Six years after she was last seen - five years after her skeletonized body was found in a shallow grave in New Jersey's Pinelands - the trial of Taneke Daniels' former boyfriend and alleged killer began this morning in a Philadelphia courtroom.
Glenn Hansen, 47, is charged with murder and abuse of corpse in what Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman said was a killing to prevent Daniels, 27, a South Philadelphia mother of three, from testifying against Hansen in a domestic assault hearing.
"We know that he took a pillow and put it over her face and held it down while she screamed and kicked until she stopped kicking," Fairman told the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury.
Fairman said that after Daniels was dead Hansen had sex with the corpse before wrapping it in a tarp and burying her in the Pinelands in Woodland Township, Burlington County.
The case will likely focus on the key prosecution witness - Hansen's sister, Kelly Hansen - who Fairman said will discuss how Hansen confided in her about the killing and how she accompanied him on several visits to Daniels' wooded grave site.
Hansen defense attorney Michael P. Parkinson told the jury in his opening that he would show that Kelly Hansen is lying to keep herself from being criminally charged.
Parkinson said that Hansen had been granted immunity from prosecution by the District Attorney's office and warned the jury: "Watch out for that lightning bolt when she puts her hand on the Bible."
Parkinson said Hansen originally told investigators that her brother said Daniels died of an drug overdose and that she advised her brother to hide the body because he had an open criminal case and would go to prison.
Parkinson portrayed his client as a victim of an erroneous initial report by a New Jersey medical examiner that Daniels died of asphyxiation.
For that reason, Parkinson told the jury, homicide investigators chose to believe Hansen's sisters later story: "At that point that's what they think and that's what they needed it to be."
Daniels was last seen May 12, 2005 leaving the high-rise apartment she sometimes shared with Hansen in the 1100 block of N. 63d Street in Overbrook, where he worked in maintenance.
On April 24, 2006, workers making repairs in state forest land in the Pinelands noticed an odor coming from an area in the woods, notice some tarp protruding from the ground along with human bones.
Fairman said forensic experts were able to rehydrate skin remaining on the fingers to obtain fingerprints to prove it was Daniels. The prosecutor said the body also had a broken leg set with steel pins, matching the injury Daniels had from an auto accident.