CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man accused of strangling his co-worker in 2010, dismembering her and burying her in the backyard of his Chesapeake home admitted Wednesday to the killing.
Charles Eugene March, 60, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Wednesday in the death of Sheila "Kathy" Goble, allowing investigators for the first time since his arrest in April to reveal bizarre snippets of the crime.
March told detectives shortly after he was arrested that he bound Goble, 62, to his bed with his own neckties, sat on her chest with his knees and strangled her until "he could feel a bone pop between his thumbs," Kanawha County Sheriff's Detective Sean Snuffer testified during the plea hearing.
March covered her head with a plastic bag to make sure she was dead, then took her to his bathroom and used a Cobalt wood saw to cut off her limbs, Snuffer said.
In April, March's son was attempting to fill a sinkhole at the property when he uncovered a human head. March said later that Goble's body was buried there and told detectives that he buried her purse in a different part of the property, Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants said.
Medical examiners also revealed that Goble's nose was broken. It's not clear whether the break occurred before she was killed, Plants said.
Plants said that while March stands convicted of the crime, many "how" and "why" questions still linger. For one, investigators have not uncovered a clear motive.
"I don't know how to answer that question," he said. "I can't say why; I can only prove that he did what he did. And the evidence shows that he strangled Ms. Goble, put a bag over her head and caused her death."
When asked to identify the type of relationship March had with Goble, a family friend said simply "they were co-workers." Plants said later that the two were believed to be friends, but it is still unclear why Goble was inside March's home and how she got there.
March and Goble worked together at Kelley's Mens Shop on Charleston's West Side.
Police found Goble's car off the Scary Creek exit of Interstate 64 in Putnam County. Plants said that investigators found no evidence that showed more than one person was involved in Goble's slaying but did not have an explanation about how the car got there. The car had a "flag" in the window, but was in working order, according to Snuffer.
On Wednesday, March appeared to waffle back and forth between a decision to move forward with the guilty plea or wait for the trial date. He has been in an isolated medical unit at South Central Regional Jail ever since he attempted to commit suicide by falling from a second story railing, his lawyer Richard Holicker, told Kanawha County Circuit Judge Bloom.
Holicker said that the isolation has left March ambivalent and confused about his case and he has repeatedly asserted that he feels his client is making a bad decision. March walked with a heavy limp Wednesday, but did not use a wheelchair.
March said that he did not intentionally kill Goble, but wanted to move ahead with the plea anyway because he still believed his actions amounted to murder.
"There's nothing done intentionally," he said. "[But] I still killed her."
Holicker finally conceded that his client has the "right to make a bad choice."
Judge Bloom said he was satisfied that the plea was voluntary.
Goble family friend Billy Herrald, acting as a spokesman for the family, said he didn't believe March's assertions that the killing was unintentional. He also could not speculate as to what could have driven March to commit the crime.
"Only three people know why he did it: Kathy, Charles March, and God," he said. "Two of those people I can't ask. One of them -- I don't know what the answer is."
March's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 31.
In April, March was arrested almost two years exactly after Goble disappeared. Within those two years, family, friends and police had been frustrated by a lack of new information in the case.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.