A 38-year-old Lindenwold man has pleaded guilty to beating his mother to death with a hammer, hiding the body in the family's attic, and then fleeing to Florida, authorities said.

Joseph Leptien at first tried to strangle his mother, Mary, 63, on Dec. 17. 2006, following an argument at home in the first block of Carver Street, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

He then beat her on the head several times with a hammer, hid her body, and took her vehicle to Florida. The body was found two days later after Mary Leptien's daughters called police because their mother had not shown up to work as a cook in a nursing home.

At the time, the family also reported Joseph Leptien missing.

On Dec. 30, 2006, he was arrested after allegedly trying to shoplift in Punta Gorda, Fla. He was extradited to Camden County.

Leptien, who pleaded guilty Monday, will be sentenced on Jan. 16. As part of the plea agreement, Leptien is expected to be given 30 years without eligibility for parole followed by five years of supervised release.

Contact staff writer Matt Katz at 856-779-3919 or at mkatz@phillynews.com.