any evidence of prior domestic violence.
ORIGINAL STORY: A body was found in the home of a Bonney Lake woman Sunday evening, a few hours after she had been reported missing, Bonney Lake police department spokesman Terry Carter said.
Carter did not confirm if the body is that of the missing woman.
About 11 a.m. Sunday, a man called police to report that his girlfriend, 42-year-old Mary Mushapaidzi, was missing.
Mushapaidzi's boyfriend told police he had last seen her when "she left to go running on Inlet Island in Bonney Lake," Carter said. "Mary did not show up for work today [Sunday]."
After conducting a search of the area where Mushapaidzi was reportedly running, police received a warrant to search her home.
"Upon serving a search warrant on Mary's residence, detectives located human remains inside the residence," Carter Said. "The boyfriend of the missing female is in custody for investigation of homicide."
Detectives returned to the home Monday morning to continue their investigation.