TOWSON, Md. - A former college student who raped a woman he met on MySpace.com, beat her to death and disfigured her corpse to prevent her from being identified was spared the death penalty yesterday.

A jury sentenced John Gaumer, 23, to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Gaumer was a senior biochemistry major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with no criminal record when he met Josie Brown, 27, of Baltimore, on MySpace, a social networking site.

They went on their first date Dec. 30, 2005, and Gaumer later told police that he sexually assaulted and beat Brown to death in "a blind rage" after she changed her mind about going home with him.

Her nude body was found 40 days later near a highway interchange. She had been beaten so badly that virtually no facial bones were intact.

In a videotaped statement to police, Gaumer said he removed Brown's jawbone and nose and sliced her fingertips to obscure her identity. Gaumer was convicted last week of first-degree murder and first-degree rape. *

- Associated Press