A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury decided Tuesday that Taneke Daniels disappeared in 2005 because boyfriend Glenn Hansen murdered and then buried her in New Jersey's Pine Barrens.
The jury of seven men and five women had met for six hours since Monday before finding Hansen guilty of first-degree murder and abuse of corpse in the death of the 27-year-old mother of three.
Hansen, 57, tall and gaunt with thinning, combed-back hair and wire-rimmed glasses, faced the jury as it filed into court, a slight smile on his face. His smile fell and eyebrows arched as the jury forewoman read the verdict.
Judge Shelley Robins New set sentencing for Wednesday, though that is a formality. A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life prison term with no chance of parole. The District Attorney's Office did not seek the death penalty.
Gail Daniels, the victim's mother, who was in the courtroom each day of the five-day trial, wept quietly at the verdict.
"I'm just glad it's over," Daniels said. "I'm just glad he got his just deserts."
Hansen did not testify.
The Daniels family had waited for this day since Daniels had called her South Philadelphia home in the predawn hours of May 12, 2005. She was clearing her belongings from Hansen's Overbrook apartment, she said, and would be home about 6 a.m.
She never arrived.
Police questioned Hansen, who said Daniels had left his apartment and got into a waiting white SUV. Later, according to trial testimony, Hansen called Daniels' family and asked where she was, or said he had heard she moved to Texas.
On April 24, 2006, construction workers clearing a cranberry bog in the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Woodland Township, Burlington County, discovered a tarp-wrapped skeletal body protruding from the sand in a remote stand of pines.
Fingerprints led to Lower Merion Township police, who had arrested Daniels on shoplifting charges in 2004.
That, in turn, led detectives to a domestic-abuse complaint Daniels had filed against Hansen after a fight April 7, 2005. A court hearing had been set for May 23, 2005.
The crucial testimony linking Hansen to Daniels' disappearance came from Hansen's sister, Kelly Hansen, 41.
In her first interview, conducted with her brother waiting in an adjacent room at his attorney's office, Kelly Hansen said her brother had confided that Daniels died of a drug overdose, and that he had panicked and secretly buried her.
But in later interviews conducted by New Jersey State Police detectives, Kelly Hansen said her brother really said he had smothered Daniels because he feared going to prison if she testified against him in the abuse hearing.
Glenn Hansen had a rape conviction dating from the early '90s, and in 2005 was on probation after a drunken-driving arrest.
Kelly Hansen said she initially had lied because she feared her brother. She corroborated her story by leading detectives to Daniels' secluded grave site, which she said she had seen twice in trips there with him.
She also gave detectives the tape of a menacing 2006 phone message in which her brother said, "You need to shut the [expletive] up about what you know about this case."
Kelly Hansen ultimately testified against her brother at the trial under a grant of immunity from prosecution.
Defense attorneys Timothy J. Tarpey and Michael P. Parkinson maintained that Kelly Hansen had told the truth only in her first statement and had incriminated her brother because she feared being criminally charged.
Assistant District Attorney Gail Fairman urged the jury to return a first-degree murder verdict. She said Hansen's prior abuse of Daniels proved that he was willing to use physical force against her and that only he could have told his sister details about Daniels' death.