A Sarasota man who strangled his girlfriend and then hung her body to make it look like a suicide was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Brian Wilson, 48, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder for the slaying of Jennifer Copeland, 43.
At about 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 28, 2015, Copeland’s body was discovered when Sarasota police responded to reports of a possible burglary in progress in the 1100 block of Patterson Drive in Sarasota. Copeland’s mother, who lived in the home, told police that she got home and saw a tear in the screen near a door knob and glass slate removed, and feared there had been an intruder.
As police searched the home they didn’t find any intruders, but did find Copeland’s body hanging by the neck from a rope that was tied to the exposed trusses of a detached garage. Paramedics pronounced her dead.
The mother told police she had last seen her daughter with Wilson between 9 and 11 p.m. Nov. 27. Earlier that day, the mother said Wilson had showed her a hangman’s noose hanging from the garage rafters and she had asked him to take it down.
However, investigators later realized there was something peculiarly suspicious about the way the noose had been tied and in the days that followed two witnesses came forward to tell police Wilson had admitted to killing Copeland.